Journaling Styles & Techniques to Organize Your Life

Table of Contents

When most people think of journaling, they think of a diary a chronological recording of events that have happened.

A diary is only one type of journal using one technique of journaling. There are really many different types of journals and many different techniques for journaling. Each different journal type and journaling technique has different benefits and are used for different purposes.

When starting to incorporate journaling into your life it is important to realize both the benefits of the act of journaling itself as well as the benefits of using the information recorded at a later date. By choosing techniques that may take a little more effort initially, the benefit in the future could be a hundred-fold.

Different types of Journaling Techniques

Brain Dump

A brain dump is a journaling technique where you pick a subject or a question and you write everything that comes into your mind as quickly as you can. There is no editing or evaluating what you are writing.

What you write may or may not be relevant to the question and it may or may not be true. You may not even believe what you write. The idea is to get all of that information out of your head and into your journal. When it is in your head, you tend to go in circles with the information, once it is on paper it is out of your head.

What is a brain dump good for?

The brain dump is good for dealing with issues. It gets all the thoughts out of your head and into your journal. You can then review what is written and determine what is relevant and what is throw away.

The brain dump is good for brainstorming ideas. Once you start getting ideas down, your brain makes connections with other ideas. It can be a very creative process.

The brain dump allows you to take a deep dive about how you feel or think about a subject. Related ideas in your brain will get triggered by other ideas resulting in a deeper understanding of the topic.

The brain dump is good for relieving worrying. In some cases when you worry your brain is going in circles. If you get all your fears and related reflections onto paper, oftentimes what you were worrying about doesn’t seem as bad.


The diary technique is the most common form of journaling. Life events are recorded in a journal along with the date that they happened. The journal forms a history of your life.

What is the diary technique good for?

The diary technique can be used to record the tasks and achievements you do at work. The end result is a timesheet or status report.

The diary technique can be used to record major career achievements. The document achievements can then be used for your resume or in preparation for interviews.

The diary technique can be used to create your own biography. It is an excellent resource to pass on to your children.

The diary technique can be used to document your progress towards mastering skills and habits.


Another common use of journals is to record thoughts, ideas, interpretation of events, personal philosophy, or personal wisdom. The reflections can also be of different events in one’s life, or the reflections can be based on a set of questions that are asked over a period of time. There are many different ways you can find topics to reflect on.

What is the reflection technique good for?

The reflection technique gives you a written copy of the reflections you have had.

The reflection technique can be used to document other people’s ideas that you find important.

The reflection technique can be used to document different topics that you are learning.

The reflection technique can be used to document what you learn from a book.


Learning skills, attaining goals, instilling habits all benefit from tracking different metrics to show progress. The simple act of recording metrics gives you the motivation to keep going. This is the basis of gamification we see in many apps. Streaks, badges, achievements are all forms of gamification.

Skills have a tendency to devalue over time, they have a half-life so to speak. Think of skills like Java that were once a hot skill and now is becoming less valuable.  Thinking back even further, skills like blacksmithing are no longer needed at all. Journaling skills gives you one place where you can see skills and see which should be added or enhanced.

What is a tracking journal good for?

A tracking journal is useful for keeping track of the food we eat in order to understand our diet.

A tracking journal is useful for tracking our weight to see how our diet is going.

A tracking journal is useful for tracking activities such as running, swimming, treadmill to see our progress.

A tracking journal is useful for recording metrics against skills and habits we are trying to obtain.

Visual Journaling / Doodling

I am specifying visual journaling/doodling as a separate journaling technique but in reality, it can be used in conjunction with any of the technique/journal types. Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words.

What a visual journaling/doodling is good for?

A visual journal/doodle is good to ad clarity to ideas where a picture is more effective than words.

A visual journal. doodle can help organize your ideas – think bullet journal.

A visual journal/doodle is helpful in expressing ideas that are visual, like house plans, visual designs, directions etcetera.

Journaling with your non-dominant hand

Writing with your non-dominant hand you connect with the intuitive part of your brain. The result is you may get more insights about an issue or problem you are trying to solve. You may get a more creative answer to a question you are posing to yourself.

What a visual journaling/doodling is good for?

Non-dominant writing helps to solve issues where you feel stuck

Non-dominant writing helps you uncover the source of feelings and emotions

Non-dominant writing helps you have more creativity

JournaledLife Conversation

I invite you to join the conversation about these ideas. Together let’s add clarity and insight.

What is your favorite way to journal?

What journaling technique is most effective for you?

Do different journaling techniques help you with your life design?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *