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The simple productive method to start journaling

Updated: Sep 24, 2021

Hey friends, we are all going through our many journeys in life filled with our many obstacles that we deal with on a day-to-day basis. I am sure that there are others out there who have wondered how we can add some form of organisation to our daily routine. As a baseline, this journal method was largely inspired by the productivity YouTube guru Ali Abdaal.

Here are some brief but key benefits to journaling

  • Achieve goals more effectively

  • Emotional wellness by expressing your daily thoughts

  • Life/ goal organisation

  • Gratitude for even the smallest of things

As an introduction, I have been using this method since the 18th August 2020, although it has since evolved, the layout remains the same. The way in which Ali discusses his journal method is very similar but I have deviated in areas to make it cater to everyday activities. The layout can be found below:

The simple layout

Highlight: , Date: 02/02/2021


Let go of:

To Achieve at home







Water: x x x


Highlight: This should be the first word written at the top of the page. Ali uses his highlight to identify an essential task that you absolutely cannot avoid doing. I, however, use this method for the actual highlight of the day. This may be going for a walk, seeing your family or even eating a packet of biscuits.

When flipping back through the filled pages in the future, your eyes will naturally look to the highlighted event, this may even make you smile as you remember that you visited your gran on the 24th December 2020.

Grateful: Stating something that you are grateful for first thing in the morning (or afternoon) will create a warm sense of energy to the start of your day. For example, you may be grateful for your partner during lockdown or grateful for the one biscuit you saved for yourself from the prior day.

This is equally the most important statement of the day as it will make you look deep inside of yourself to find something that you are truly grateful for. This will be something that you never would have considered and will grant you the ability to appreciate the smaller things in life. Upon writing this, I am grateful for the ability to type.

Let go of: Similar to grateful, this should be written first thing in the morning (or afternoon). It will give you a head start to the day by questioning the one thing that you want to get rid of. For example, you may write - not spending enough time on yourself or eating too many biscuits (as I do).

This section will highlight any habits that you may wish to dispose of. It will grant you a sense of control over your day as you resist the urge to do the one thing that your morning self wished away for the day.

To Achieve at Home: This should be written with a space below the "let go of" section. Put simply, this will contain a list of all the goals you want to achieve throughout the day (this may be home or even work related). I personally have been working from home since March 2020 and previously would write both a "to achieve at home" and a "to achieve at work section". I decided December 2020 to make it cater to my own personal goals as opposed to work related goals.

The main point here is that you should think of tasks (big or small) that you want to achieve throughout the day. For example, you may write "make the bed" or "spend time with the kids" or "have coffee". This can be absolutely anything and doesn't always have to be productivity driven. For my achieve at home section on the 4th February 2021, my list was:

1) Workout

2) Stretch

3) Read 1 chapter of the book (I am currently reading "Self Compassion" by Kristin Neff)

4) Clean the mirror

5) Wash plates

6) Blog

Although this seems largely goal driven, there have been days where there is nothing on my list but the words "chill out" written six times. This can be anything and everything you want it to be, it doesn't even have to be six goals, this amount just works for me.

Water: If you forget to drink enough water throughout the day, then this is key for you. This is simple, every time I drink a glass of water, I tick off the box (I always draw 3 boxes). Not only is water essential for your body, but it has proven to increase your energy and brain function.

Notes: This is the section where I fill the rest of the page. I will write a few sentences about anything that is on my mind, events that have happened throughout the day or anything that you have eaten. I roughly use a combination of all three and it differs through each page depending on what I feel like writing in that present moment. This is a section to really capture your mind in detail. In a few months time, you will look back and read about the events in the day. It may even make you smile.

To summarise

  • Highlight: Highlight of the day (write last before sleep)

  • Grateful: Something you are grateful for (biscuits, life)

  • Let go of: Something to let go of for the day (biscuits, not putting washing in).

  • To Achieve at home: 6 small goals to what you want to achieve through the day (wash clothes, read 30 pages, speak to the mother).

  • Water: 3 boxes for 3 glasses - stay hydrated

  • Notes: Summary of your day, mind, food, anything you desire.

Thank you.

Ali Abdaal's channel -

The journal I use -

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