How To Keep A Diary

I’ve kept a diary on and off since I’ve been able to write. I don’t re-read my old diaries that often, but when I do it’s encouraging to see how far I’ve come and how much I’ve grown. Writing in my diary is like sitting down with a cuppa and a close mate to unload all of my thoughts and problems (without actually dumping on someone). By simply writing down a problem or a question, I’ll often find an answer or an alternative path. And even if I don’t find the answer, by putting it down on paper, somehow I manage to clear out precious head space by de-cluttering my angst.

When I found out I’d been short-listed to share my experiences with I was excited to learn that the feature was called “Gen Y Diary” and that we were encouraged to share our thoughts and experiences as if we were keeping a diary. In the same way that we keep personal diaries, I think it’s also important to keep a business diary. I’m not talking about the type of diary that has all of your appointments in it – I’m talking about an informal diary that contains your hopes, dreams and goals, as well as your achievements. With a never-ending “To Do” list, I think it’s important that we occasionally take the time to reflect on our achievements. Whilst we might finish the day thinking “I didn’t get xyz done”, it’s also important to acknowledge what we did get done and take a moment to pat ourselves on the back for it.

“I don’t have time” is usually the main reason that I (and most people, I suspect) stop keeping a diary, so here are my top tips for keeping regular diary – for business or pleasure:

  1. Keep it short – Invest in a small book and limit yourself to writing no more than one page a day. The diary I’m using at the moment is a day-by-day style diary where a whole week fits across two pages. This gives me space to pick one topic and write no more than a paragraph a day.
  2. Finish wanting more – It’s a good sign if you finish your diary entry feeling you could write more. Wanting more is part of the addiction of keeping a journal and will keep you coming back again and again.
  3. Get into a routine – Pick a time of day when you’re most reflective, i.e. at night before you go to bed and allow yourself five minutes to write in your journal. Like most activities, doing the same thing at the same time everyday enforces the habit.
  4. It doesn’t matter if you miss a day (or weeks) – don’t beat yourself up if you don’t write every day.  You might decide to keep a weekly journal – it doesn’t matter. Just don’t feel that you have to “catch up” or recall everything that happened when you miss days. Keeping a diary isn’t meant to be a chore.
  5. It’s all about you – This is your time and your space, so your diary can be whatever you want it to be. If you don’t feel like writing much then draw a sketch or write a poem or quote that reflects how you’re feeling.
  6. Pimp your diary – It’s not all about looks, but if you invest in a beautiful journal that’s a pleasure to write in this will also help you stay motivated. Handmade paper, a leather-bound cover, a gorgeous pen – whatever gets you in the “write” mood.

If you’ve never kept a diary, I challenge you to put pen to paper this week and see how you feel at the end of this week.

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Courtney Symes

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