Getting Started Journaling

Journaling helps you keep track of your life and organize your thoughts and feelings. Doing so on a regular basis will not only provide a place for you to look back on your life but also improve your own thought processes. It helps to organize the way you think about the world around you.

Regularly writing in a journal can help you to take the puzzle pieces of your thoughts and feelings and put them together in a logical pattern. Use these guidelines to help get started on that puzzle. Don’t hesitate, get started journaling now.

Episode Breakdown

Getting Started

05:35 Use pen and paper over screen and keyboard.

Physically writing your ideas down helps you to retain them better. Writing by hand also gives your eyes a reprieve from the screen. This allows your mind to relax and unplug. As developers we sit in front of a computer screen all day.

Devices, computers or otherwise, are sources of distraction. It’s way to easy to switch over to social media. Even work can be a distraction when you are trying to journal. You may think of a solution and want to trying immediately.

This may not work for everyone. You may not be able to physically write it down. If so use an app designed to help with the way or content you are journaling. As a last resort you can use a text file.

09:10 Start simple and make it a habit.

“You don’t need to write like Anne Frank to keep a journal or diary.”

The idea here get yourself into a routine of journaling. The simpler your early journaling the more likely you are to continue. Just get a few thoughts and ideas down on paper. Write a little each day or week. Keep it up even if you don’t have much to say. Forcing yourself to be disciplined early on will make it easier to continue over the long run

11:55 Use journaling prompts to get you going.

Prompts help you to get started by providing a way to get in the correct frame of mind. Sometimes when you don’t know what to talk about a prompt will get you going. You may start with the prompt and continue to write even beyond the prompt

Answer the questions openly and honestly. Choose questions that will be hard to answer fully. This will get you out of your comfort zone.

14:55 Make it about you and for you.

“This isn’t an English class.”

You are writing to your future self. Base what you say or put in the journal on having a conversation with yourself. This is not for anyone else to read. Write so that you will be able to remember not only details but emotions surrounding events. This is your time to brag, whine, or celebrate without repercussions from anyone else.

Tips and Tricks

18:40 Create a journaling template.

There are a lot of calendars and schedulers you can find at office supply stores. These are built as a template to help you start entering data. They also make it easier to organize your tasks and appointments.

Finding a template that works for you usually takes some trial and error. You can start by imposing external structure like Scrum stand ups (Doing, Done, Impedes). With time you may notice patterns in you writing and will want to adjust your template. Stream of consciousness journaling may not work with a template as it designed to be without structure. You may however create sections for the stream to flow or have a list of topics that you add to the side.

It’s easier to start writing if you are adding to something existing. Starting with a blank page can be overwhelming. We have a template for all of our recordings and live shows.

25:55 Don’t worry about sounding good or professional.

A lot of times people think they have to write well thought out entries. This is only the case if other people will be reading what you write. Journaling is for you alone to read and use later. Public journals that are written for an audience are called blogs.

“This is for you, it’s not for other people.”

You don’t have to use full sentences and proper grammar. Thoughts are rarely formed as sentences. You can use bullet points or just lists of thoughts. This applies to stream of consciousness journaling especially.

27:50 Journal at the beginning of your day.

“My work journal is the first thing I do at the beginning of my work day.”

Many people think it best to journal at the end of the day. They think it is good to recap the events of the day in their journal. Unfortunately journaling tends to get cut as our lives get busy.

Research shows that we perform certain tasks better at different times of the day. It indicates that we have a finite amount of will power. As we use it throughout the day it can become depleted. May be the reason people feel they get more done when getting up earlier.

Your mind is most free from external influences early in the day. Avoid checking your phone or social media before journaling. Make it easy on yourself by keeping pen and paper close. This is a great way to get into the habit of dream journaling. As we go about our day the memory of our dreams fades. Writing it down just after waking up keeps it fresh in your mind.

Pitfalls to Avoid

30:35 Avoid getting too obsessed with yourself.

“This is not the mirror of Narcissus here.”

Your journal is the place to focus completely on yourself. It is a record of your thoughts and feelings. It shouldn’t only be yours but how you interact with the world around you. Don’t let yourself lose sight of the bigger picture.

33:10 Be careful of becoming a passive observer of your life.

Living too much in your head happens when mindfulness is taken to the extreme. This can also happen when you become more focused on recording your life than living it. You’re thinking about how you’ll record it instead of experiencing what is happening. Keep in mind that your journal is a record to help live better.

37:45 Journaling can become a way express blame instead of finding solutions.

“You have to meta analyze your meta analysis.”

It can temp you to wallow in negative things that have happened to you. The trouble here happens when expressing negative emotions and frustrations is not cathartic.

42:15 Don’t stop if you miss a day/week/month.

“The sun will come up tomorrow…”

No matter your best of intentions life finds a way to cause you to miss some time journaling. Putting too much pressure on yourself to write every day can discourage you if you miss one.

46:50 Start now, not when you have the time or the capacity for it.

Your schedule is never going to perfectly clear up to start journaling. You can still set a start date for journaling.

Even if you don’t have a book or journal get started with loose paper. Holding out for the perfect journal can be a way to procrastinate. Use what you have at hand. The goal is to write down thoughts and ideas not to have them in a particular place.

IoTease: Project

Smart Irrigation System using IoT

This is more than just a project it’s a course in IoT and irrigation. It involves working with a soil moisture sensor, WiFi module, and an Arduino. The goal is to build an automated system that detects the moisture of the soil and replenishes it when needed. Through this course the student will learn about programming an Arduino and it’s architecture as well as calibrating sensors. While this isn’t a free course it is nice that the cost includes the kit you’ll need to complete it.

Tricks of the Trade

When you journal, don’t just keep track of what you did, but also pay attention to what motivated you to do it. Pay careful attention to this, because learning to hack your own motivation is effectively a super power, and it’s one that a lot of people never learn to use. You can push yourself much further in life if you can do this.

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