A simple tool to gain clarity and increase productivity

clarity

Does lack of time and stress get in the way of progressing at the rate you would like?

Getting the most important things done and growing as a leader is a challenge for many nonprofit leaders. It seems there’s not enough time in the day to accomplish anything other than what’s in front of you.

It turns out that there’s a surprisingly easy, fast, and free way to reduce stress, gain clarity and get focused.

Journaling – with a twist.

Maybe you’ve given it a try over the years. Then, it goes by the wayside. 

Why is that? Personally, I love journaling, yet I find myself dropping the ball,  probably when I need it most. It’s nuts. Every time I journal – yes, every time, I get a new idea or have clarity about something.

Journal

I recently listened to a podcast called Leadership Matters, a forum featuring innovative nonprofit leaders. John T. Price spoke about: Journaling: Why every leader should do and – and most don’t.

He gave me a new perspective.

Why most people don’t do it

Price explained that most people don’t do it (or stick to it) because they think they don’t have the time. Or when the time comes, they’re too tired. Worst of all, many fear they have nothing to write about.

In my experience, there’s nothing further than the truth. Maybe the problem is not wanting to find out what’s there. 

Connect the dots

Connect the dots

I noodle new ideas and solve for things I can’t wrap my head around. Then there’s anger, frustration, or sadness to be processed. A journal is the perfect place to flesh it out.

Turns out that there’s all kinds of stuff going on in that brain of mine that wasn’t there before. It was too scattered to emerge whole.

Thanks to John T. Price, I’m back on track.

Here’s how I do it

  • I sit down for 10-15 minutes in the morning and consider it part of my workday. I let it all in – many different roles become one. 
  • I use a notebook that I love – it makes writing special.
  • I may have a question to ask myself: what in the heck am I going to blog about today? Or, I’m really mad at XXX. Then I just write and let whatever comes come. It’s sloppy and can be disjointed at first. A good sign my mind is the same. 

Some days I don’t have anything specific on my mind  That’s the most important time to keep going. That seemingly empty space is where breakthroughs live. It’s kind of like when you’re at the therapist and the juicy stuff comes with 3 minutes to go.

I may start random “to do” lists in the margins, draw timelines or mindmaps if I need help making sense of something swirling around in my mind. Or not. 

It’s messy and that’s the point. So are our lives. Here’s an opportunity to sort it out.

Then, almost always, one thing leads to another, then another. All of a sudden there’s clarity.

Girl touching the water with ripple effect.

Privacy and Freedom

Journaling offers privacy and the ultimate freedom. It’s an adventure – you never know what will show up. Maybe you’ll have a childhood revelation, or discover next steps for something you have been stuck on for months or years.

Keeping a journal is a constant and clear way to remind yourself that YOU — and nobody else – are the author of your own life story.

Philosopher and psychologist William James once said, “If you can change your mind, you can change your life” — and journal-writing can help you do just that.

So go on. Buy a nice new notebook. Make it an event. Use it as a way to steward yourself. 

Do you keep a journal? Have you found that writing helps you de-stress? 

 

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