Productivity techniques work differently for everybody, and success translates into millions of targets depending on people. But there are a few universal habits that 10x the chances of success for anyone who is willing to implement them in their routine. No matter the person in charge, the goal, the timeframe, the environment… Some habits just work. Like journaling.
I have been journaling on and off for the past 10 years, and have switched to a consistent practice for the past 4 months. I have experienced with a lot of different journaling systems, and this article is about the one I ended up choosing.
My journaling system is made of 3 journals:
- 1 for weekly and daily planning
- 1 for ideas, on-the-go notes and thoughts
- 1 for a 5-year memory book project
Let’s take a closer look at each of those 3.
Disclaimer: I do not make any money from links included in this article. The links are only here to make it easy for you to check out the product if you’re interested.
1. Inspire Now daily productivity planner
I used to have my own productivity planning template. I designed it myself in Illustrator and it looked like this:
The problem with this was that after a few weeks I ended up with a a lot of sheets flying around, not in the right order, and just all over the place. Tracking progress and consistency easy wasn’t easy.
I also tried a digital version. I would input the data in a spreadsheet. I loved this option because I could automatically plot charts and graphs. But I wasn’t consistent. I would forget to do it at night, have gaps in the data… I realised I was a lot more likely to be consistent if I implemented the tracking process in my morning journaling routine, because I was already doing that everyday.
I researched a ton of different productivity planners. I wanted one that really fit my expectations in terms of data tracking and insights. I ended up choosing the Inspire Now Journal, which I use with a few tweaks of my own.
The page template I use the most is obviously the daily tracker. Here it is, with my modifications:
Every week, I define the goals for the week ahead, and reflect on the past week.
Here is a closer look at the habit tracker:
The habit tracker wasn’t big enough for my taste. So I have a table I print every month, with all the habits I want to keep in check. At the end of each month, I staple it to the last page of the current week, so everything in centralised in one place.
I love tracking habits because I can see how they depend on each other, by crossing the data points together. If I get a previous day score of at least 3/4, a sleep score of at least 3/4, and I ran, I know it’s most likely going to be a good day tomorrow. If I didn’t run, then I need a 4/4 sleep to have a great day.
There’s a ton of other pages available in this journal, but I don’t use all of them.
- Trips to have
- Books to read
- Fitness plan
- Debt management
- Project planner
- Calendar of each month
Inspire Now provides a free PDF to discover all the templates they offer in their journal. Check it out here.
Inspire Now is an awesome productivity planner which works great for me. It covers 6 months of the year and you get a discount when you re-order for the next 6 months.
I highly recommend this journal. Whether you’re starting off with journaling or have been doing it for a while, it can help you clarify your vision, your goals, and the roadmap to reach them.
Check out the Inspire Now Journal here.
2. Dotted Notebook with numbered pages
I use this journal to write and draw on the go, or at my desk. I log article ideas, pitches, sketches…
I used to use a blank notebook without dots. But everything was lacking structure. It was all over the page, and it was always a challenge to get back to an idea I had written 2 weeks ago, lost in the storm of scribbles and doodles.
With that in mind, my dotted notebook has tohave at least these 2 features:
- Numbered pages
- Table of contents
This way, if I have something I know I will want to get back to later, I can write it down in the table of contents, and indicate the corresponding page number.
The dotted notebook trend has been on the rise for a while now. Whether on Pinterest or Instagram, you see a ton of notebooks that look like pieces of art:
This looks amazing, and it can definitely motivate you to structure your work and track your progress when you spend so much time making everything look that nice. But my dotted notebook looks nothing like this.
I use it as a brain-dumper, and the structure offered by the dots, the numbered pages and the table of contents are enough for me to stay motivated to use my journal.
This is the dotted notebook I use.
3. One Line a Day five-year memory book
I found out about this via Amy Chan in an interview I did with her. Each page of this minimalist notebook represents one day of the year, with 5 entries for 5 years. Here is an example of how it works. In 5 years from now, when you write about your day on January 10th, you will be able to see where you were 1, 2, 3, and 4 years ago, on the exact same day.
I think this is an amazing tool for self-development, motivation and long-term vision. So many people pick up something to work on, tell themselves they’re going to keep at it, and drop it after 3 weeks and no results. The secret lies in consistency. Once you’ve defined the project you want to dedicate your time to, you have to be willing to put your head down, get to work, all without expecting any results before a long time:
- 6 months
- 1 year
- 3 years
- 5 years
Just work on your project without expecting any results, and the rest will flow. I believe the accountability that journaling requires, and specifically this notebook format, can help achieve great results.
If you want to learn more about consistency:
- The Daily Talk Show is a podcast with one episode a day, set to last for 10 years, no matter what.
- I wrote The 3 Year Rule: How to Commit to Your Plan And Get Things Done
- Sergey Faldin talks about the 6-month rule here and here
If you want to get the five-year memory book for yourself, check it out here.
4. Bonus: Mini A7 notepad
I carry this little notepad with me everywhere I go. It fits in any pocket, it is super convenient to write on the go, and it weighs almost nothing. It’s really small, 7.4cm x 10.5cm.
I often transfer ideas I wrote throughout the day from this tiny pad to my dotted notebook. I do this at night before going to bed, or in the morning when I journal.
Journaling is one of the few universal habits I truly believe can change lives. The strategies I talk about have proven very efficient for me in the past, and keep working consistently as I move forward. But everyone is different. Journaling can be done in a lot of different ways. This is how it works for me, what matters is the results. Now is your turn.
Grab a pen.
Get a journal.
Start planning your success.