Mind Journaling – What it is and why you need to try it

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Hello everyone!! I hope you are all doing fantastic. Here in Reno it is outrageously hot, but I’m having fun! Today I want to write about something that has really been a game changer for me – I call it a “mind journal”. And its not just having one that changes things, its bringing it with you everywhere, writing everything down, and having it as your companion as you go through the insanity of life.

The why.

As some of you know,  I work full time as an assistant manager of a department store. Its definitely not a job for the faint of heart – or for the disorganized. I struggled at the beginning with not only my actual schedule, but with juggling all the balls that were suddenly in my hands. I did get really good at staying organized with an irregular schedule, though!

My schedule can be literally anything – there are days I work 4 am to 1 pm. There are also days where I work 3:30 pm to 1:30 am. Throw in the occasional overnight (10 pm to 6 am!!) and you have an easy recipe for an organization nightmare. On top of that, a retail manager is a lot of things – a customer service agent, a cashier, a strategist, an economic forecaster, a budget specialist, and even a therapist. My desktop calendar really wasn’t enough to keep track of my own schedule along with the schedules of all the people under me, their responsibilities, my responsibilities, what they were working on, upcoming trucks, clearance marks, sales, etc. All of this made me extraordinarily overwhelmed.

I tell you this not to throw myself a pity party, I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way! Its because if carrying around a journal works for me, then I’m sure it will work for you too! The balls I’m juggling aren’t that different than the balls that some of you juggle. Moms, stay at home bloggers, or even college students juggle just as much! This if finally the way to be the most organized person in the room – every. single. time.

How I got here

I started off my new job with a regular planner. I loved having one of these when I was in college, because it helped me keep track of what was happening and what was due each day. But, when I graduated I realized that the lines and preplanned spaces weren’t enough to keep track of everything I was trying to keep track of!

So, my next option was a bullet journal. And honestly, I didn’t find much wrong with having a bullet journal except for the fact that I felt like it needed to be pretty. I’m definitely not creative enough for that, and I found that to be too intimidating to actually be used productively for me.

Enter.. the journal

What I settled on is a deconstructed bullet journal, but without the need to make it instagram worthy.. a mind journal. Because, the truth is that our minds aren’t always pretty. I just went on Amazon and bought a normal notebook with lined pages, and made it my blank canvas. This is the exact one I use:

I like this one because its cute and tiny enough to bring with me literally everywhere. Its only 5 by 7 so it fits in all my purses. Amazon has so many perfect ones though!!! If you’ve had a similar experience as I did with normal planners, you should try this out. Heres how it works:

The process.

  1. I keep a big list of important dates in the front of my journal (I set aside 10 pages at the beginning). Then I write down important dates that are coming up. Then, I use the middle pages for my day by day. There are also a few misc. pages at the end for shopping lists, big ideas, quotes, ideas and anything else that doesn’t fall into any particular day.
  2. I wake up and immediately grab my journal. I start off my morning routine by writing the date and 5 things I’m thankful for. (I’m a HUGE believer in the LOA, and this is a big part of that for me!)
  3. I then look at my “tomorrow” page from the day before. This is where I wrote down any to-dos that didn’t get done yesterday, or anything else that I felt like I would need for the day ahead. I sit down and write out all my to-dos for today in a big list. Then, on the opposite page I make another column for things that are on my mind. (kind of like a mini bujo plus a mini morning pages)
  4. As I go through my day, I cross off my to-dos, write notes next to them, and jot down my thoughts as they come up. This has included things like blog post ideas, things to google when I get the chance, reminding myself of follow up conversations I need to have at work, recognizing myself for things I’m proud of throughout the day, quotes I like, things to remember to get at the grocery store, songs I want to check out, etc. Basically, I write down any significant thoughts I have so that I dont forget anything. Even the act of writing them down helps your brain be less cluttered because it isn’t trying to remember everything.
  5. When I get home, I take an hour or so to google everything that I wanted to, organize my jotted down thoughts on a different page, and cross things off that are done, written down, or are no longer important.
  6. At the end of the day, when I’m getting ready to go to bed, I look back over my page(s) from the day. I take a few minutes to reflect and look for any patterns in my notes. I take this time to also look at my wins and the things I learned. Lastly, I finish off the page with saying something I’m proud of, something I need to work on, 5 things I’m thankful for, and any progress I’ve made towards my bigger goals.
  7. I start a page that I call “Tomorrow” where I write down anything that didn’t get crossed off before, things to remember for the next day, notes to myself, etc. I use my “tomorrow” page as a starting point in the morning when I start writing out my to-do list.

Some more things to think about

It may seem disorganized, but having a journal like this keeps me more organized than anything has ever before. The reason behind this is that every day is different, so the structure that I use to keep track of each day is different too! With a traditional planner I found that there wasn’t much space to put things like grocery lists or just random thoughts. But this way, theres nothing that cant go in my journal! Its an end-all place to keep track of literally everything – work, blog, life, doctors appointments, goals, dreams, etc. My mind journal is fully able to be a reflection of my mind because it isn’t limited to any specific structure. That way, it can match whatever structure my mind is working at on any given day.

I’ve found that crossing things off as I go helps keep my mind at ease as well. In other planners, I wasn’t always doing that because it was “ugly”. This left my mind so cluttered. When I cross something off, it helps me keep track of what ISNT crossed off. This signals to my mind what is and isn’t important. It also helps me keep track of what I did and didn’t do, so that I can start the next day off with a clean slate.

Everything that I write down gets put in the journal, so that I have a centralized place where I keep everything. As I got used to making a structure that was a good representation of my head, I started using sticky notes, tabs highlighters, etc. Everyone’s journal is going to look a bit different because everyone’s thought process is different. A mind journal needs to be completely your own to work as it should.

Getting started

Go out, buy a journal. It doesn’t have to be any specific size, but it should be small enough to carry around literally anywhere. (So I don’t recommend a spiral notebook).

First and foremost, set aside 10 pages at the beginning as important dates pages. I just list out the month and then each date gets its own line. As I go, I write down anything specific going on that day. I refer to those every morning as I plan.

On page 11 I start with my first “today” page. I recommend starting in the morning so that you can have a full day with your journal. Then, just keep going with those steps, day after day. Over the days and weeks, your structure will naturally change as you get used to it. As you go you can fine tune it with your own personal thought processes.

**Its very important to keep it with you literally everywhere. That way, you have it handy when you need to write something down!! Treat it as you would your phone. Dont just let it sit in your purse all day where you’ll forget about it!

Wrapping up

This mind journal has literally changed everything for me. I think so much clearer, which makes all the difference when you’re juggling a million things and tackling big problems. I dont forget things because they’re on paper, and I can see my progress day after day.

I’m able to write down my affirmations and things that I am working on. Since I wrote them down, I’m able to see them play out in my notes from the day. I know myself more than ever because I’m able to look down at a tangible piece of my brain.

So, if you are frustrated with your current planner, or are fed up because you cant find one that works with your life, then try this. A mind journal works for everybody because its unique to the person who created it. Its a work of art – not because its instagram worthy like a bullet journal. But , its awesome because it is the clearest possible view of your own mind.

Once you get into the rhythm, you’ll get used to having your journal as an exact reflection of your mind. The power in this is that then your mind will start being a reflection of your journal! If you write positively in your journal, your thoughts will reflect that. If you write your intentions in your journal, they’ll be reflected in your mind. Almost like a portable, ever changing vision board.

Have you tried it? Are you going to? Do you have any questions? Let me know down below!!


    • lifeofria

      I unfortunately am still working on putting together a mailing list, but for now you can follow me on pinterest and check out my facebook page!! I appreciate your interest! 🙂

  • Denotchka

    Thanks for the information. This was a great idea and I have a particular journal right now that is a spiral notebook, but I plan on using a different idea when I am done because it has a leather jacket you can actually reuse. I even have a smaller one like this and by the time it is over with I will just carry both of them for different purposes. Now I have an idea of what the new Sherlock Holmws series is talking about about when he pulls this “mind palace “ junk. I wondered if that was it. The problem is it sounds New Age and weird to me. Hey whatever works I guess.

  • Cyndy

    Love the idea! Even though I’m retired, I need structure. I’m not artistic, and bullet journals dont work for me. Yours sounds like a better option for me. I wish you had pictures of some of your pages as a sample.

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