The Many Benefits to Keeping a Journal
When was the last time you picked up a pen and paper just to write? Not for a client. Not for paperwork. Not to be read and critiqued by somebody else. Just for you. If it’s been a while, consider adding a notebook to your creative toolkit! Research has shown that expressing thoughts in a private diary leads to some serious benefits, and most importantly, improved daily functioning. For freelancers, this could mean increased processing skills for critical thinking, improved organization when balancing multiple projects, and better brainstorming when a client asks for idea generation. Want even more good news? Journaling isn’t just for writers. Designers, accountants, and any goal-oriented person will see positive results from writing down their thoughts — spelling mistakes can slide here! It’s your journal after all, and the benefits from this simple activity are far too valuable to ignore.
MEMORY & COMPREHENSION
At its core definition, journaling is a kept record, and an opportunity to work through personal problems and successes. Just like taking notes in class helps students retain a lecture, journaling can assist with remembering details that otherwise would have gotten lost in the chaos. There’s a reason why Alzheimer's patients are recommended to spend time journaling as a memory aid. By writing about an average activity, those with memory problems are more likely to recall past happenings with increased clarity. Documenting little details about an important project or a tricky client interaction could come in handy down the road!
Even better, freelancers who write about their struggles might handle similar problems or feelings more successfully in the future. Those who’ve gone through a tumultuous experience (a bad break up, a toxic workplace, etc.) can recollect how they worked through the problem before and put these strategies into practice on the spot. An anxiety-triggering conversation or business meeting could be nerve-wracking every time; OR, if you write about your experience, no problem at all the second time around.
CONFIDENCE, CREATIVITY, & INTELLIGENCE
It’s not just the negative entries that matter — gaining confidence comes from writing about positive experiences too. Take it from Matthew McConaughey, who has kept a journal for decades and has now arguably mastered the “confidence” trait (plus he just turned all those journals into a best-selling book). By recognizing your values, who you are spending time with, and what your lifestyle looks like during the best of times, you can see what habits are working in your favor. You can be confident about daily decisions and prioritize the routines that serve you best.
This confidence can also leak into creativity and higher thinking. While documenting the monotony of daily life might not seem like the most inspiring way to get the creative juices flowing, what’s actually happening is a “brain drain” of minor thoughts and issues. This allows freelancers to skip past the sides and get right to the meat. The mind can focus on the job at hand, instead of thinking about the long list of errands to run, or distractions from the day before. Plus, freeform writing (the crazier the better) actually helps us practice creativity. The act of letting the mind explore something new may give you an edge when it comes to pitching an idea that no one had previously thought of.
And you won’t just be smarter at your job, you will sound smarter too! A study found that people who wrote in a diary about their strongest thoughts and feelings used words such as “hence”, “therefore”, and “because” to connect sentence fragments in their non-journal writing, compared to those who didn’t dive as deep during their private writing practice. It doesn’t need to be sappy — but consider acknowledging how you really feel about what your roommate said, or why it’s important for you to visit home less frequently. Your communication skills could benefit, leading to more respect and confidence from people seeking your services.
ORGANIZATION & POTENTIAL
One of the more popular journaling methods is bullet journaling for organization, accomplished through daily to-do lists or bulleted ideas. Keep yourself accountable by reviewing them later in the day to see that you got it all done! And don’t forget — organization can also come in the form of compartmentalizing thoughts before an important interview or client call so you can come across as confident and capable.
Plus, improved organization, confidence, and communication could even lead to manifesting your biggest goals and dreams. Don’t roll your eyes yet! This big buzzword made popular in the 21st century, implies that by simply hoping for something, you’ll bring about that very thing. Proponents of “manifesting” believe this can actually be accomplished by writing down what you desire and documenting the efforts to gain what is sought. At the very least, your goal will be at the forefront of your mind. You may take a bigger risk with a higher payoff or better align your current career with what you really want.
Of course, there is one catch ... consistency, but that’s a pretty small price to pay when keeping a journal can lead to a healthier, happier, and more productive lifestyle. Even a few short paragraphs each week could inspire a lifestyle change for the better, give you confidence during daily decisions, or be the breakthrough to your next big idea! Just start with one, and watch the dominoes fall.