This short cut journaling has improved my life

Time. I’ve been struggling with feeling like there’s never enough of it. Is it an age thing? Because I feel like the days pass like seconds and at the end of each evening, I wonder how it flew by so quickly. 

It’s probably a state-of-our-society thing. With the information overwhelm in the news, on social media, in the digital age we’re living, we are inundated with so much information that has caused our attention spans to significantly decrease. 

I want to feel grounded. I want to be present day-to-day. I want to appreciate my life as I’m living it and be able to reflect on my days while feeling fulfilled and grateful.

For many, journaling helps people feel this way. But if you’re like me, you don’t have the discipline to actually sit down and journal. Guess what, though? I’ve been doing a short cut journaling method that’s been working well for me and accomplishes exactly what I need!

Shortcut Journaling 

We’ve all heard of scheduling our day to be more efficient. While I think it’s important to manage my time on the front end, I think it’s just as important to look back on our schedule to reflect on what actually happened.

For example, I use my Google calendar on my iPhone to schedule out my week. I add and make adjustments to each day as I get closer. You do this too in some form, right? 

To my regular day to day planning, I added one more step. At the end of each day before going to bed, I take 15 minutes to reflect and document my actions into my calendar to see how I actually ended up spending my time. 

I log in everything that took 15 minutes or longer. Walking the dogs, making dinner, carpool, personal phone calls, work, family time- it all goes into the calendar. 

My calendar becomes a cliff-note-form journal each day that I can reflect upon! It’s useful for the immediate day, but even more valuable in the future.

What made me start documenting my time? 

Last year went by too fast. When I looked back to see how I lived life during those 12 months, it had random to-dos with events and information that didn’t create any story of my year. 

When we have documentation on how we spend our time, we can see patterns in our behavior that might otherwise not be clear. 

Have you checked the iPhone’s feature that tells you how much time you’re on it each day? Go to Settings/Screen Time. It breaks down your time on the phone between social media, email texts, etc. It’s an eye-opener. I bring this up because I feel it’s kind of an analogy to the results of this useful short-cut journaling.

Short-cut journaling shows what we prioritize

Spending 15 minutes at the end of each day logging how we spent our time is a great practice not only to feel accomplishment for the things you did that day (or see that you didn’t spend the day wisely), but to look back alongside other days to identify patterns of how you lived your life. 

Here is an example of the documentation of one of my days to give you an idea of the level of detail to document. Anything that I spend 15 minutes or more goes into the calendar. It happens to be an extremely productive day (not every day is like this!).

Every day for me is different, and this one was focused on getting video and photo content for a sponsored post and my jewelry site. In 3-6-9-12 months I can look at this day along with the ones around it to tell a story of how my quarter/half year/year went and where my priorities were. 

Short-cut journaling makes me more self-aware

For me, this documentation is not so much to help me become more efficient but to look at trends in how I spend my time to learn more about myself.

What was driving me? Did I get the value I was looking for through that time investment? What is missing? What’s important to me? Do I need to make adjustments? 

For instance, looking back at my schedule for the last 6 months, other than dealing with my fibroid issue that made me feel unwell, I realized I’d become somewhat reclusive. I cut down social time dramatically. I stopped going out to lunch with friends 1-2x a week. My weekends were primarily with family unless there was a special occasion I felt guilty to miss.

I realized this pattern was due to more than feeling depressed, triggered by my fibroids. More on the reason for this behavior in a future post, but had I not looked back on my schedule, I don’t know if it would have been as clear.  

When we are living life day-to-day, we don’t analyze our actions.. we just do. But there are subconscious drivers that lead how we behave. Looking at patterns forces me to ask hard questions. And when I do, it usually uncovers something going on that needs to be addressed. I will discuss more on this topic soon. For now, digest this idea of short cut journaling.

Now, this may be a little more than you need journaling to do for you. But at the very least, documenting how you spend your time will assist you to reflect and feel grateful for the things you were able to experience that day. And, when someone asks ” Remember the time when we went to that place,” you can actually refer to the exact day and time! Do you think this is something you want to try? Too much? I’d love to hear your thoughts! As always, subscribe to my blog for notifications of new posts and weekly inspiration quotes! 

Flavor Your Life with an Ounce of Salt. A lifestyle blog by Jen Oliak.