Learn How To Journal in 9 Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 11, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many professionals find it helpful to find ways to express their emotions and organize their thoughts. Journaling can be a creative, beneficial tool to help you outline and monitor your professional goals and process your feelings regularly. Depending on your personality, interests and schedule, you may choose one of several different types of journaling techniques. In this article, we discuss what journaling is, how it can benefit your career and how to journal.

What is journaling?

Journaling is the practice of writing down your thoughts, emotions and experiences. It can help individuals conduct self-reflection, organize their thoughts and set goals. Journaling does not have strict parameters and may look different for each person. It focuses on creative self-expression and enrichment through self-analysis.

Some people journal every day, while others may journal once a week. Journals may be physical or digital and complete sentences or bulleted lists. They are a valuable tool to help you organize and express your thoughts in a healthy, constructive way.

Related: The Writing Process: Over 45 Tips on Writing

How can you use journaling for your career?

You can use journaling as a professional tool in the following ways:

  • Setting goals: You can use your journaling time to formulate short-term and long-term career goals. Journaling provides you with more time for introspection, which can help you plan out things that you sincerely want to accomplish.

  • Creating accountability: Your journal can provide a measure of accountability for necessary tasks and your professional objectives. You can list the items that you need to complete and give yourself a deadline, which can help remind and motivate you to be productive.

  • Processing information: Journaling can help you process complex feelings and emotions and identify reasons why you're experiencing strong emotions. Your journal is a space for honest reflection that allows you to express yourself without censorship or judgment.

  • Keeping records: Your journal serves as a written record of experiences and events. You can log major accomplishments, important meetings and performance reviews in a single location that you can refer to for future meetings or resume updates.

  • Capturing ideas: You can write down ideas for future businesses, professional development or projects. Keeping these ideas in one place can help you organize and implement these ideas.

  • Learning from experience: As you write about experiences at work, you can use these insights to help guide your decisions and behavior in the future.

  • Remembering advice and inspiration: Your journal can be a place to store helpful advice and inspiration that you may receive from mentors, books or other professionals. Refer to these pages when you need an extra boost.

Read more: How To Use a Work Journal To Achieve Your Goals

How to journal

Here are the steps to begin a regular journaling practice:

1. Research journaling types

There are several different methods for journaling and types of journals. Research each strategy by reading blogs, reading books about journaling and looking at examples of each type. You may need to experiment with several different types of journaling methods before finding a system that works for you. Journaling techniques include:

  • Bullet journaling: Bullet journaling organizes to-do lists, goals and schedules in one location and prompts individuals to reflect on their feelings at regular intervals throughout the day, week and year.

  • Stream of consciousness journaling: Stream of consciousness journaling involves writing down any thoughts or feelings that come to mind without editing or censoring them.

  • Art journaling: Art journaling uses creative techniques to explore your feelings, such as drawing, painting and doodling.

  • Digital journaling: You can use a digital journal instead of a physical object.

  • List journaling: List journaling involves dividing your entries into lists to keep information cohesive and brief.

Read more: Bullet Journals: Definition, Uses and Examples

2. Buy a journal

Once you decide what style of journaling you want to practice, you can buy a physical journal or download a journaling app for your phone or computer. Find a journal that matches your personality and meets your needs. For example, if you want to bring your journal to work or other places, make sure it's small and light enough to carry in your bag. You may also want a journal with special features, such as:

  • Writing prompts

  • Inspirational quotes

  • Lined or unlined pages

3. Schedule a time for journaling

To help you get in the habit of journaling regularly, consider setting aside a specific time each day or week to journal. Schedule this time in your calendar, and create a comfortable space with few distractions to help you focus. Pick a time that works best for your mood and schedule. For instance, if you're tired when you get home from work, you might try journaling first thing in the morning when you have more energy.

4. Be consistent

Like any habit, it can take several weeks for journaling to become part of your regular routine. Stay consistent with the practice, even if you only write a few sentences during each session. Consider joining an online or face-to-face journaling group that can keep you accountable and help you stay engaged in the process.

5. Use prompts

If you need help knowing what to write about, you can use writing prompts as you first start journaling. You can look online for prompts specific to your objectives. For example, if you're using your journal for professional growth, you might look for career writing prompts such as:

  • What are my goals this quarter?

  • What did I learn today?

  • What could I have done better this week?

  • When do I feel happiest at work?

Read more: How To Make a Journal Entry

6. Plan for the future

You can use your journal to plan for the future. Your journal is a space that encourages you to set ambitious goals and describe big dreams. You can reflect on your ideal job and the steps you can take to get closer to that type of position. Consider setting a primary goal for the year and using your journal to track the smaller, actionable tasks you complete each week.

7. Test different environments

Different environments may make you feel more creative and motivated. You can try out different settings as you journal to see where you feel most comfortable. For example, you can try journaling outdoors, at a coffee shop or in your favorite room at home. If you want to focus your journaling on work, you may find it helpful to journal during your lunch break when your ideas and experiences are fresh in your mind.

8. Make it personal

Journaling is a private, personal endeavor. Try to write openly and honestly, without thinking about what you should say or what others may think about your writing. This can allow you to discover your most genuine feelings and interests. Your journal doesn't have to follow a strict format or have perfect spelling and grammar. Aim to write freely without self-judgment.

9. Review your entries

Look over your past entries to identify trends in your moods and behavior. Reviewing your entries can show your growth and areas where you can work to improve. You may find insights into your personality or passions that can help guide your future decisions.

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