I regularly make notes in almost every situation. The habit of carrying a pocket notebook with me has made my life significantly better. I adopted it after reading about people, from Leonardo Da Vinci to Richard Branson, who have kept journals in some form with them at all times (and because National Park edition Field Notes are way cooler than taking notes on the phone.) It has been a handy tool for everything from emotional health to memory. Here are the three main things for which I believe everyone should keep one of these pocket journals.
- Morning/ Evening Reflection: Did something significant happen today? Write it down. Are you anxious about something coming up later today? Write it down. I didn’t realize how vague and abstract my emotional thoughts were until I started processing on paper. Feelings are often intense, but that doesn’t make our understanding of said feelings clear or precise. By writing about my positive experiences, I have made them seem more real. Conversely, my negative experiences have become more manageable. It is also useful to look back on these relfections later to examine how effectively I have dealt with them.
- To-Do Lists: This is one of the best things I have done to increase my output, and I highly recommend you try it. However, it is essential to set this to-do list up in a certain way. I block off three pages in the morning. The first page of the day is for morning journaling, second is the to-do list, and the third is evening reflection. I try to set it up to have the to-do list on the left and the evening reflection on the right so I can see them simultaneously. Knowing you are going to see all that you did or failed to do at the end of the day is highly motivating. It means either reflecting on why you did so well or marinating on all the things you need to change right before you go to sleep. Knowing that you’ll see a checked off to-do list at the end of the day is a surprisingly a strong motivator, and one of the most excellent personal accountability tools I’ve ever used.
- General Notes: I have notes about everything from books I’ve read, a good line from a show on Netflix, something a friend said, and much more in my notes. It just has to be anything you find significant. If it’s exceptional, it will end up on a notecard, but that’s a different conversation.
You could use Evernote and phone reminders for something like this, but there is something about writing by hand that makes it feel substantial. A goal, written down on paper, somehow feels more real, and I feel more connected to it. It feels like more of a commitment. I highly recommend Field Notes, just because they’re cool and that will help you stick with it, but there are also cheaper pocket notebooks on Amazon. Ultimately, there is no wrong way to do this, so give it a shot and happy journaling!