A Quick Journal Practice

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not that great at keeping to a routine. I find it difficult to stick to a schedule, however, I have developed a quick journal practice that I’ve stuck with for years. When I stop because of holidays or travel, I truly miss it. This practice keeps me focussed on what is important to me and helps me stay optimistic.

It is simple and quick but I’ll break it down into bits. Just pull out what works best for you if you don’t feel drawn to doing the whole thing.

I’ve incorporated much that I’ve learned from Leah Goard into my practice and I love her DDA Manifesto Journals! Photo Credit: Pauline Holden @folktos 

Part 1

5 things that I’m grateful for.

Just 1 word or phrase will do like:

  1. the break in the rain yesterday
  2. my daughter called
  3. our warm home
  4. dark chocolate
  5. the coffee Patrick made me this morning (he’s my hubby)

Simple. If you are just beginning, start here. It will honestly lift you up a little to think for a minute and write these 5 things down. Even on my darkest days, I can find 5 things.

Part 2

3 things that I will do for myself.

Again, keep it simple, especially if you have a full plate. I write stuff like:

  1. take my vitamins
  2. go to bed earlier tonight
  3. stretch for 10 minutes on my yoga mat or sit for 10 in meditation. If I have more time then I’ll add take a bubble bath, look for a new book or go for a hike in the forest.

I know you know this but this practice helps remind us that if we take care of ourselves we are more productive and in a better place to serve others.

Part 3

3 work / home related to dos.

The experts say that no matter how full our schedules are, realistically, we can only accomplish 3 tasks on our to do list in a day. Pick the ones on your list that will make the most impact. The rest can wait until you’ve done your top 3 and are often really not that important. Some to dos need to be shelved for a different time, delegated to someone else or dropped all together.

My work to dos involve painting of course, writing newsletters or blog posts like this one, prepping to teach, submitting applications to exhibitions, updating my website, developing new courses, responding to correspondence etc. I try to just pick 3 and if I get more done, bonus!

On weekends I’ll have home and yard chores on my list but I also try to leave a day a week free from to dos of any kind!

Part 4

1 thing I’m going to do for someone else

If you are a parent or a caregiver I understand that you could fill your page with an endless list of things you do for others in one day but I think, it is important to recognize how you serve and to whom. Some of us, depending on our stage of life or circumstances will need to pause for a moment on this question. My answers vary so much from day to day like: make dinner for my hubby (he’s our main cook), run errands for a family member, do my best to share my knowledge with my students today or promote the work of another artist friend.

Part 5

1 opportunity to express yourself

This is wide open to interpretation. Sometimes I simply write paint, other times I write down something like: send that tough email that is a polite “no,” or write a personal caption on my instagram post or text a heart felt thank you, or share how I really feel about an issue in today’s board meeting. Use your voice today, that is what I’m asking you to do.

Part 6

1 reflection

Think back to the day before or the recent past and write down something that you have learned. It could be that with hindsight you realized that you spent way too much time yesterday worrying about something. Or maybe you had a conversation yesterday with someone and they said something that really made you think, this is the place to write it down and hold on to it for a while. You could have read something, heard something or simply had an ah-ha about a situation that has been lingering in your subconscious. Learning is life long and keeps us youthful. I like to remind myself of that on a daily basis.

That’s it.

That is 14 things to write down. I know it might seem like a lot but honestly this takes me 5 minutes while I sip my coffee. It keeps me off my devices, makes me smile, helps me focus and plans out a fabulous and productive day ahead. I rarely look back on the list and I usually do a “sacrificial” burn of my journals at the end of the year. They are a valuable tool that keeps me living in the present moment but I don’t need to hang on to them.

These 14 short notes to myself are also connected to the main themes of the 7 chakras of which, I’m a big fan. If you want to learn more, I have an extensive explanation here.


p.s. Last year at this time, I shared a New Year’s practice called “Read this before you say yes to (insert year here). It was popular, so I’m mentioning it again in case you missed it.

p.s.s You can buy one of Leah’s journals at https://shop.leahgoard.com/  $16

By Marlene Lowden

I'm an abstract artist and a down to earth yogi. I live on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, Canada.