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Why Keep a Journal

Are you thinking of starting a journal, but aren't sure if you would benefit from the time spent? People keep journals and diaries for many reasons. Yes, you need to set aside some time for making entries, but overall, most find that it's time well spent.

You may decide to use an elegant blank book, or a cheap spiral notebook, or dedicated journaling software, or simply a text file on your computer. The process and benefits are basically the same in any format.

pile of blank journals


Some people keep journals for self-discovery. It's a great way to know and understand yourself. Writing down your thoughts helps you view your feelings, ideas, and reactions more objectively. It helps make sense of a situation or how you reacted, physically or emotionally.

In this case, journals provide a place for a brain dump of whatever's on your mind. Sometimes you just need to get your thoughts down to process them. Stream-of-conscious writing can help work through a problem or get concerns off your mind.

Writing about an issue can help you clear your head, relax, and reduce stress.


You might keep a diary to record events and thoughts for the future. Browsing your own journals from decades earlier can be enlightening and self-affirming. Recording your life's events can help you remember details.

Believe me. You think you'll never forget the details of some situation, but you eventually will. If it's important, record it. The memory may be clear and strong now but may not be later. Memory is warped by time.

Many times, I've searched my old journals for something specific and found that I didn't record as much as I wish I had. I assumed I'd remember who someone was or what some other event was that I referred to. You'll appreciate more accuracy later.

Goals and Progress

Some people use journals to track their goals and their progress towards them. Record long-term goals and the short-term plans you have to reach them. This is handy for later review.

Note your successes. Reviewing successes later, perhaps when progress isn't going as well, reassures you of what you're capable of and helps motivation. If you use software that allows tagging entries, tag these entries for "motivation" or "success" so you can easily locate them when you need a boost later.

Also track lessons learned, setbacks, and failures. By writing down what you learn, you reinforce the lesson and help avoid similar mistakes later.


Many writers keep journals. They're great for exercising your creativity and writing skills. As with any other skill, practice builds up your creative muscle. Here, you don't need to worry that anyone else will ever read your scribblings. You can abandon editing and let your writing flow. Explore new techniques and topics. Safely and privately write about personal topics that you may never publish publicly.

Besides the writing practice, journals can be a useful place to collect ideas and snippets for projects you haven't started yet.

All of the Above

Of course, you don't have to limit yourself only one of these purposes. You can use one journal to explore, record, track, and create. There are no rules.

I've kept journals in various forms since I was a teenager. Through the years, I sometimes let my journaling slide for years when I was unusually busy. And always, whenever I let it slide, I regretted it. Years later, I wished I had more records of that time period, of my thoughts, activities, goals, and decisions... of where I was on my journey.

If you decide to keep a journal and want to use a software option, consider trying Personal Knowbase for Journaling.