How to get the most out of your journal

How to get the most out of your journal


Journaling is a really useful tool for self-reflection - to help pinpoint patterns of behaviours (good ones that we want to do more of or negative ones we want to avoid) - taking ownership of progress, good or bad. ⁠

But simply putting your thoughts down on paper won’t get the positive results you are looking for. Introspection does not guarantee self-awareness. In fact, the more we introspect on why we are how we are, the more the mind will create and implement a narrative that aligns with what we ‘believe’ to be true.

Organisational psychologist and researcher, Tasha Eurich writes “Research has shown that we simply do not have access to many of the unconscious thoughts, feelings, and motives we’re searching for. And because so much is trapped outside of our conscious awareness, we tend to invent answers that feel true but are often wrong.”

When journaling, keep focused and try to avoid heading down a rabbit hole of negative thoughts. Always question and remind yourself of what the purpose of the journal session is.

To really make the most of your journal, here are some ideas to keep you on track.

Set a limit on your time.

Spending hours writing your feelings (particularly negative) can just send you into a spiral of storytelling and narrative affirmation. This helps no-one. Set a timer and give yourself 15 minutes to write down what is important. If there’s anything you forget, you can always come back later. ⁠

Follow a guide.

Aimless writing can sometimes be detrimental. Our thoughts are what guide us and writing down negative thoughts can often cement them as truths. Follow set questions to keep you on track to a positive experience. ⁠If this sounds like something you struggle with, why not try one of our guided journals to keep you on track?

Decide on the purpose of the journal.

What is your end goal when you journal? Is it to learn more about yourself in general? Would you like to understand your decision making better? Is there a particular area of your life that you would like to improve on? Would you like to create better habits? Having an aim or a goal that you can keep referring back to helps to stop a drift in focus which could result in aimless rambling.

Write down your life goals.

Whether big, long-term goals or smaller, short-term goals — write them down. Putting your goals down on paper makes them real and you accountable to them. Research has shown that writing down goals or promises makes you more likely to actually stick to them. All three of our journals have goal setting exercises to help you get the most out of your journaling.

Follow the SMART rule when setting your goals.

SMART is an acronym which stands for:

Specific — State exactly what you want to accomplish, be direct and go into detail.

Measurable — Use targets as a way of tracking your success. Perhaps breaking it down into mini goals so you can measure your progress.

Achievable — There is no point making your goal unattainable. Work towards a goal that will challenge you but is within your scope.

Realistic — Is it relevant to your life in this moment? Make sure you are not chasing a dream that won’t serve you. Be honest with yourself.

Timely — Give yourself a time frame and a deadline for achieving this goal. This will keep you focused and on track.

Include gratitude.

Here at LSW London we are such huge advocates for practising gratitude. Start each journal entry on a positive note and write down 3 things you are grateful for from the day. Gratitude helps to improve self-awareness, reduce stress, improve your focus amongst many, many other benefits. It also encourages you to look for the positives in life. If we zoom in on what we are grateful for, we will begin to look out for things to be grateful for. Whether it be people in our lives, a random act of kindness, a big promotion, a flower on your windowsill, bird song — whatever it might be for you, pop it down on paper.

Wherever you are on your journaling journey, I hope these tips help to give you clarity and focus when writing. 

Lili x


Lili Sinclair-Williams is the Founder of LSW London

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