How to Get Started on Journaling

UPDATED: September 9, 2016
PUBLISHED: September 9, 2016

My first journals were all about travel. I remember keeping a journal during trips to New York City, Florida and Europe. But when I got home, my writing habit began to fade. What a missed opportunity, as I immediately felt the impact of not reflecting on my thoughts. Because with journaling, I achieved the clarity and sense of self that I needed to take me further faster.


“Keeping a journal helps me to keep track of the progress I’ve made on my goals. Daily journaling helps me combat procrastination during the process of writing my book.” –Stacey Copas, author of How to Be Resilient: The Blueprint or Getting Results When Things Don’t Go to Plan


Which is why I want to share the benefits of journaling. Read them, write them down and add them to your routine. Then see how you feel in a week, a month, a year.

Related: Why You Should Keep a Journal

Free-form journaling is a good place to start; the promise of blank pages invites you to fill them with ideas. It’s also the journal practice Jim Rohn encourages—he recommends investing in a substantial, high-quality journal to keep track of important ideas and observations, such as:

Free-form journals are a great way to keep track of your progress and work through challenges. Even the anticipation of reflection offers a break from the stress of the day.


“I usually write in my journal every two weeks or so in a Word document. Writing in my journal gives me clarity and helps me to be productive.” –Paul Burke, CEO of Renthoop


But some people feel overwhelmed by a blank page. Instead of a blank canvas and a break from reality, it can feel like another intimidating task on your to-do list. So, instead, try a specialized journal—like the A Thought A Day journal, The Five Minute Journal, The Happiness Project One-Sentence Journal or The Freedom Journal.

The short, daily entry journal is helpful for several reasons. It is an easy habit to learn and practice on a daily basis, the format makes it easy to look back on your progress, and it puts good and bad days into perspective. And journals like The Freedom Journal focus on single objectives, like accomplishing your goals by guiding you through the process day by day.

I personally use a thought of the day journal like a log book to note progress on important goals and upcoming events, and I enjoy reading the inspirational quotes. The small daily space to fill is manageable and helps ensure I don’t skip an entry.

So, how can you get started on your own journal?

  1. Choose your journal. Decide if you want a digital or traditional pen and paper version.
  2. Create a habit. It takes time to form new habits, so choose a set time to journal every day (with your morning coffee, perhaps).
  3. Revisit previous entries. After you have written two weeks of entries, go back to review your earlier musings. You might be surprised how your perspective has changed.
  4. Experiment with different techniques. If a journal format doesn’t work for you after 30 days, switch to a different one. If you feel time crunched or overwhelmed, consider using a journal that gives specific daily guidance.

Related: 4 Things I Learned From Keeping Weekly Lists

Bruce Harpham is a career expert who contributes to Profit Guide,, and a variety of business publications. He runs the website where readers gain practical insights to grow their careers. He lives in Toronto, Canada.