Limited Journaling for Those Who Can’t Journal


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I often hear from people who say they have tried keeping a journal, but just can’t keep up the habit consistently. Others face the fear of the blank page…they don’t know what to write. Yet others feel that their life isn’t exciting enough, fun enough, or in any way worthy of recording.

One of the common complaints I’ve heard from readers and my friends who like the idea of keeping a journal runs along the lines of “I live a dull routine of work and home. Weekends are full of chores, an occasional outing, or obligatory family visits. It’s boring to even write about it.”

I get it. It’s difficult to motivate yourself to journal in your already busy schedule when journaling itself feels like a chore. So this article is for all of you, who would like to keep a journal, but for whatever reason haven’t been able to. But if you are already keeping a journal, then good news is, you can use these exercises too, to add another dimension or a creative layer to  your journaling. 

The idea is to make it less scary, and easy. Therefore, instead of the blank canvas, you can limit your journaling. Before I go deeper into the many ways through which you can do limited journaling, I want you to pay attention to the tools you are using. Therefore, the first thing you need to do is make the process appealing, by buying a nice journal and a pen. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does have to be something that you find pleasant. The notebook needs to be welcoming, appealing…if you use the same notepad for journaling that you do to dish out chores for your household, it’s unlikely to feel special. This makes even the anticipation of journaling a more happier prospect. A pretty notebook, a classic leatherbound journal, an understated moleskine….depending on your taste, any of these are more likely to encourage you to write than that ratty notebook you’ve got lying around the house. Same goes for a pen. Make sure it’s comfortable and works well on the notebook you have chosen. If you need convincing, read this article: Why you should always use quality journals

Got it?

Cool. Now let’s move onto how you can keep a limited journal:

1. Keep a list journal

No need to write paragraphs. Or complete sentence. Just make a list. Doesn’t matter what kind of list it is. You can either do it thematically, such as, Things I Ate, What I Did, People I Saw, or you can simply use a list full of words/phrases that describes your day, emotions, reflections etc.

Remember, the only rule of journaling is that there are no rules. So do whatever works for  you. If you are not sure, experiment.

2. Keep one sentence journal

If lists aren’t your thing, or you want to branch out a bit, simply commit to writing one sentence daily in your journal. At the end of the year, you will have 365 sentences. And chances are, there will be days when you write more simply because you couldn’t stop yourself. It will also force you to learn to be succinct or to pick out things from your day that matter to you the most.

3. Keep three words journal

Forget sentences and lists. For a more restrictive approach, just use three words. They can be absolutely anything. 

4. Journal for 5 Minutes a Day

If word count doesn’t work you, try time restriction. Set a timer and journal for 5 minutes. Do a free write, so that you write whatever comes into your mind without stopping. It can be about your day, or it can be just whatever is going on in your mind. There are no restrictions. You can do the same for 10 minutes a Day if you want. 

5. Keep a doodle/drawing journal

If you are a more visual person, or more artistically inclined, then you can draw or doodle an image a day in your journal. 

6. Line from a song/movie/book

Each day, you can write a line from a song/movie/book etc. that represents your day. 


As you can see from above, journaling isn’t just about writing paragraph after paragraph of reflections, or about describing your day. It can be anything. Try these ideas out. Try to be consistent, and do it daily. Because keeping a regular journal is about forming a habit rather than how much you write. Once the habit is formed, it becomes a second nature, even if you skip a day or a week. 



Grab that pretty notebook, and get started with one of these exercises!