Making time for journal writing

Friday, June 16, 2017
by Abigail Tait

Journal writing is one of those things that everyone seems to start, but can never maintain. Life gets in the way and we are often too busy to sit down at the end of the day and dedicate time to self-reflection.  

From experience, I know how hard it is to maintain a journal. Repeatedly, I would start a journal and end up forgetting about it two weeks later. I figured that it was an empty hobby; a hobby that would take up time but not really add any purpose to my day. It wasn’t until I began setting a routine for myself that ‘forced’ me to sit down and write in my journal. It didn’t have to be important or exciting, I just had to write about something. My goal was to put something on paper. Naturally, it turned into a reflection about my thoughts and feelings that day. It turned into self-reflection without my realization.

A month ago I decided that I wanted to sit down twice a week and journal. I set no time restraints and no page limit. I just had to write. Once I began writing, it flowed onto the paper with ease. I was able to take everything in my head and put it onto paper. For the first time, it became natural for me to ‘unleash’ my thoughts onto paper with no expectations or pressure. Some of my journal entries were half a page, some were two full pages and some were three sentences. Due to my job, I often found myself reflecting on the students I worked with. If I had a really great session where the student and I were collaborating, laughing and brainstorming, I would write about it. If I had a session where the student was unwilling to learn or I was frustrated, I would write about it. As I wrote, it would turn into what I learned during the session, what I did right or wrong in hindsight and why I think it went the way it did. I began to self-reflect on myself as a tutor and a writer.

Now you might be thinking, ‘who cares? You write in a journal about your day’. That was my belief, as I didn’t see the true value in journal writing or self-reflection. I thought it was something deep, thoughtful people did before bed, sitting in their window and drinking tea. Little did I know how valuable my own self-reflections, just sitting at my desk, would be. Being able to sit down and take the time for myself to think about my day was actually enjoyable.  I loved turning to a clean, crisp page and seeing the cursive letters glide onto the paper. The hardest part was to sit down and get started; but once the pen hit the page, the words came to me. I was able to be by myself and if I was lucky, write about how happy a student made me when they appreciated my help.

I have learned that self-reflection isn’t just important for myself, but in my professional and academic life. Students and employees who engage in continuous self-reflection will learn more, be able to harness their skills more effectively and mitigate their weaknesses. It is important for employees to be able to reflect on their experiences, failures, opportunities and other aspects of their professional life. When employees can assess their strengths and weaknesses, they are able to see their limitations and work around them, possibly even improve them. A workplace with employees that engage in self-reflection will be more likely to witness individual learning and improvement. Especially when life gets stressful and hectic, taking time for ourselves is even more important. Journal writing is an excellent opportunity for that ‘you-time’ and for gaining a better sense of what you’re learning and thinking about on a daily basis.