Online Options for Daily Gratitude Journaling: Resources for Those Who Prefer Keyboards to Pens

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My best friend has the most beautiful handwriting.  It’s flowy and pretty and easy to read.  She loves to send cards and letters the old fashioned way, so for years I’ve been the lucky recipient of some of the most beautifully penned thoughts and sentiments.

I used to have beautiful handwriting.  But somewhere between grade school and college my handwriting slipped from award-winning to mediocre to hieroglyphic symbols.

“It’s like my brain moves too fast for my hand,” I say half-apologetically to the cashier as I furiously scribble out my check. “Believe it or not, I used to win penmanship awards in grade school.”

Sure, my horrible handwriting has had some consequences:

Text from irritated husband: “I can’t make out the grocery list. You want eggs, milk and what?”

Me (equally irritated):  “Bread, honey.  It says bread.”

But for the most part, the only person this flaw has affected is me, and in pretty minor ways.

Recently, though, I’ve been hearing more and more about the benefits of daily journaling.  Research ‘morning rituals of successful people’ and you’ll likely find that most of them incorporate some form of journaling in their daily routine (whether it be morning pages, gratitude entries or just a free flow of thoughts).  The following are some of the most commonly reported reasons for keeping a journal:

  • to clarify thoughts
  • to dream big
  • to set goals and intentions
  • to track and monitor progress
  • to become self-aware (through honest reflection)
  • to preserve mental energy (by expelling ideas and thoughts onto paper)
  • to express gratitude
  • to improve writing skills through the daily exercise of writing

(I highly recommend this article on Medium: How I Use My Journal to Create My Future and Achieve Goals by Benjamin Hardy)

It didn’t take me long to see the benefits, and I soon began drooling over which moleskin journal I would select to start chronicling my journey to success.  I imagined myself in a coffee shop writing life-changing affirmations in bold, black ink, reminding myself of who I am and who I’m working to become.

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And then I remembered my handwriting.

Rather than be stymied, I did what any self-respecting writer and former paralegal would do, I hit up Google:

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Fortunately, Google also serves as my spelling and grammar police:
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Why, yes.  Yes, I did.

Google’s corrected search produced the following page one results:

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My personal favorite:
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Now, I’m a huge self-improvement advocate, but I’m not gonna lie, my handwriting is not on my list of Top 10 things to work on right now.

So I did some more research and found several online journaling resources. Here are a few, including brief descriptions of each in their own words:

Penzu
“Whether you’re looking for a tool to record your daily emotions and activities in a reflective journal, keep track of milestones in a food diary or pregnancy journal, or even record your dreams in a dream journal, Penzu has you covered. Penzu gives you all the tools you need to focus on the ideas you want to preserve, rather than the process of writing itself.”

JRNL
“JRNL offers a unique and enjoyable journaling experience while providing innovative tools that you are going to love.”

Online Journal
“Online Journal gives you a very private and free place to record your thoughts, feelings and ideas. We have tons of journal topics to help you get started. You can use it as frequently or infrequently as you would like.”

Five Minute Journal App
“There are plenty of benefits to journaling, whether you take time to write out your full thoughts or just spend a few minutes jotting down the things you’re most grateful for every day or lessons you’ve learned. The Five Minute Journal app makes this process easy enough to do on the go.”

All of the above are ways to record your thoughts online in a private way.  Of course, you can simply create a private blog.

You don’t need anything fancy.

In fact, my current online journal is simply a running Google doc in Google Drive.  Here’s the beginning of an entry from last week:

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Nothing fancy.  It’s simple and uncomplicated.  I’m not limited in length.  I can copy and paste quotes, pictures, meaningful e-mails.  I can access it from anywhere.  I can print it off whenever I want to — even when it’s 300 pages long.  I don’t have to worry about losing it, or not having it when I want to journal. I can create a back-up or copy with ease.  And, most importantly, I can look back at my entries and actually read them.

I wasted weeks thinking about journaling, but once I convinced myself that it wasn’t “fake” journaling to type my thoughts into the computer, I started journaling right away and have been doing so almost every day since.

There is still something so beautiful and classic about manually penning your thoughts and dreams into the pages of a notebook or journal.  After all, it’s been the primary means of expression for hundreds of years.  I suppose I’ll have to comfort myself with the knowledge that methods of self-expression have evolved since the beginning of time, and the importance is less in the mode, but in the expression itself.

Takeaway:  If your handwriting isn’t the best, or if you simply prefer typing to handwriting, check out some of these online journals, start a private blog, or just open a new Google doc and start journaling today.

Ditch any feelings that you’re not “doing it right”.

You’re 100 times more likely to stick with something if you choose a method that works for you.

Resources:

How I Use My Journal to Create My Future and Achieve Goals by Benjamin Hardy
Source: Medium (9/16/17)

Five of the Best Sites for Creating an Online Journal or Diary
Source: Blogging.org (1/18/18)

The 10 Best Journaling Apps for 2018 by Melanie Pinola
Source: Zapier Blog (1/4/18)

8 Reasons Keeping a Journal Can Help You Reach Your Goals by Joshua Becker
Source: Becoming Minimalist Blog

How to Become Ridiculously Self-Aware in 20 Minutes by Tom Kuegler
Source: Medium (5/29/18)

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How Podcasts Can Help With Mindset and Productivity [Including My Top Recommendations]

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I’ve written about my love of podcasts here, here and here.

They enable you to continue your career and self-development journeys and tackle the non-business things that need to get done in real life.

Those career-inspiring stories you’ve spent hours reading on your laptop?  You can catch those on podcasts.  Those writing and marketing posts you’ve been devouring?  Yep, there’s a podcast for that.

With over 500,000 podcasts on Apple Podcasts alone, there’s literally a podcast for everybody, in every genre.

Chances are, some of your favorite bloggers and writers have their own podcasts, or at the very least have been interviewed on one.

Another plus? The podcast medium is more flexible, which means those motivational interviews and stories can get really deep.

So while sometimes I’d love to have just another hour or two on the computer, a forced break can be rejuvenating.  Plus:

Podcasts help me get things done.

→  While folding laundry, I can learn exactly how to start a freelance writing business.

→  While whipping up a stir-fry, I can learn ways to overcome fear and self-doubt.

→  While doing dishes, I can listen to empowering stories of every day people like you and me who’ve pushed past great obstacles to create the lives they love.

When I’m cooking or cleaning, I like to connect my phone or iPad to this portable bluetooth speaker. That way I can hear the podcast over the sounds of cooking (or my kids) and, if needed, carry the speaker with me from room to room.

What’s more, when I return to my computer, I can resume my work with a feeling of accomplishment and a freer conscience.

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I use travel time for self-development as well.

I’m in my car for about an hour a day.  If I’m driving alone or just waiting for my kids, I’ll look for podcasts that address my specific needs or worries at the time, whether it be online marketing, social media, or help with SEO.

If I’m in my car, I’ll put my phone on speaker and place it in the cupholder or on the console so I can listen hands-free. Some people like to pair their phones to their cars via Bluetooth so they can listen through the car speakers.

Cool tip: Don’t have a portable speaker? Try sticking your phone inside a large cup or bowl. While not as good as a speaker, you’ll be amazed at the boost in volume. Placing the phone speaker sound down allows the audio to bounce off the bottom. For other cool DIY speaker tips, read this article from Cnet.com.

Need a break from self-improvement?

Maybe you want to use the time away from the screen to break free from work-related topics or self-development.  Maybe you’d like to laugh, listen to sports talk, or find out what’s in the news.

There’s a podcast for that, too.

If you’re new to podcasts or maybe don’t exactly know what’s out there, Concordia University-St. Paul created this really interesting infographic called the The Podcast ExplosionIt gives great insight as to the demographics of the listenership, how and why people listen, and what they’re listening to.

View the It’s a Podcast Explosion infographic from Concordia University St. Paul Online
Source: Concordia University- St. Paul

But the most important reason I listen to podcasts?

Mindset, pure and simple.

They remind me to embrace growth mindset versus perfection.

They remind me to use failure as a stepping stone.

They remind me that true success means sharing– that rising tides lift all boats.

They remind me that all success stories begin with that first courageous action.

They remind me that everyone is afraid–no one feels they always know what they’re doing.

They remind me that nothing is scarier than a lifetime of regret.

Your turn.

Would you like to try a podcast, but aren’t sure where to start?  I created a tab called Podcasts I Love with a list of my favorites.

If you’re already a podcast fan, what are some of your favorites?  Recommendations from colleagues are some of the best ways to learn about amazing new resources.