Journaling for folks who don’t like to journal.

So, I’ve never been very good at journaling. I was diligent with the 5-minute Journal process for a time, which was helpful. But I’ve had a hard time being consistent.

And I know there are good reasons to keep a journal. I value reflection, and when I do it, journaling gives me perspective. It helps me be more grateful and less caught up in daily ups and downs.

But still, I don’t do it.

A different concept for a “journal”

Then I listened to Tim Ferriss interview Jim Colins where Jim described his “bug book.” (You can skip to 1:15:01 of this interview and listen for the next 10 minutes.)

Jim describes a practice where he would study himself like a bug. His goal was to observe himself in a dispassionate, almost clinical way and record his observations.

So, for example, he delivered a lecture to the team he was working with describing “Network Computing.” Preparing for and delivering that lecture was energizing and engaging, so he wrote something like:

The bug really loves understanding something complex, breaking it down, and teaching it to others.

He would also notice things that weren’t working for him, like:

The bug would languish if it had to spend a long time in meetings.

This allowed him to start noticing patterns in his days and weeks. He discovered what energized him and what drained him.

Once he saw those patterns, he noticed other people who seemed to live by those same patterns. People he looked up to or wanted to model himself after. What could he observe about them?

My experience with my “bug book.”

This idea of journalling seems much easier for me than the more freeform “write about your feelings” concept of journaling, but it has many of the same benefits!

  1. It helps me to accept objective reality. My observations, when piled up over time, are data I can use to make decisions.
  2. It helps me understand what’s happening inside me and with others. When I have a situation that doesn’t go well, I might say, “What happened to the “bug called Brad” in that situation?
  3. It gives me a chance to reflect on my day or week, which helps me to process that time and let it go.

Do you have a journaling practice that works for you? I’d love to hear about it. Could you hit reply and tell me about it?

If you don’t have a journaling or reflective practice that works for you, what could you gain by keeping a “bug book” of your own?

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