What kind of journaling method should I choose? And why?

A consultant would say “it depends”. 😉 When it comes to choosing your first journal – no matter if it is “only” for private stuff, for business or your whole life – it really depends.

It depends i.e. on your (pre)experience with written self-reflection practises, on the level of discipline you can/want to spend, on the degree of flexibility you need, how easily you build new habits and how stressful your life (currently) is in general.

Anyhow I offer some of my experience in this article, so that you can make a more informed decision on the first or a next journal on your journaling path.

Three different journaling variants

Basically I distinguish 3 different types of journaling. Those “buckets” are generally a helpful categorization to:

  • pick your first journal,
  • choose the next journal
  • or to change the journal type when you find that journaling (currently) does NOT work for you.

In other words: the following three buckets are useful to consider if your inner ‘pigdog’ grows stronger and stronger and e.g. doesn’t want to journal (anymore) or even prevents you from getting into the habit.

The variants are:

  1. semi-structured journals
  2. guided freestyle journaling
  3. full freestyle journaling (exercises)

Next I describe more details for each type.

Semi-structured Journals:

… are pre-structured books (like Clarity Journal or The 6-minutes diary).
Here are some of their characteristics:

  • it is usually(!) an easier start for journaling newbies
  • purpose and frame is usually is pretty clear (so it doesn’t need so much mental capacity than other types and therefore saves you some of your precious willpower resource)
  • using different books in a row offers you variety (see below for some examples that I can recommend)

Guided freestyle journaling:

… is my term for using a blank book with some structure from a journaling framework like Bullet Journaling or derivates from that. It is:

  • way more flexible, so if flexibility is more valuable to you than saving mental capacity this would be YOUR type to start with
  • also great for ‘seasoned journalers’ as you can always evolve your practise further and adapt it directly within one book

Full freestyle

… basically means that you use a plain blank book which serves you e.g. for:

  • writing so-call morning pages (every day)
  • writing what ever is on your mind on a (almost) daily basis
  • or doing various occasional reflective writing exercises (e.g. the best-possible self exercise, letter from the future, working to and with your values & many more)

That type is usually for the more advanced people who are already a while on the written self-reflection practise path. With other words: people who already have made journaling a habit.

Don’t hestiate to start with full freestyle also as a newbie but please keep in mind: it might need a lot of discipline at first, you will invest some mental capacity to get into the habit and keep it.

You also might want to get some coaching along your path to get the most out of it.

What’s next?

I’d love to hear about your journaling journey, no matter at which point you are on your way. There’s so much to learn from each other. Use the comment section below or drop me some lines (contact details can be found on respectAndAdapt.rocks).

In case you would like to learn more about journaling, get inspired by my own journey and level-up your reflection practise, have a look at the resources on my new entry page for (Business) Journaling.