A Happy Side-effect of Journaling Every Day

Back in October I wrote a post about how I’ve adopted a routine of journaling what I’m currently working on throughout the day in addition to a final recap of the whole day each night before bed. My one year anniversary of starting my journal passed back in February with little fanfare. But looking at it now, I’ve logged 626 entries and have a streak of 428 days in a row. As far as total word count, I’m guessing I’ve written somewhere between 75,000 and 100,000 words. That’s a whole book! Reflecting on that today has caused me to look back at everything I’ve accomplished this calendar year – a period where, because of the birth of my son, I thought I’d surely get very little done. Highlights include…

  • Launching a brand new responsive website design
  • Beginning work on a new book.
  • Building and shipping a major new update to my flagship app, VirtualHostX.
  • Building a shipping a new app and the accompanying web service.
  • Recommitting myself to writing more on this blog – 10,000 words so far!

All while holding down a day job and learning how to care for a newborn. Not to brag, but I’m damn proud of myself for continuing to push my business forward these last three and a half months. And that’s caused me to think about what’s contributing to my productivity. What am I doing differently that’s keeping me on track and motivated.

The biggest factor I can identify is that my habit of journaling each day is finally starting to pay dividends. My nightly recap has forced me to be more aware of how I’m spending my time – precisely because every night I take five minutes and write down what I accomplished that day. On days when I don’t have much to write or when I fail to do one concrete thing to move my business forward, I don’t necessarily feel like a failure, but I do feel a little guilty. On the flip side, days where I do accomplish something give me a bit of a high – and the more days in a row I keep the chain in tact, the better I feel.

Because I’m now more aware of how I spend my time, I’m no longer haphazardly working on stuff in the moments in-between everything else in life. Instead of turning to my work simply because I’m bored elsewhere or I happen to have a free moment, I’m setting aside dedicated time each day for work.

My kid goes to bed at seven and my wife at nine. After that, the house is quiet and I’m free to do whatever I want. I’ve chosen to deliberately make those hours from 9pm until midnight all about my work. That’s not to say I don’t open a beer and have a baseball game playing in the background, but those three hours are now sacred to me. They’re when I get shit done. I no longer approach that time hoping I’m in the right mood and mindset to work. Because I have the daily journal entries to prove I’m capable of doing work at that time, I sit down at 9pm with renewed confidence knowing I’m capable and have a consistent track record of performing.

I can’t emphasize enough how important journaling has become to me. It’s caused me to be more aware of how I spend my time, which ups my confidence as I’m able to reflect on all the many things I’ve accomplished. Like a productive vicious cycle, that only serves to motivate me even more.

  • Justin Wong

    Hi Tyler,

    It’s a very inspiring post. I’ve been on-offing daily journal entries for the past few years, but have found trouble focusing on what I’m writing. Do you have a rough format you follow?

    For example, do you make certain to hit both personal and business happenings every day? Or is it perhaps all business?

    Justin

    • thall

      To encourage myself to write every day, I keep things very simple. I don’t try and dig too deep into my feelings unless that naturally happens. Instead, I just focus on narrating what I did that day, what I ate, any significant tasks I accomplished, etc. It is literally the most boring journal of all time. But it works! I record both personal and work happenings.

      • Justin Wong

        Sounds good! I know I struggled sometime with trying to build a cohesive story along with it, but I’m leaning towards thinking that’s not the point of a journal. It’s for myself and freeing my brain, perhaps providing reference for later.

        With time, maybe natural separation of the kinds of events will occur as I get better with journaling.