One of my favorite business tools is my journal. I admit to being lost without my smart phone, Evernote app and online calendar, but nothing beats pen and paper when it comes to building clarity and staying focused in my business. In fact, no matter how addicted I am to the digital world, I don’t actually make progress on my “big picture” goals until I’ve explored them in my journal. Now before you dismiss this as “just another thing that you will probably fail to keep up with,” let me encourage you by saying there is no wrong way to journal! The key is to find what works for you and make it part of your sacred business rituals – meaning it becomes a habit that you do on a regular basis (whatever that means for you). And don’t be fooled into thinking this is just a pointless self-help exercise. Journal writing is not just for love-struck teens and couples in counseling. Successful entrepreneurs — including Oprah and Suze Orman — understand the power of the written word in business. In fact business gurus such as Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, have been professing the benefits of journal writing for decades. So a journal is an essential tool in your toolbox. When it comes to business journaling, you can use this tool to become more productive and creative at work. You can also use it to prioritize and organize your tasks, generate fresh new ideas and gain clarity on your long-term strategy and goals. Here are 10 ways to use a journal to boost your business:
- Clean up the mind clutter. Start your workday by doing a brain dump in your journal. Spend a few minutes free-writing and let everything flow from your brain to the paper. Julia Cameron calls these Morning Pages and they are designed open up your mind for a creative and productive day by releasing all the chaotic thoughts that run around in your head all day.
- Celebrate your successes! If you’re a solo-business owner, you may not have anyone to share in your small victories – like cleaning out your office files, getting that contract signed or being accepted for the speaking gig you’ve been wanting forever. So, feel free to boast, brag and celebrate in the pages of your journal – you deserve it!
- Ask tough questions. Sometimes it’s difficult to verbalize the difficult questions, like “What am I really doing with this business?” or “How do I think it’s ever going to succeed?” or “Is this really what I want to do with my life?” Your journal is a safe place to explore the answers to those questions and gain clarity.
- Reinforce new insights. As a business owner, you are constantly learning new things. Spend some time writing about those lessons and how they apply to your business growth. Your journal pages will make learning more real and applicable to your business.
- Capture creative ideas. Don’t be the victim of “Disappearing Idea Syndrome!” Use your journal to immediately write down those brilliant ideas that come to you in the shower or the middle of the night. Don’t worry if they are not entirely flushed out – just get them down on paper before you forget.
- Make better decisions. A regular habit of journal writing will keep you in touch with your own thoughts, feelings and goals. So when it comes time to make an important decision, the pages of your journal will be an invaluable tool.
- Identify trends, opportunities and obstacles. Most people don’t realize how often they talk or think about a life dream or a particular challenge they are having. If you find yourself writing about a frustrating situation, toxic relationship, secret desire or anything else over a period of time, you’re naturally going to be aware of it in your journal. And we know that awareness is always the first step.
- Become a better communicator. The best writing happens in the re-writing. Use your journal to write your first drafts of important business communications – from customer service messages to marketing materials.
- Become a better negotiator. How can you ever get what you want out of a business relationship, deal or situation unless you KNOW what you want? Before any important business discussion – especially one that involves conflict – use your journal to identify your ideal outcome and deal breakers.
10. Listen for divine direction. Perhaps the best use of a journal is not in the writing, but in the listening. Let God guide your pen and learn to read between the lines of your own words. You will discover the clarity and confidence that only comes with divine direction. (For specific writing prompts, download your free Divinely Inspired Goals Guide here.) What are your thoughts on journal writing for business? How can you use a journal to keep you focused, organized and creative?