How I Journal for Mental Clarity (Very Easy)

How I Journal for Mental Clarity (Very Easy)


I’m going to keep this as concise and succinct as possible I really enjoy the idea of bullet journalling but I don’t enjoy how complicated and time consuming it can often end up becoming the idea of tracking habits and tracking patterns is really powerful but it needs to be simple, or else it becomes unsustainable and overwhelming with that being said I did create a video on how I keep a simplified bullet journal that many of you guys seemed to enjoy and since then I’ve further refined things and added and removed elements as I saw fit the method that I’m going to be sharing with you guys is built around this idea of trying to track emotional wellbeing and habits I feel like I need to see things clearly so that I can assess where I’m at in my life my thinking when approaching this topic and developing this for myself has been what exactly differentiates writing something down physically versus digitally that’s something that I encourage you to think about for yourself because we all operate differently the main differences that I can quantify are that typing or deleting things on my phone or on my computer is a lot faster so there’s a speed advantage, but precisely for that reason writing things down seems to carry more importance It’s kinda like I’m forcing myself to take an additional moment to think things through or consider them more deeply that’s another valuable thing to think about when developing your own organisational or journaling methods so with that being said. Here’s how I journal to stay on top of my life I would suggest sitting down somewhere comfortable uh with a hot drink, a playlist of songs that you enjoy listening to, while doing this That’s what I do, because this is ideal to do in the morning and let’s face it and sometimes it’s a bit difficult to get things going so the more inviting it is, I think the better. I’ll link to a spotify playlist if you’re looking for new material. So to give a brief overview, there are only three parts to my setup here The daily tracker, my weekly reviews and a monthly reset process I’ve gone ahead and gotten rid of anything else because I don’t want to bloat my journaling process here or make it any longer or more cumbersome than it needs to be That does include even my daily to-do list, which I know create and maintain on ‘Todoist’ And that’s a clear example, in my opinion of using the digital speed advantage to do certain things a lot more quickly So lets dive into things. Shall we. This is going to be really easy, I promise It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to set up, honestly. And I’m just going to explain my thinking behind everything Starting with the daily tracker, this is something I started doing a little over a year ago and this is such a powerful way to visually see consistency when it comes to habits Essentially what I’m doing here is at the beginning of each month I list off the days And then the habits that I feel are important and valuable for me to focus on And build, or maintain The cool thing about this is I do find that those habits evolve and change as time goes on, and I’m going to come back to that in a moment I do hand write this one out because I find that it is so much more satisfying to mark down whenever I’ve done habits physically rather than digitally checking something off. Every day or two, I update my progress. A couple of examples of habits I’ve been regularly trying to focus more time on are exercise, cold showers, meditation, time reading, that kind of thing It can be whatever you want! Now one of the interesting things that I think that this very quickly reveals is how unrealistic you can be with yourself. So for example, in the past I have set the goal of I don’t know, waking up at 5am or 6am And that’s just a really tough one for me to follow through on and do consistently. And it might not make sense, for me. It turns out that I am very creatively productive sometimes at night So it might not make complete sense for me to do that It’s way easier to, come to conclusions and assess things when I can see it all laid out before me More than just forcing yourself into being some sort of idealised version of yourself I think this is about, I think this is about being honest, and seeing who you are, and what you’re actually doing. And so, with all of the information that I’m gathering by doing this, I might adjust the habits that I want to focus on, next month. The other part of my daily tracker is a new addition that I recently made Inspired by one of my main objectives in 2020, which is to establish more stability in my life And one of the very specific examples that I gave was, more consistent sleep I know that this is going to be huge for me. And I also know that tracking things is probably the best way to better assess the whole situation. And begin to establish more stability So that’s what I’m doing here, I’m tracking when I officially turn off the lights And then in bed, ending the day. And when I officially get out of bed, and am starting the day. As you can see here, I am not very good at this. It’s a lot harder, than you would think when you don’t have an imposed external schedule like: going to school, or a stable job. I am certain, that many of the freelancers among you can relate to this. But again the point of this isn’t to beat yourself up, and try to suddenly be perfect. Currently I’m just assessing the situation and trying to bring as much curiosity to this as possible Almost as if I were doing a little experiment. And I’m a very visual person. So, this is helpful in getting a clearer picture on what I’m doing exactly I do think that I’ve seen some improvement since starting this From the simple fact that I’m taking a little more time to track it, and be mindful about this I just want to better understand things by seeing it. And I will add, that just the act of tracking things has helped improve the situation There is one really tricky piece to this puzzle that I haven’t quite found yet. I’d appreciate your suggestions if you have any. But I haven’t found a way to enjoy the productivity of mornings, and the creativity of evenings and nights, late nights It’s kind of like I have to pick one or the other It seems like the Spanish have come the closest of anybody with their siestas which let them, I guess, stay up later and wake up earlier, and they just sort of catch up a bit in the middle of the day But I have a hard time napping as a general rule, so….yeah. Would love to hear your thoughts. Part 2 is a weekly tracker which I use to review how the last week went. I find this a lot more useful than doing a daily review, which doesn’t feel like enough time to sort of assess things It’s easier for me to take things in week long chunks. The idea behind this is that I’m journaling , on my emotional well being Sure there is some level of attention placed on productivity, but not that much, it’s more than anything this is about how I’m doing emotionally, because at the end of the day, that ends up impacting everything These reviews are very important to me because it’s an opportunity to pause and reflect And get more perspective on where I’m at in life I don’t want to make giant blanket statements here but I think society does not place enough of an emphasis on pausing and reflecting on things It’s not exciting, it’s not sexy, but it’s so helpful in having clarity on how to move forward. And it’s also super easy to skip over, which is why I think it doesn’t happen more often. What this ends up looking like is sitting down for maybe 5 minutes, on a Sunday evening, or a Monday morning And thinking about how the week went in the general sense Doing these weekly check-ups or check-ins, helps to get a sense of trends which are taking place in your life Which if you think about it is super powerful because you can pick up on red-flags or where you’re veering off-course, early on. So for example, I have long suspected that I’m affected by weather And that in winter time the amount of darkness and I guess generally the lack of light, has an impact on me. I’ve noticed that it can be kind of difficult for me to get out of bed, and start the day And that might require certain solutions, like, light therapy or maybe I have a vitamin deficiency. But whatever the case, taking this time to kind of journal and actually think about it, is what brought this to my attention Finally, I do something similar at the end of each month. Often referring to the weekly reviews that I did And sort of taking them all together and thinking back on how things went overall So there’s one page for that, and then one page for laying out where I want to place my focus in the coming month. Some might call this goal setting, I think this is a little bit different because it’s not so outcome-oriented I’m making a huge effort on trying to just focus on systems and processes That is where the process starts over again. So that’s it man, very simple, and offers a lot of benefits, in my opinion. Especially when combined with a gratitude journal, or something along those lines. If I had to boil it down, this is about seeing emotional and habitual trends, that are taking place in my life. And I don’t spend more than ten minutes on any given day These are powerful insights to have, and there isn’t an app out there that I feel makes me reflect in the way that this journaling method does. Maybe I’m old fashioned – I don’t know – but that’s where I’m at I hope this helps. Are you maybe interested in more journaling or organisational inspiration, or ideas. May I suggest Skill Share, who are sponsoring this video. In all seriousness, I used Skill Share a few years ago, when I was going through an intense phase of learning film-making and photography And then I re-discovered it in the last year, for the content that it offers in other categories actually, like lifestyle and productivity It’s definitely a resource worth looking into in 2020. I like it more than YouTube in some cases because it’s clearly built and designed for people, interested in self-improvement. And YouTube can sometimes lead you down a rabbit-hole I just find the algorithms can be very aggressive and distracting. It’s just something to think about because it can be an easy trap to fall into. I definitely fall into that trap sometimes. You can click the link in the description to get a couple of months of Skill Share premium for free! To explore what they have to offer, your creativity, all that good stuff! It’s pretty sick, because having Skill Share Premium gives you full access to everything that they’ve got. For way less than the cost of in-person classes or workshops, I should add. An annual subscription is less than $10 a month I’d like to recommend this very comprehensive class on film-making. It touches on all (of) the important points And I really enjoyed the approach and exercises in this one. So consider checking it out. And thank you for watching! And I’ll see you soon!

100 thoughts on “How I Journal for Mental Clarity (Very Easy)

  1. Good video! As for your choice of productive mornings vs creative evenings, I have embraced a concept I learned from Casey Niestat in one of his videos last year. He took the hour or so at the end of his day and moved it to the front of his day. He says 'you can be selfish at 5am' meaning nobody is going to call/bother him so he can have long stretches of time when he is fresh to focus.

    5am is still too early for me as well. So I'm trying to set the habit of up at 6 and in bed by 10.

  2. I'm a life-long journal-er (lots older than you, buddy), but I have never considered a weekly review (either in my 'regular' personal one or my bullet journal) You've got me very intrigued with this and how you could see trends and how it added reflection to your life. For me that's what happened with Habit Tracking in my bullet journal and reviewing the trends at the end of the month–I learned some clear truths about myself. I think this habit you've found of the weekly/month reviews is very similar. I may have a new habit! Thanks for sharing. Like your content a lot.

  3. i think it was hemingway who said that u should only stop writing when u know what u r gonna write next… in this sense i would say write down ur ideas at night but do them in the morning hence u make the most of ur late night creativity and ur early productivity 😉

  4. You have a wonderful system and I have so much respect for your honesty. I am very similar in certain ways especially weather. Thank you

  5. it sounds like you definitely have night owl tendencies, as do i. there is a gross overvaluation atm of getting up at 5 am, this works great for some ppl but it WILL NOT WORK for most of the population. this is genetically determined based on your own body's hormonal/temperature fluctuations or chronotype and if you fight it, youre fighting a losing battle. since ppl like you and i have the freedom to make your own schedule, then by all means do it and to hell w the morning nonsense! work w your own energy peaks, that is how to get the most out of your day and your life. if you wanna read more about this, check out 'the power of when' by dr breus, amazing book, changed my life…and/or take the quiz to see which chronotype you are, hope this helps 🙂 love your channel!

  6. I stopped the video shortly after you said you made a Spotify playlist to go along with your journaling. Checked it out and the first song I saw was "Good News" by Mac Miller. I already trust your music taste. But the wound is still fresh for me. Still excited to sit down and give this playlist a listen.

    alright now, back to the video.

  7. Thank you. I told about this "Journal for Mental Clarity" to my therapist and She suggested me to follow your instruction and now the "your" journal is part of my therapy. Thank you for your suggestion!

  8. I micro nap after lunch helps me be relaxed at night and go to bed earlier, I set the timer for 20 min but I usually wake up right after I fell sleep (5 min) and I feel rested as if it were 3 h,

  9. Dude! Are you in Spain? I would like a lot to meet you because you have been an inspiration for me here in youtube. Let´s talk with a cup of coffe, I pay! 😄

  10. This is nice, I like it. Makes me want to really put more emphasis and effort into journaling, based on this, while also finding and tailoring my own best method for journaling. Putting some fun and creativity into it, this ain't a right or wrong school assignment. While still having the main purpose of it to improve and track myself, and whatever else I might find or want to combine into that. Cheers 👍

  11. As a catalan I can say that the "siesta" is one of the best things in the world!!!! hahahha Keep on with this BJournal videos Nathan I love it!

  12. I just started my journal thanks to your videos, it's kind of hard to get used to it but it actually helps me to reflect more in what i'm doing, it feels like it helps me to be present in my own life instead of letting days pass by without notice what happens. It has also helped me to be a little bit more consistent in healthy hobbies and go back to writing, which i stopped doing for a long time. Your videos are truly inspiring and helpful, thank you!

  13. It seems to me that you lack of ideas. Try to rearrange yourself. You are definitely an interesting person and I want to continue seeing your personal development.

  14. I also believe I’m changed by the weather.
    My idealistic view of myself adores journals, but my authentic self.. doesn’t.

    Thank you for this practical journal help! So glad I found your channel.

  15. Stupid question, but from where is your hand watch?
    And greate video, I am interested in bullet journal for a while, but all the setup is really making me not to want to start with it. how to know how many blank pages to leave and all that planing ahead in the beginning of the process.
    This video makes things much simpler.

  16. I am using a very similar method like yours! And it was funny to see it in a video now. I really love todoist to execute my tasks.

    I have a question, in this setup, how do you organize your projects? When you need to add content and details?

  17. I had a typical put-everything-in-it bullet journal for a few years and last year I started to transition over into a similar half and half journal method, I digitize my todos, use the daylio app to quickly track my mood & what affects it — while I reflect & track habits in my "bullet journal" if it can even be called that anymore haha

  18. When I write physically, I get to reflect back on what I did today or the day before. When I write digitally, I have the ability to delete my to do list, but I completely forget what I just did.

    Writing something down physically is a mindful practice that can really shape someone’s day.

  19. Hi Nathaniel, I wanted to thank you for inspiring me! Your way of mixing these seemingly random images into a story to make it look nicer but also to support what you are saying in a more intuitive way 🙌 I love that idea and so I stole it 😂🤭 And I love what it has done for my latest video,which is pretty serious and I had to deal with some ugly recording, and it made the whole slot more beautiful 😊 So thanks! And how you talk about your life's journey. Yep, a thank you is at its place here 🎁

  20. Hello thankyou for your videos they help to remind me of positive practices and introduce me to new ones with the tools to boot. I have in the last while discovered that for me personally getting up really early (after having a really good amount of sleep) and carry on until very late at night I can, with enough discipline, have the best of both worlds the early mornings, for productivity or practically and late evenings for creativity if and when it strikes. The next day I use for recuperation, sleep mostly or relaxing and resetting for the next day&early start. So basically one day off and one day on. I'm still experimenting with it and also will be needing to be more disciplined with it going forward to get the best out of it&me. I am just writing to you about it as it is an experiment I'm working with on myself as you talk about such experiment with ourselves personally. I also have the reason I have or am shifting to this system or technique for want of a better word is that I have been struggling with my health so it is not a suggestion for you to try it, although it might be a cool temporary experiment, it maybe not so practical for you I don't know. It's just something I'm trying that I think might work. A hard work day practically in the early hours, a break or breaks then creativity or other things that strike in the late hours. One (long productive day to be up with or before dawn but also to carry on onto the night time brings) and one day off to recoupe&reset for the next early start. One day on&one day off. I should've just said that at the beginning and saved us a lot of time. Soz! And thanks again. Just re-read the comment and realised I did just say that at least a couple of times, please forgive me i'm a novice!

  21. Hi again, just to say a blackout blind that you can probably get on line cheaply and that has suckers on it can be handy when working/living in shifts or in general dyurnal nocturnal living, say if you'd like a lie in. The one I use has suckers that once wet stick to the window easy to take on&off leaving no marks on window and folds up really small just like any material. Just thought that could be useful in general if you don't have one already not just for my experiment but anytime or when travelling, an hour or two extra sleep can make big a big difference to your day and how you feel as I'm sure you know. When I was a musician the way I dealt with the weather was the winter months I would sleep, work and practise music sort of hybernating so that when spring&summer came along I'd be re-energised,well practised and ready for all that lovely sunshine, longer daylight hours and music festivals, hopefully being well practised. Sorry for the long comment thing again&if you knew this already. Bedtime.

  22. This is really helpful. I always felt difficult to write about following my new habits everyday. Your method is easier and also less complicated for beginners in journaling.

  23. I think it might be interesting/help to do experiments with sleep. First going to bed early and waking up early for a month and then going to bed late and waking up late for another month (or just 14 days, it might work too, I am not sure). I did not do this myself yet, but I plan on and I am going to track my mood, productivity and some other things to be able to asses which schedule works for me. The point is that everyone's circadian rhytm is different, so I think it is best for general wellbeing and wealth to find out what is yours. It does not really solve the problem you set up, but I just think that optimalizing sleep and finding the best schedule that offers the best sleep possible is a good way to go. The productivity of mornings or creativity might follow. 🙂

  24. I feel the recent interest in waking up early was really born from those who have a 9-5 job but wanted to still carve out time for themselves. I’d say that if one has the luxury of not having a conventional schedule, to take some of the pressure off themselves to wake up early, and just settle into a productive routine that suits your natural rhythms. If you’re more creative at night? Lean into it, and let yourself sleep in a bit without the self-judgement.

  25. When people describe bullet journaling as complicated I always shake my head. It's a versatile system to use however you'd like, which of course you then prove by making a bullet journal video – again, smh.

  26. Honestly his playlist is sooo good I recommend everybody to listen to it. It puts you in such a chill vibe or coffee mood whatever u wanna call its that great

  27. This is so timely and insightful. I've always been intrigued by bullet journaling. But every time I watch a video of someone "journaling", it seems like it takes up so much time just setting up the journal. That may be an artistic release or meditative-type activity for them but certainly not for me. Thanks for the video, I think I will certainly give it a try with your ideas in mind of using it for reflective self-progress and change.

  28. THANK YOU! I have the same troubles with bullet journaling and organizing my life, so this was a very helpful video. My feeling about mornings vs. late nights: I wouldn’t force yourself into a pattern. You sleep when you need it. If you really feel inspired one night, stay up. If you really feel that you need to get up early the next morning after that, try to push yourself a little to get up by promising yourself a nap or some chill time later. I think it’s easier to push through the grogginess when I know I’ll have some downtime. If I know I have a lot to do that day, staying up and forcing myself out of bed will just make me anxious and give me insomnia.

  29. Actually at 2pm your body is at its natural lower point of energy. So the siesta is not only lazy people and a culture thing (Wich sometine it is). It is actually your body needing some rest.

    Here in Argentina we have a siesta culture as well but not everyone does. Sleeping is viewed as lasyness for some. I must say though that our day starts at 7 am. Breakfast can be at 7 to 10 am. Then lunch at 12 to 2pm. (Siesta happens between 2 to 5 for most) and at 5 to 6-7 we have the merienda, Wich is like a breakfast,usually with mate. Some people skips this or just have a snack and we have dinner at 9 to 11pm.

    So the siesta is amazing as we all know sleep benefits but your entire day should have an earlier wake up and a later bed time.

    I Also suggest researching on types of nap. Power napping is great when done right. If you nap incorrectly you wake up feeling groogy and tired.

    Hope that helps some of you. Have a good one

  30. Nathaniel, consider waking up earlier (say 5am) and doing your creative stuff in the morning. Getting to bed earlier will help you with this.

    Having been to Spain myself, I realise this could be difficult because Spain is very lively in the evenings!

  31. I've used Steve Pavlina's multiphasic sleep methods for trying to get the benefits of early morning productivity and late-night creativity but after a while, I got into feeling less and less structured and grounded in my daily life. Going to sleep when I felt tired was not always at the same time each day, so I needed to keep rearranging my schedule for too many things and this contributed to lessening structure, which I find I need for my general wellbeing. For now, I go for creative nights more than I do for productive mornings.

  32. As an addition to these ideas I suggest this minimal, simple, & effective Bullet Journal method. Sadia is a wonderful human being. And the method is beautiful and less overwhelming, actually just clear and simple. Check it and give it a try if you like, I certainly will.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK5VUuxGYr0

  33. I love journalling but my family would be reading it later….so I feel voilated. I'm using a writing tablet to write and erase

  34. I have questions about the sleep graph: What do the numbers on the left and bottom mean? I'm sorry, I just am struggling to understand the design.

  35. Wait, is this Matt D’Avella’s mini me? I get taking inspiration, but the the same format, videography and topics? Someone doesn’t know thyself

  36. For me the magic happens with a 20 minute nap, no more, no less. Not every day, only if I need it. If I nap longer I get groggy for the rest of the day.

  37. This is amazing. Thanks for the idea and I really love the format. I just made my habit tracker because of this video and am really excited about it. Your videos are amazing and really inspire growth. Thank you for your content!

  38. Listen to your body is the advice i can think of. To try to be aware when it signals to when to eat and when to rest and when to work. INTUITION is the key for me. And maybe you only are productive in one part of the day, that's a lot still.. I'm peruvian and we also siesta over here <3

  39. Hearing that you struggle with waking up is almost reassuring to hear. I am 18 and have to get up for college for a couple days a week but I find myself struggling to set my sleep in place on my days off. I have found that giving yourself a time to sleep and then turn off anything stimulated around an hour or an hour and a half beforehand just to allow your brain to relax and prepared to sleep. I usually come off my computer and have a shower then try and read a bit before doing some stretching or something. It really helps separate my nights from my evenings and it feels that the shower helps divide the two

  40. everything was going SO well till 3:58 hit me & my brain broke for a couple of seconds bc i was listening very intently to you speak English, yet i couldn't help being distracted by what you'd written in my native language lol

    btw your videos are always super helpful, grazie mille! 🙂

  41. It's really act of journaling itself that really yields fruits in people's lives. So, I find whatever way people need to do it is usually right. If you find a method that works for you definitely keep building on it.

  42. I enjoy your videos so much! You are very brave! And I’m that aspect I’m very inspired by you! I respect that you are doing something that is for the greater good! Please continue! I wish you peace!

  43. About the feeling of having to pick either the evening creativity or the morning productivity:
    What helps me is a steady schedule. My evening creativity phase starts after having dinner. I try to eat early, which is at around eight for me. After that, I have about two or three hours of "evening creativity time", but it's important to me, to not strech that phase for too long, in order to wake up rested and at a reasonable time. After that, I can make use of the morning after as well.

    So in essence:
    1) Have an evening routine and start your evening early.
    2) Go to bed at a reasonable time. Rest well 🙂

  44. duuuuude. TOTALLY resonate with not being able to attain the productivity of the early morning, and the creativity of the late night, in the same day. both feel amazing but it's always seemed to me that trying to do both doesn't work for sleep. thanks for sharing!

  45. I have been thinking about journaling for the last 2 months but can't really get myself to do it. it is not procrastination but something else. Can you give me some tips on how to get myself to just start writing?

  46. If you find it hard to wake up in the morning with it being darker in the winter, why not have later productive nights in the winter and darker months and early productive mornings in the summer and lighter months? Not sure if it’s feasible for you, just an idea.

  47. I feel like these videos are really great and really great to watch, but he is always serious needs too remember that you need to have a little more fun in life not everything needs to be about self development

  48. you hit my predicament on the head when you mentioned weighing the morning’s productivity and the nighttime’s creativity. the answer may be in your video about di vinci’s routine

  49. "La siesta".. -well Iam from germany and I live in spain since a couple of years. My personal expirience with that is, when its summertime with its high temperatures and it doesnt cool of even through the nighthours (means less, or at least not a recovering sleep to me) its kind of necessary to keep up with some rest during the daytime -also you wont be very productive, when there are like 40 degrees during the afternoon -means "siesta-time". So maybe switching the sleepingpattern completely is something I will try this year, because after siestas I always feel quite "damaged". Basically I prefer to rest, or even a quick nap, but not longer than 20 minutes, half an hour or so.

  50. Lately, I've been attempting to wake up around 6:30 or 7 every day, and before I do anything productive I play video games for the first 1-2 hours of my day. I've shared a similar struggle to getting a sleep schedule when it's not strictly necessary but I've found that waking up with warm clothes, a cup of coffee, and a new video game ready to be played really helps me get my day going. I'd highly suggest doing something you really enjoy that isn't necessarily productive for the first hour or so of your day because it honestly puts you in such a good mood throughout the rest of your day. I've often found that I beat myself up for not being productive, but if I slow down and am more careful about when I take time to let my mind relax, I find that I'm able to be much much more efficiently productive when it actually is time to work. I'd love to hear your thoughts. <3

  51. I started watching your videos when I came across a tough time in my life. I was full of mental fog and I lacked clarity and direction. I truly appreciate the content you put out, and I just wanted to remind you that it makes a huge difference for some of us. Time's are still tough but journaling, meditating, and habit tracking alone have made me feel multitudes better than before.

    One question, what does "Philosophy" represent in your habit tracker?

  52. This was an awesome video and I will definitely try this type of habit/emotion tracker since it’s actually something I’ve been trying to figure out recently myself.

    Thanks for the insight and great idea!

  53. I use Meditation in around mid-day to recreate the benefits of "siesta". I also am not a fan of using naps as a way to recharge because they usually leave me groggy. I know most people use Meditation in the morning to get themselves going or before bed to get wind down. For me, it has been most effective to use mid-day to give me a second kick.

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