Keeping A Diary

There are quite a few types of diaries that people keep, and also quite a few benefits to keeping one.

While men and women tend to differ in the approach towards the way they keep their diaries, there are some common characteristics that do give us long-term benefits. For our purpose I will outline the most basic way of keeping a diary, and will present some of the main benefits to it. Stay tuned – you just might be surprised.

The most bare, basic way to keep a diary is to have a small pocket book that you can carry around with you (no bigger than a phone) and to write things down in it, once a day. You actually don’t need to use more than 2 minutes of your time per day, and you can write anytime you feel like – Although, writing at the same time, for example every morning while drinking coffee or smoking a cigarette is recommended.

So, 2 minutes per day, a few sentences inside and you are done! But what should you write?

Of coarse you can go with the classical approach and write down about past events and the way you feel about them. This helps us vent and makes sure that we don’t take our emotions out on others.

My approach on the other hand is far more simple. A lazy dudes approach if you will. I don’t really talk about my emotions, or what and why I did something. All I do is, wake up, grab a cigarette, open my diary/journal and write all the things that I am supposed to do today. It’s more like a check list, but the effect it has on my discipline and elf organization are pretty good.

So, for example, I write things like: Call these 5 people today, open and read this chapter, Work from 4 to 8, clean your room. It usually doesn’t have more than 5 items in it. This approach helps with quite a few things:

  • It helps me recognize the extent of my daily abilities. The more I practice using my journal, the less I tend to over and under estimate my abilities. If I used to write down 10 things that I would (yeah right) do during the day – Turns out the next day I check, I ended up completing only 4 of them. Thus I adjust the obligations I take on during the day, which helps me prioritize.
  • It helps keep me organized. I’m not floating during the day filled with anxiety. I know what and when I should do. The tasks are small and “Doable”.
  • It Shows me my productivity in retrospect. I used to get the feeling that I’m just wasting time, not doing anything productive, but having the diary allows me to see just how much I actually was working during the past days. This is a very powerful reinforcement, and it also gives me the will to compete with myself.
  • It helps me with my false beliefs about myself. So, for example if I believe that I am not working hard enough or if I’m not studying as much as I should be, I can actually look at the journal and estimate the actual hours and days I put in-front of the book or working, this rational approach helps overcome some self-defeating beliefs and is also used in Rational-Emotive therapy (A. Ellis).
  • It helps with conscientiousness which is a personality trait, which is one of the main predictors (alongside IQ) of personal and career success. This trait is characterized as discipline, organization, grit, perseverance, task orientation etc.

One more thing, when you are writing down your daily goals, make sure thst they are SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Responsible
  • Time-bounded

CGPGray made a great video about the effects of these, I recommend you check it out 🙂

I really needed some time before seeing the benefits of keeping a diary, I hope that you don’t expect instant results.


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