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When You Don’t Have the Time or Energy to Journal

We know that journaling is a powerful way to reconnect to ourselves. It’s a powerful way to explore and better understand our innermost yearnings and emotions. It’s a powerful way to make sense of the (occasional) mess inside our minds.

But sometimes, we’re too tired to journal. We’re too tired to think in sentences or even phrases. We’re too weary to write. Sometimes, we don’t have the energy to explore our emotions—to go to the place we need to go. Maybe we’re emotionally fried or maybe we’ve simply had a long, full week.

Either way, just the thought of journaling makes us cringe or roll our eyes. It feels like another task on our already endless to-do list, which is a shame because journaling is supposed to serve as a supportive tool. Journaling can be a meaningful part of our self-care practice.

When you feel too tired or too weary or simply spent, it’s super helpful to have a checklist you turn to. A checklist doesn’t require much effort, but it’s still a valuable tool for self-reflection. It’s still a valuable look at how you’re feeling and doing. It’s an especially valuable tool for spotting patterns.

In the thoughtful journal, Instant Journal: Chart Your Life One Week at a Time, artist Mia Nolting features a checklist every week for readers to complete, along with pie charts, quarterly surveys and other illuminating prompts. (See the image for an example.)

For instance, for the weekly checklist, on the left-hand side, there’s a sentence or phrase; on the right, there are circles to color in for the seven days of the week.

Nolting includes these sentences and phrases in her checklist: I thought about my breath; I’m longing for something; I’m restless; I bought something I don’t need; I’m afraid of the future; Ordinary day; I’m worried for no reason; I feel loved.

So if you did think about your breath on Saturday, you’d color in that circle.

You can create your own weekly checklist with your own sentences and phrases. Maybe there’s something in particular you’d like to track on a weekly basis, such as how often you feel sad or anxious; how often you worry; how often you say something you regret; how often you complain; how much time you spend outside; how frequently you’ve laughed or cried; whether you felt insecure or indecisive; whether you responded to your needs that day; whether you rested; whether you spent more than an hour on social media; whether you’re excited about tomorrow.

All of this is important information. It provides a glimpse into your experience of your world—and it’s something you can do rather quickly, whether or not you have the energy.

In fact, you can make it part of your evening routine. And you can review your findings at the end of the month or every quarter. You can use your checklists as valuable insights to fuel changes that will nourish you and create more satisfying, meaningful, supportive days.

All of that simply starts with about five minutes a day.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

When You Don’t Have the Time or Energy to Journal

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Margarita is an associate editor at She writes about everything from taking compassionate care of yourself at any weight, shape, and size, to coping healthfully with difficult emotions. Her goal is to give readers practical, empowering tips to better their lives, and to remind you that whatever you're struggling with, you're never, ever alone.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2018). When You Don’t Have the Time or Energy to Journal. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 15 Oct 2018
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