Random thoughts journal turned into personal growth tool

At the beginning of September after month of over thinking such a small thing as having a journal I decided to do it. The simple reason behind why should I take time to sit quietly and write is that I needed to “throw away” my thoughts on paper and improve my sleep.

As Tim Ferriss wrote on his blog regarding his journaling practice “Morning pages don’t need to solve your problems. They simply need to get them out of your head, where they’ll otherwise bounce around all day like a bullet ricocheting inside your skull.” (check out his post What My Morning Journal Looks Like). So here I was just trying to squeeze out a bit more and better sleep by this “unconventional method”. I aimed to write at least 1-2 sentences each night before sleep. My priority was to put on paper any thoughts that worried me and prevented me from falling asleep quickly.

How I did it and how will I continue doing it.

The beginning of my journaling

I started the daily practice of writing on September the 12th and scheduled a complete reflection every 1st day of the month. Each night I sat down right before bed to write at least 1-2 sentences of anything that came to my mind. This was the bare minimum I aimed at to ensure  that journaling is viable option for me in the long run.

I decided to journal on regular old paper notebook to cut the screen time before sleep and any possible distractions

Writing by hand is not my thing – it takes more time, more effort and the result usually is… well… nearly unreadable. But I stuck with it, just for the sake of this journaling experiment. As in most cases things are not as bad as you thought they will.

Since day (or I should say night) 1, journaling never bothered nor bored me. I never wrote just 1-2 sentences as I intended. I was literally writing pages (which done by hand takes ages) of thoughts, observations, reflections and notes of the books and articles I read or listened that day.

On 1st of October I sat down to review everything I wrote so far and to reflect on it. Because I did not start journaling at the beginning of September, I had only 19 days of journaling to review. Only 3 of them had  actual worrisome and black thoughts because of which I started the thing. The other 16 days consisted mostly of:

  • Notes on books I read
  • Notes on books I listen (if you have not started listening Audiobooks, you are missing a lot!)
  • Notes from articles I read
  • Observations from work
  • Ideas that I want to implement from the books and articles I was reading
  • Lessons from meetings and discussions

Some of my notes from this first reflection session

  • Allow yourself enough time for everything you do. This does NOT mean to postpone or be lazy, quite the opposite – to think and work harder and longer. In other words to be patient. The results should come.
  • Not having enough sleep one night is not a big deal. Usually 2-3 espressos work like magic. Not sleeping enough for 2 or more nights in a row result in being easily irritated.

Usually 7 hours of sleep is more than I need, thus I am getting on a daily basis around 6 hours that ensures my perfect condition. Getting 5 or less hours of sleep guarantees that I will be annoyed by pretty much everything the next day. Not only that, but my productivity levels drop significantly.

  • To influence people, you must first find the right chord of the people you are targeting and find a way to strike it effectively.
  • When setting up goals for the day, beware which of them completely depend on your actions and which not. Do not get frustrated by not reaching those that are not up to you.
  • I am really bad on micro managing and doing the small things. My strength is in looking at the big picture.
  • Meaningful work – defined by Malcolm Gladwell in his book The Outliers – consists of the following ingredients
  1. There should be a clear relationship between hard work and reward
  2. The work should be complex (challenging enough)
  3. The work should be autonomous (to have freedom to operate)
  • No one who raises before sunrise fails to make his family rich – Chinese proverb
  • Make a list of your weaknesses
  • As a leader you must take responsibility for your whole teams’ mistakes. The team is above even its leader. For every mistake done by someone of the team, the leader could have done something to prevent it. (From the book Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin)

To my astonishment, when I decided to start the journal, I was always thinking that bad thoughts will fill out each page. I tended to believe that things preventing me (and you probably) from falling asleep are always negative notions coming and going. It turned out that my brain wanted to “upload” the daily information on somewhere to “free up” some space. Of course this is my believe and the conclusion is by no means scientifically proven.

How will I continue journaling

  1. Instead of reviewing and reflecting once a month, I will have a bit different approach to reflection. I will review my journal entries on a weekly basis and will have 1 major reflection session at the beginning of each month.
  2. I will start digitizng my notes simply by scanning and uploading them to iCloud. I just want to make sure that nothing gets lost.
  3. I will start carrying pocket-sized notebook throughout the day to log thoughts and ideas as soon as I get them. I am afraid that I might be missing something by just writing at night.


Although I find myself falling asleep quicker, the side effect that I missed to predict is now the biggest reason I journal and will continue to do so. The journal has become a valuable part of my daily routine and houses important ideas, information and observations I want to keep and implement in my  life. It became a source of knowledge and inspiration that I want to go back, take a look and find way to improve myself.

I will be more than happy to discuss journaling with anyone who is also doing that. As I lack experience, the exchange of knowledge potentially could help me improve quicker and more efficiently.

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