Gayle's Insights



Keeping a Leadership Journal? Improve Your Thinking and Reduce Stress

By Gayle Lantz

In your role as a leader, there’s stress. It comes with the position.

You’re under pressure to make the numbers, meet deadlines and achieve specific goals. You must respond quickly and make smart choices.

Managing people adds more stress to the challenge.

There’s a lot going on in your world, but there’s also a lot of activity going on in your head.

How you deal with that activity in your mind affects how you perform in your role.

Sometimes the worst place to be is in your own head.

Journaling is a powerful way to manage your thoughts and ideas so you can lead at your best. That’s why I created The Leadership Journal (Second Edition).

It’s a simple tool to help you do your best thinking.

Research and many leader testimonials support the benefits of journaling as a personal best practice. Here are three tips to help you start or maximize your journaling experience.

  1. Make the Effort

Journaling captures thoughts and ideas to be revisited. You can work through difficult feelings and tough concepts in a different way. Journal entries are like bookmarks in a volume of important thoughts whose pages are constantly turning.

Not only does journaling prevent your important mental notes from being lost, it also improves your thinking.

Setting aside time to journal quiets your mind so you can think more clearly. This is what research funded by The National Institute of Mental Health concluded. Settled brains are simply more effective at processing and problem solving.

Additionally, research sponsored by the National Institute of Health found that replaying experiences in our minds is a great tool for learning. Journaling essentially provides you a way to relive thoughts or feelings, and reflect on them.

Learn from your successes and mistakes. You can determine how to adjust and improve. Making the effort to journal on these things is well worth it.

  1. Create a Routine

Many leaders make journaling a habit or personal best practice.

Try writing by hand. Working on a computer can be more efficient, but slowing down to manually write helps with processing thoughts. It eases the tension.

Consistency is key. Schedule your journaling time at a set time of the day or week and make that your commitment to yourself. Ten to fifteen minutes is all you’ll need.

Journal in private during a time when you won’t be interrupted.

Schedule it on your calendar.

The best journaling is spontaneous and transparent. There’s no need for proper grammar or spelling. Be honest with yourself. Let the thoughts flow freely.

The more candid you are, the more you will help yourself. Don’t use this time to judge or criticize yourself. Make it a positive time to learn and grow.

  1. Make It Meaningful

Journaling is most productive when asking yourself questions that provoke deeper thoughts as you attempt to answer them. The questions should cover a variety of ground, and they should be asked regularly for maximum benefit.

Focus on feelings, observations, concerns, hopes or whatever naturally emerges.

Don’t feel pressure to reflect on what you think you should be focused on.

Instead allow your mind to go where it wants to go.

It will make the experience more meaningful.

Resist the temptation to cut your routine. Practice patience and discipline.

When you’re derailed by distractions, simply start the practice again. The effects are long-term, but they can be amazing.

Let journaling refresh you and help you find a level of enjoyment you may be missing in your work, life and leadership.

Write now.

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About the author (Gayle Lantz)

Gayle Lantz
Gayle Lantz is a leadership consultant, speaker, author and founder of WorkMatters, Inc. She works with organizations, executives and top performers who are serious about growing their business and themselves.
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