Jotting down your thoughts is a great way to increase your productivity and boost your mental health. Even a short 15-minute journaling session can elevate feelings of well-being and decrease some symptoms of depression.
Putting pen to paper can give you a sense of purpose, too. This is particularly important if you are going through a period of change or want to manage your time more efficiently. Journaling forces you to think about your habits and can help you make meaningful changes to your life.
Metacognition is every purposeful person’s superpower. Put simply, metacognition is “the ability to think about one’s own thinking and learning”. This sounds deceptively simple but can actually supercharge your free time and help you make meaningful lifestyle changes.
Keeping a journal can prompt you to discover insights that empower you. It can also help you shift the way you think about yourself and the world around you. This is an important step to take if you really want to make the most of your free time. Metacognitive journal entries can also help you see how much free time you waste while scrolling through social media or twiddling your thumbs.
When writing with metacognition in mind, focus on the way you approach challenges, setbacks, or achievements. This will help you peel back a cognitive layer and help you become more aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Becoming aware of your own shortcomings may be a little painful at first, but self-awareness can lead to a period of personal growth and higher productivity.
Utilizing Your Free Time
Most people have a precious few hours of free time every day. However, if you have more free time than most, you may want to turn the slack in your schedule into an income-boosting side hustle.
Use your journal time to explore some side-hustle ideas that align with your interests and values. For example, if you are an avid gamer, you could consider a series of journal entries that help you identify ways to monetize your hobby. You could even explore the idea of making money on Twitch and use your journal to identify targets like:
- Secure 5 tier 3 subscribers in a month;
- Become a Twitch partner in the next year;
- Produce merchandise for fans.
Use this example to set some distinct targets of your own. You could, for example, use your journal to document your goals and reflect on how you utilized your free time that day. This reflective, introspective approach can help you appreciate the time you set aside for self-development and improvement.
Improving Your Health
People have been using journals to improve their health and make lifestyle changes for millennia. You too can use your journal to take control of your thoughts and boost your wellbeing.
If you find the idea of exercise regimes and diet changes to be overwhelming, start with a skincare journal. Being intentional about skin care is important for your overall health as practicing good skin habits can help prevent aging, sun damage, and wrinkles down the line. It can also improve your mental health, too. Even a quick face scrub or moisturizing session can give you a mental boost and help forge a connection between self-care and well-being.
Consider tracking your health in a journal format. This needn’t boil down to quantitative facts about your weight or waistline. Instead, reflect on the way you feel in your body and how your regime has helped you adopt a body-positive mindset. This is far more sustainable and may even help you achieve health goals related to weight loss or gain and fitness.
Journal Prompts for Purposeful Free Time
A blank page is every writer’s worst nightmare. However, when journaling, an empty page is an invitation to start writing down your thoughts and feelings. That said, you may struggle to get started — particularly if you are new to journaling.
Get your journaling habit off to a good start by selecting from one of the following prompts:
- When was the last time you felt free from stress? Describe the day and focus on things like the weather, location, and sensory details.
- If you could replace the time you spend on social media with something productive, what would it be?
- Detail a few financial goals. Are there any lifestyle changes you can make to achieve these goals sooner?
- If you were a movie character, what would a montage of your most productive day look like? Describe the scenes and be sure to include key details like the backing tracks and sounds.
- How much time do you spend on self-care? Could you spend more of your free time resting and relaxing? How would this impact your mood and productivity?
These journal prompts can get you used to the idea of introspection and reflection. In time, try to generate a few journal prompts of your own. Consider setting aside one day per week to write your prompts. This will reduce the risk of writer’s block when you sit down to journal and can help you put pen to paper quickly.
It is worth bearing in mind that your journal doesn’t have to be structured. However, if you want to use your journal for productivity purposes, consider jotting down the metrics you use to track success at the start of your journal. This will help you visualize your progression and can bring you a sense of pride when writing.
Journaling can help you reflect on the day in a safe space. This is particularly helpful if you want to maximize your productivity and get more from your free time. Even a quick daily journal can help you identify disruptive behaviors and track a few goals.
When journaling, bear in mind that you can not always be productive. It is OK to take some time for yourself from time to time. Rather than criticizing yourself for vegging out in front of the TV, reflect on why you needed that mental break and try to reflect on the way you recover after a hard day at work.
Author bio: Miles Oliver is an independent writer with a background in business and passion for psychology, news, and simply helping people live happy and fulfilled lives. He has lived and traveled all over the United States and continues to expand his awareness and experiences. When he is not writing, he is most likely mountain biking or kicking back with a cup of tea.
Journaling Power Revolution Series