Okay. Don’t laugh.
In the last 30 days, I started a new habit: journaling.
Before you think I’m crazy or a complete nerd (even more than you may already), my “journal journey” has made a positive impact on my business—and my life.
It Starts with Creativity…
The week following Labor Day, I attended HubSpot’s Inbound Conference 2018 in Boston, like every year. Not only is it a great event full of a ton to learn, see, and do, it also gives me a break from the day to day. And without the daily grind of meetings, phone calls, cats, and housework cluttering my mind, I have found that creativity and brainstorming new ideas happen easier.
By nature, I wouldn’t really call myself a “creative” person. Although I am talented in other areas, I’m the furthest thing from a designer. I can’t draw. I can’t paint. I can barely pick out colors to paint a room in my house.
But I can write.
In fact, approximately 30 to 50% of my business is content writing. However, I have discovered—the hard way—that I can NOT write ALL day. My creativity runs out, and I burn out…
For a while, I worried that I wasn’t “creative” enough to be a good writer. Then, after doing some research, I discovered that human beings are only creative for approximately 4 hours per day.
I probably don’t get a full 4 hours of creativity; maybe only 2-3—on a good day. And I’m my most creative self first thing in the morning.
So, I have discovered that if I wake up and start the morning off with the right mindset, I am able to really maximize on periods of creativity.
And journaling has helped bring this out.
Before you think, “Julie, this is a crock of sh*t”, check out this article on the mental and physical health benefits of journaling.
My Journal Journey
So, after writing nearly every morning for the last 45-ish days, here are some ways that journaling has helped me personally and professionally:
- Get in the Right Mindset.
Even though I get up early, I’ve learned that jumping in the shower, getting dressed, and sitting down to work within the first 30 minutes doesn’t quite cut it—even with a cup or two of coffee. I often feel overwhelmed with where to start and what to prioritize, in amidst of trying to catch up on 100+ emails, Slack messages, and Trello notifications. trying to prioritize, unsure of where to start.
However, I now spend the first 30 minutes of the day writing down my thoughts, feelings, and what I have to do for the day. This allows me to prioritize, plan, and get in the right mindset for the day.
Increase Focus.The right mindset and focus really go hand in hand. Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of journaling is focus. Some mornings I write about a few different things; other days I only write about one thing on my mind.
Regardless of what I write or how much, the act of getting my thoughts/feelings down on paper allows me to focus throughout the day—without the afternoon “crash”.
Plan and Prioritize My Day.Some days are obviously busier than others. For example, Mondays and Tuesdays (and sometimes Wednesdays) are often my busiest days of the week. So, my journal topics tend to be more focused on prioritizing and planning on these days. Writing down what I have to do and simultaneously making a to-do list for the day helps me plan the day more efficiently.
Recognize Feelings and Passions.By nature, I am an emotional and passionate person, which is a good and a bad thing. It’s a bad thing because people misunderstand me for being overly angry and dramatic. I will admit that being misunderstood by my friends, family, and loved ones was very hurtful. However, I’ve learned to ignore it. I don’t have mental problems; I’m just more in tune with my emotions.
Additionally, humans with a high level of emotional intelligence also have a high level of personal competence (knowing and managing self) and social competence (awareness of others and the ability to manage relationships effectively).
Journaling has helped me face and become more in tune with my feelings and passions, and reminded me that it is okay.
- Enhance Creativity.
As mentioned above, journaling has helped me clear my mind, focus, and brainstorm new ideas, whichenhances creativity. As a result, working on my creative writing projects during my peak creativity hours has become much easier.
For example, earlier this week I wrote an article for a client after journaling. And I mean I wrote an article. This article was full of life, personality, storytelling, and information—all things this client loves. The article ended up being so long that we decided to break it up into two different articles. It wasn’t my intention to extend beyond the scope of the article, but the ideas were just flowing that I just kept writing.
- Be Better At My Job. The combination of increased focus, creativity, planning and prioritizing has allowed me to do my job better. I am more alert and focused, which has allowed me to not only serve my clients better, but I’m also more proactive, responsive, accurate, and I just get more sh*t done.
- Be a Better Boss Lady. This year I hired a team which consists of 4 writers, a content manager/marketing assistant, and an admin/billing specialist. I am very fortunate to be able to work with such awesome people. They have really brought new ideas and personalities to the table that I myself couldn’t do alone.
Additionally, I get more done during the day with their help, but their productivity and success depends on me. I have learned that I need to provide them with tools, resources, and processes to help them do their jobs better. This has forced me to be a better leader.
During my morning journaling, I have dedicated some time to think about how to be a better leader, how I can better serve my team, and what I can do to help them be more successful in their roles. Their success ultimately ties into my own success, as well as the success of the business.
- Improve My Relationship. Although I have been successful in my professional life, relationships (intimate, friendly, and familial) have been my biggest challenge and failure. I admit that I become so consumed with my job that I often forget about what’s really important in my life.
Before you call me selfish, I have figured out the REAL meaning behind this… Business is where I’ve seen the most joy and success in my life. My business doesn’t cheat on me. It doesn’t steal from me. It doesn’t physically or emotionally hurt me.
It might seem ridiculous to personify my business this way, but it’s how my brain has dealt with physical and emotional pain over the years. It has become a positive outlet for me.
However, even though I am in a happy and healthy relationship today, I still find that my business consumes my thoughts and my time. Journaling helps me realize that this is actually a choice rather than an obligation. It also reminds me that when I take time for myself—just myself—then I am a more patient, attentive, caring, and enjoyable partner, sister, daughter, friend and cat mom.
- Be a Better Pole Dancer. Journaling helped me think about and focus on my pole fitness life. In fact, it is journaling that helps me remember the importance of diet, sleep, strength training, conditioning, and flexibility (in and outside the studio).
Additionally, journaling after my performing publically during our studio showcase has helped me reflect on how it made me feel, the hard work I put into it, and find the confidence to compete this year.
- Increase Awareness. Above all, journaling has helped me become more aware. I’m more aware of my thoughts, feelings, creativity, and even eat and sleep better. It has really helped me put things into perspective.
You don’t have to be a professional writer to start a journal. In fact, one of the things I love most about journaling is that I make it a point to forget “the rules of writing”. I don’t worry about punctuation, paragraph length and structure, or flow. I just… write. Much of journaling is free association. It’s about letting your thoughts run and getting them down on paper.
All in all, journaling has become something I look forward to every morning. It’s amazing to me to think that something so simple could have such a big impact on my business—and my life.