10 Tips To Help Start Your Daily Journal

July 28, 2021

10 Tips To Help Start Your Daily Journal

Journaling is a great way of focusing on your thoughts and feelings, and developing some proper structure around them. It can also help you notice your habits and patterns, set and achieve goals, and solve problems.

lady writing a journal

Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash  


There are many ways to approach your journaling. Some people prefer to have something to fill out, like a colouring book or pre-written questions to answer. Others may prefer to jot things down (like incomplete sentences) or express their creativity by drawing stuff. 

There's no ‘right' way to start a journal, as everyone will use them differently.

Here are two ways that some people journal that can make a big difference to your life:

  • Gratitude journaling: You can practice gratitude by writing down the things you're grateful for on a daily basis. This can boost your mood from feeling ‘OK' to feeling good more regularly. It's great when you flick back and see all the nice recordings you made as reminders for the things you appreciate in life.
  • Bullet journaling: This method is amazing for tracking feelings, tasks and events. It can help you to organise your thoughts into an easily trackable format, so you can keep tabs on your mood.

    1. Start small and have realistic expectations.

    It's key whenever you're building a new habit to keep your expectations realistic 

    Narrow down your goals into a single snippet that you can manage even on your worst days. 

    Keeping a journaling habit going – even if you only have a few minutes a day – is infinitely better than setting unrealistic goals.

    It doesn't matter whether you write a single line or three pages – what matters in the beginning is that you form a habit. 

    Make journaling a part of your daily life and anchor it to another habit – like your morning coffee or your evening washing up. And get that journaling in there until it becomes routine and automatic and until you're no longer fighting with yourself about how badly or well you're doing it.

    Just start and then refine how you do it later.

    2. Schedule your journaling into your day.

    Otherwise you might never make the time for it – and journaling whenever you're in the mood and inspired is bound to fail.

    Journaling lifts you when you're not feeling in the mood and that means sometimes you just have to get on with it even when you're feeling uninspired. And when you schedule journaling into your day, you'll be less likely to make excuses or rely on sheer willpower alone.

    Inspiration will find you – but only when you're writing.

    To make journaling a part of your daily routine, set aside a time for it. Anchor it to another habit you're already great at maintaining.

    You won't always feel like writing, but a journaling routine will keep your habit going.

    If you drink coffee religiously in the morning, make it a habit to write a few lines when you get halfway through your cup. 

    woman writing her journal

    Photo by Mathilde Langevin on Unsplash

    3. Make your journal personal. 

    Your journal should feel like it's yours and it should fit your personality. 

    Maybe that's a leather-bound notebook that you can whip out comfortably on a trip.. Or maybe that's a worn cloth-bound notebook filled with painted daisies. Your journal should make you look forward to writing.

    If you're cracking open a new notebook and looking for an ice breaker, then fill that first, intimidating blank page with a favorite song lyric or inspirational quote.

    Making your journal personal and unique inspires you to write more.

    And don't obsess about your handwriting. Handwriting gets better – and more legible – with practice and plenty of patience. 

    Make some messy doodles or scrawl some quotes into the margins to further break that ice and smash those high expectations. Your journal is your tool – not an Instagram flatlay waiting to happen.

    4. Use your journal for stress management.

    Journaling has been called the most effective form of therapy – and it's absolutely free, too.

    Whenever you're feeling frazzled, overwhelmed or just anxious, there's nothing like pouring your frustrations out into a journal for some catharsis.

    Once you fill up a page or two, you'll gain some much-needed distance from your troubles. You'll probably realize things aren't as bad as they seem and you might even see that silver lining.

    And once you're done, let your entry sit for a few days and read it back later. You'll begin to realize that your daily frustrations are rarely worth stressing over.

    Journaling has many powerful benefits for your mental and physical health. 

    5. Write for your eyes only.

    Journaling is wonderful therapy but it's difficult to write honestly unless your journal is absolutely private.

    When you write in hope (or fear) that others will read your words, it becomes harder to write truthfully and express your real emotions. You won't write for self-awareness but to impress others or to prove a point.

    Write for your eyes only and your journal will be more intimate and honest.

    Keep your journal in a secure place. And if you're still worried that others will stumble upon it, then find a hiding space or use a laptop protected with a password.

    Journal on a table with a cup of coffee

    Photo by freestocks on Unsplash  

    6. Start small

    We all go through tough times , and it can be difficult to find the positives when you're feeling down. The great thing about keeping a gratitude journal is that it forces you to think about things you can be thankful for. These don't even need to be big things!

    Start by looking at what's around you. Perhaps you can be grateful for the pen you're holding, because it's allowing you to record your thoughts. 

    Maybe you can be grateful that you have electricity in your house, which allows you to see the page you're writing on. You might be grateful for the warm, comfy bed you get to sleep in each night. Or it could be gratitude towards a good friend who texted you earlier in the day.

    While we can sometimes think that these things aren't big enough to be worth writing about, starting small still has great benefits. The more you list what you're grateful for, the more you'll start to notice the shift in your overall well being.

    Writing about gratitude will lift your spirits and get your thoughts flowing again on the days you're tired or filled with self-doubt.

    This positive energy is downright invigorating.

    7. Focus on the benefits

    You may find it hard to get started on your journaling, particularly if you haven't kept a journal before. Reminding yourself every day of the benefits of gratitude can give you the boost you need to keep going.

    Consider writing some of these benefits out and putting them in your journal or on your wall as a reminder:

    8. You don't have to write first thing in the morning.

    There's a myriad of ways to journal. The only way that's right is whatever works best for you. 

    Writing in the morning lets you plan out your day, reflect on how you'll deal with any anticipated challenges or even jot down whatever you're grateful for. 

    Evenings, for their part, are great for reflecting back on your day, what you'd do differently and what's on your to-do list for tomorrow.

    Whether you write in the morning or at night, both practices have their advantages.

    The only question is: what do you want to get out of journaling? And what time and technique would work best for you?

    Try writing at different times of the day and notice the difference. When are you at your best, and when does it feel most valuable to journal?

    open journal with highlights

    Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash  

    9. Try a new environment.

    If you're feeling uninspired, then change your surroundings. 

    Step out onto your balcony or grab a chair in your garden and journal from there. Take your journal to work and jot down a few lines on your lunch break. Pick it up in the evening and doodle as you watch TV.

    There's no right time and place for journaling – it's about finding whatever works for you.

    10. Keep a journal handy in your bag.

    When you're stuck on the bus in traffic, just pull out your journal and jot down your thoughts or vent your anxieties.

    An additional journal kept in your bag is useful whenever you're in a waiting room, a traffic jam or any situation with time on your hands.

    A journal can also be a great substitute for smartphone scrolling. Whenever you find yourself restless and reaching for your smartphone, pull out your journal instead. Sure it may be awkward during a dinner party, but a dentist's office or bank are perfect settings for a journaling session.

    When you're on vacation, a travel journal can be an incredible tool to write down your sensations when they're still fresh in your mind. Use a journal to plan your trip and keep track of any great restaurants you've tried or museums you'd love to revisit.

    A journal kept in your bag makes a great pastime when you're suddenly hit with unexpected wait times.

    Journaling is a great way of focusing on your thoughts and feelings, and developing some proper structure around them. It can also help you notice your habits and patterns, set and achieve goals, and solve problems.

    Let your thoughts flow freely.

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