A Technique for Journaling on a Tight Schedule

I feel like this is the hundredth piece I have written about journaling, but my relationship with it is constantly evolving to fit different chapters of my life. Previously, I’ve enjoyed filling in charts to track my habits, writing bulleted lists of events going on in my life, and taping small items into a notebook from different things I’ve been up to (I still have a journal dedicated to this!). When I was going through a particularly heavy anxiety spell last year, I enjoyed writing lists of my worries and going back and highlighting the ones that turned out fine or irrational with green to show how often my worries were unnecessary. I also have a list journal with weekly prompts, and I still gravitate towards long-winded “Dear Diary” entries when I have the time (they’re cathartic and realistic for me to do about once a month).

This year, especially as a senior, every day is a rollercoaster of emotions. I began to find myself putting off journaling because I didn’t know where to begin with describing them or transitioning from one to another. I wanted to explore why I felt the way I did in certain situations, so filling out a chart of what emotion(s) I felt each day didn’t seem substantial enough. With a busy schedule, I also didn’t have time for an MLA-formatted essay on every detail of my day. Finally, while forcing myself to journal one night, I came up with a format that fulfills my schedule and needs for this semester perfectly.

It’s a simple layout: I write down significant things that happened the day/days leading up to my entry and organize them by what emotion they made me feel. It could look something like this:

October 2nd, 2019

Excited: I received a letter in the mail from someone I haven’t seen in awhile.

Motivated: I’ve been applying to internships and feel ready to tackle the process of reaching out to people, submitting applications and interviewing. I am excited for the process and the anticipation of seeing where I end up.

Guilty: I was doing really well going to the gym a few times a week but haven’t gone as much the past couple weeks. It’s usually because I’m too busy or feel sluggish.

Homesick: I always miss home around fall. The scenery, my town’s traditions and seeing my family and friends? Unmatched!

As I said, this is such a simple concept, but it’s been extremely effective in helping me get my feelings out and keeping me motivated to journal. It gives me the freedom to jump from topic to topic without stressing about documenting my full day in order, and allows me to be as in-depth or brief as I want.

I hope this has given you a helpful option for journaling on a time crunch and guidance on how to start if it’s something you’ve never done before. If you have tips or formats you like to use for journaling, please comment them below! Happy writing, beautiful people!



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