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Journaling Ideas for People Who Are Too Busy to Journal

You’d love to keep a journal because a) you want to check in with yourself and b) you need a place to explore, play and fiddle with ideas and c) you need to release and make sense of the thoughts and emotions swirling inside your brain and body. But the reality is that you’re busy. And the thought of writing three pages every morning, or even one page, totally wears you out.

But that doesn’t mean that journaling is off limits for you. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Below you’ll find a list of tiny ways to journal.

  • In the morning, at lunchtime and before bed, jot down how you’re feeling, and, if you know, why you’re feeling this way. Or do this once a day during whatever time is best for you.
  • Every day write down one person, place, object, idea that inspires you.
  • Right inside your planner or calendar, on whatever day it is, jot down one thing you’re thankful for, or one thing that stood out that day, or your current mood (i.e., energized, inspired, exhausted, anxious, upset, riled up).
  • Always keep a small notebook in your purse or pocket. Record random observations on your commute, at lunch, while waiting in line at the grocery store or doctor’s office. Challenge yourself to jot down at least one thing.
  • Answer a different question a day. Maybe you even want to give a  loved one your notebook to write down important or interesting or random or silly questions for you to ask yourself. Spend 5 minutes max on responding. What’s been on your mind lately? What’s your favorite thing to do right now? If you were an object, what object would you be? What’s your favorite part about life right now? What’s your favorite scent, taste, sound and sight right now? 
  • Try this creative index card system, which is similar to a 5-year journal. It includes writing down a highlight from each day on a separate index card.
  • At bedtime write down one thing you don’t want to forget.
  • At bedtime write down one need you have, and how you’ll meet this need now or the next day.
  • Use different colors to doodle your emotions. As I wrote in this piece, “Is your sadness blue or black or purple? What color is your fear? What color is your excitement? What hues are behind your anger? What about your shame?” This is a quick way to get to know our emotions, and understand their texture.

We don’t need to have many minutes in our days in order to journal. All we need is a few minutes here and there to check in with ourselves, to check in with our surroundings. It’s also helpful to think about how you spend your time. Because often there’s at least one activity or commitment we can say no to, one thing that we can delete from our to-do lists to make space for habits that matter to us—like journaling.

Where can you spare 5 minutes to check in with yourself on the page? What’s your favorite way to journal when you’re busy? 

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash.
Journaling Ideas for People Who Are Too Busy to Journal

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2017). Journaling Ideas for People Who Are Too Busy to Journal. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2018, from


Last updated: 16 Dec 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Dec 2017
Published on All rights reserved.