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How to use Journaling for Productivity

One of the main benefits of journaling is that it is a systematic way of planning for future activities, organising the day ahead and recording memories. Whilst it sounds daunting at first glance, in the long run it saves so much time, and makes you much more efficient.

As a marketing coach I meet many business people who struggle with efficiency. Running a business means wearing a varied number of hats and may extend across finance, marketing, operations, legal, administration, selling, and so on. Add in running a home, family and fitting in time off and the day is full. Unless you are very disciplined, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed. It is estimated that over 7 million days a year are lost as a result of stress resulting in billions of lost revenue.

Paper Journals versus Apps

In this blog post I am recommending using a paper journal, diary or notebook. Whilst I love my tech I prefer to use old-school methods.   There are of course many lovely journaling apps but I get much more satisfaction striking a task off a physical list than tapping a box on a screen.

“So how do you use journaling for productivity?” I hear you say?

Here are the main steps involved in setting up a journal:

        1. At the beginning of the month, look at your paper or online calendar and add all key business and personal events to the Monthly spread in your journal of choice. I have chosen one of the Celebration Project’s A5 Journals to show the layouts using September as an example.                                                                                       
        2. On the next page lay out your Weekly spread day by day and fill in the appointments from the Monthly spread. There are various ways of doing this and I will show you what works for me                                           
        3. On the left hand side, include:
          Business meetings
          Personal appointments
          Family events
          Social events
          Evening commitments
          Include the time, location, who else is involved and how long the event will last. If you don’t fancy drawing out each each, why not use The Celebration Project Weekly Planner pad; 50 sheets of high quality 120gsm paper with the week laid out day-by-day, all ready for you to complete. There is a section to write your weekly goals, a task list and space for appointments am and pm. It matches the Shopping List & Menu Planner.                                                                                               
        4. On the right hand side use the space in whatever way works for you. I like to include routine weekly tasks which are done on particular days, menus, shopping lists, personal phone calls and jobs around the house. Some people put in daily ‘habit trackers’ which help monitor goals such as cutting down certain foods, noting exercise times, money saving, etc. 
        5. For a particularly busy day with a myriad of tasks on my agenda, I will list out the hours from 7 in the morning until about 10 in the evening and allocate time for each task. The mere act of doing this makes you reflect on the importance of each task and therefore in which order they should be undertaken. You also have to give sufficient time to each task and schedule in breaks and time for checking emails and social media.
          Keeping ‘in the zone’ without distractions is difficult when you have notifications switched on, when the telephone rings or when you are the beck and call of others. Reflect on what will work best for you. There is no right or wrong way of planning your day. Do it one way, if it works, keep going and if it doesn’t revise and adapt.
          Some journaling systems, such bullet journaling, use different symbols for tasks, events, activities which are unfinished on one day which are rescheduled to another and so on, but I found I didn’t really use them.
          There is a whole community of journalers who are wonderfully creative and use hand lettering, drawings, washi tape to decorate their journal.
          Up until now I have used a simple black pen, but I do have plans to add in a few colours to help categorise some of the tasks.
        6. If you like to reflect on your day then the next page is for writing your thoughts. It may be just a couple of lines or several pages. And sometimes, I write nothing at all.


      Carry on with the same routine for a week or two and then review if this method of journaling increased your productivity.

      If you already use journaling as part of your day, let us know why you journal in the comments below.

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