It is no surprise that successful and productive people keep journals or notebooks that capture ideas, inspirations, thoughts and daily reflections. Notable people such as Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison kept journals and notebooks to record their ideas, thoughts, observations and projects. The notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci are well known, containing notes and illustrations of nature, art, science and anatomy. Leonardo’s journals also capture many of his ideas and inventions, but also reflect the character of the person.
Journals allow you to capture ideas and gather information into one location. Ideas can easily come and go, and the only way to remember these ideas is to record them in a journal as soon as they come to mind. You can then review and work on these ideas at a later date.
I have been keeping journals for many years and have built excellent resources of information, knowledge and wisdom. My “Ideas Journal”, that I keep separately, contains ideas and thoughts that I have recorded since 1994, during the early days of my career. I also like to record notes, ideas and actions from the books I read and the seminars that I attend. Journals have the power to take you from where you are now to where you want to be.
The main type of journal that I use to capture inspirations, thoughts and information is an A4 artist’s visual diary consisting of thick white sheets of paper bound in double wire, with a hard black plastic front cover and thick cardboard back cover. I prefer to use blank white paper to allow the free-flow of ideas and information. You may want to use a leather-bound journal or just a small simple notebook. Each person will have their own preference.
I take the journal with me everywhere I go in case I have an inspirational thought or idea that I can record immediately. I keep the journal by my bedside when I sleep, I take the journal with me to work, I have it next to me when I am on the computer or reading a book, and I take it with me when I travel or attend seminars. When I completely fill a journal I number and label it, and then place it on my bookshelf.
What do I record in my journal?
- Ideas, thoughts and inspirations
- Interesting observations or experiences
- Goals, objectives and action plans
- Learning notes from reading books and attending seminars
- Business opportunities
- Names of contacts, leads and interesting people
- Feelings and impressions
- Achievements that I have accomplished
- Interesting words, quotations, internet sites, references and book lists
- Sketches, logos, brainstorms, mindmaps, inventions and dreams
- Research topics and outcomes
- Creative writing and poems
- Recipes and wine label details
- Travel experiences
Journals can also be used to manage projects and monitor progress of action plans. I usually use a separate “Project Journal” to focus on one specific project. For example, when I started to learn about the internet and web publishing I got myself a notebook and labelled it “Internet Journal”. In the journal I recorded my self-education notes and learning journey about the internet. I also recorded website examples, log-in details, potential domain names and other notes. Other examples of project journals include an inventor’s journal or notebook, a travel journal, and a visual journal containing sketches or photographs.
Journal writing can be used to record your life journey. It has the potential to develop your inner self and become a channel of discovery and learning. It can also be a means of self expression or emotional relief. Journaling can also be fun and inspirational by recording creative writing, capturing sketches, brainstorming, solving problems, setting goals, developing action plans or just simply thinking on paper. In the current digital economy which is dominated by the computer keyboard, monitor and mouse it can sometimes be reassuring to grab an old style fountain pen and a page in a journal consisting of thick white paper that encourages us to express our inner creative human spirit!
Periodically you will need to review the ideas and information you capture in your journal. The ideas and information can be quite valuable for further reflection and implementation. Who knows; one of your ideas might be the next “blockbuster” product, service or business opportunity!
I look forward to reading your thoughts on journaling.
Dr John Kapeleris