7 Benefits of Journaling for Focus and Productivity (As Told by Science)

By Alex Harris January 02, 2021

7 Benefits of Journaling for Focus and Productivity (As Told by Science)

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It’s no secret that I’m a massive proponent of journaling. 

In my latestGrowth Playbook, I suggest it for positive self-dialogue, goal planning, and as a conduit to uncover what’s really holding you back in your personal or professional life. 

But journaling is much more than a growth and development tool — actively journaling on a routine basis can help boost your focus, improve productivity, and serve as a constant reminder of your improvement. 


Don’t believe me? 

Take a look at these seven scientifically-proven benefits of journaling for focus and productivity.

1. Improve Brain Function

I’m no rocket scientist, but I can attest to the power of journaling for improved brain function. Simply putting a pen to paper for 10 to 15 minutes in the morning or before bed can help keep your brain in tip-top shape. In fact, journaling canboost cognitive processing and working memory capacity, meaning you’ll have fewer “Oh crap...” moments and more “Hell yeah!” moments. 

Think of it this way: At night or in the morning, most of us fall victim to the dreadeddoom scroll. We spend minutes to hours of our day with glossy eyes, pouring over what other people accomplished in the last 24 hours instead of focusing on our own goals and responsibilities. In comparison, replacing just 15 minutes of the usual doom scroll with jotting down the day’s thoughts and accomplishments forces our brains to re-process our wins, losses, and learning lessons. 

Writing about emotionally-charged topics, like goals and fears, can even change the way we interact with others and speak about ourselves. Research suggests these more personal journaling habits can alter our typicalsocial and linguistic behavior. 


2. Boost Emotional Well-Being

To reach a point at which you’re happy with yourself, both personally and professionally, you must be just as healthy emotionally as you are physically. The reasoning is simple; just like physical ailments like a bad back or chronic headaches can prevent you from living to your fullest potential, sour emotions can cloud your judgment and stagnate your growth.

Fortunately, journaling can help with overall emotional well-being. Not only is a journal an outlet for emotional catharsis but it can also help your brainregulate emotion—seemingly unintentionally. Whether you’re jotting ideas in a diary, writing a mid-day slump haiku, or creating a master to-do list, writing can help keep your emotions under control and keep your mind clear for productivity. 

Similarly, a journal is an outlet for processing emotions, both good and bad, in a way that increases your self-awareness. This will help develop empathy skills as well as increase overallemotional intelligence to allow for a deeper connection with clients, bosses, and loved ones. 

3. Increase Self-Efficacy

Imposter Syndrome.Two words that none of us want to deal with, but face on a regular basis. 

Fight back with the power of mindful journaling. 

Researchers at theJournal for Scholarly Teaching revealed that journaling, regardless of the nature of the journal, can positively impact self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is your belief in your ability to succeed in a given situation, such as starting the business you’ve always dreamed or taking a leap of faith into a new career.

The more you write, the more you can grow confidence in yourself and your abilities. The more confident you become, the easier it is to ignore the whispers of doubt in the back of your mind. 

Before you know it, you can replace blaring thoughts ofimposter syndrome with positive self-dialogue that can keep you focused on your goals at hand. With a newfound belief in yourself and your abilities, the more you can increase your daily output and improve your general productivity. 


4. Reduce Stress and Quiet Your Mind

Rough day?Journal.

Feeling scatterbrained?Journal.

Can’t seem to find the motivation or focus to work?Journal. 

For anyone like myself who struggles to stay focused on just one task at a time, journaling can help quiet your mind and reduce any mental chaos. Plus, journaling can act as a helpful stress management tool.

Research shows that writing about stressful events helps youcome to terms with them, helping reduce the impact these stressors can have on your physical and emotional wellbeing. Writing about your stressors can even decreaseyour cortisol levels, the hormone that turns on your fight-or-flight reaction and contributes to feelings of anxiety and panic. 

The next time stress is halting your productivity, write it out. 


5. Unleash Creativity 

Okay, so journaling won’t turn you into the next Salvador Dalí. But, it can help unlock the creative or “right-side” of your brain. 

Bear with me on this one — some of the most famous creatives and innovators of our generation havekept journals. I’m talking about household names like Andy Warhol, Leonardo Da Vinci, Maya Angelou, Charles Darwin, and even Sir Isaac Newton (do you think he journaled about the laws of gravity?). 

As you journal, theprocess of writing triggers the left hemisphere of your brain, which is analytical and rational. This preoccupies the left-side of your brain and frees the right hemisphere — the creative and artistic side — to do what it does best. That means that while you remove mental blocks and uncertainty, you also open the flood gates of creative brainpower to focus on the task at hand.


6. Hone in On What’s Important 

Sometimes it feels like you can’t complete your goals due to a lack of time or failure to focus. Journaling allows you to hone in on what’s important. In fact, research shows that simply committing goals to writing can improve your chances of achieving them by a whopping42 percent

Intentional journaling can also reveal what’s standing in the way of your goals. In my free Growth Playbook, I detail how I use journaling toidentify what’s holding me back in life. Through daily goal setting and nightly reflections, I can visually see which areas of my professional and personal life I’m failing to make headway. 

If I can’t seem to cross a certain item off of my list, that shows me that I’m either:

  1. Not applying the focus I need to complete the goal, or 
  2. Not setting realistic goals for myself.

Reviewing my journal entries allows me to locate and eliminate any roadblocks in my way. Plus, it’s an incredibly satisfying feeling to review previous entries and see how far I’ve come — motivation that amplifies my focus and productivity. 


7. Create Healthy Habits

If I can hook you with one last thing, I hope it’s this: the benefits of journaling arelong-term. As journaling habits are developed, the process of writing — and all the benefits that come along with it — become routine.

Why is this important? From feeding your brain metaphorical protein to improving your emotional quotient, the simple practice of writing each day can solidify healthy habits you can apply to your general productivity. 


How Will You Use Journaling to Your Advantage?

Journaling is a priceless tool I would recommend to everyone, no matter what stage of life you’re in. Daily journaling can supercharge your brain and unleash inner creativity for the focus, drive, and improved productivity you’ve been waiting for.

I’ll leave you with just one question:How will you use journaling to your advantage? 

Let me know in the comments below.

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