25 Journaling Prompts For Productivity and Personal Growth

Where does positive change in life come from? What is the key ingredient, the compass? Mindset is an obvious answer: it’s no secret that how we view ourselves, other people and circumstances determines the direction in which life flows. Many of us want a mindset that is optimistic yet flexible, focused on growth and reaching the goals we set for ourselves. Yet, thinking how we know we should think demands practice and hard work. So, how do we train our minds to stay resilient in the face of challenge, look at the bigger picture and pinpoint where we need to improve in order to move forward?

Through unbiased self-evaluation, you can search for a more nuanced answer and overcome our instinctive tendency to search for simple conclusions. This, in turn, paves way for personal development by identifying the exact problems at hand, their origins and how they stand in the way of your goals. We must, in a sense, learn to take an aerial view of our lives.

Journaling is one of, if not the best way to practice self-evaluation and reflection. Many people, from scientists to historical figures and writers, identify their journaling habit as a centrepiece aspect of their success.

Journaling Prompts For Productivity, Personal Development and Growth

Journaling Prompts For Productivity, Personal Development and Growth

Others are skeptical of how a little notebook can supplement their journey to self-improvement. This used to be me. I worried about investing precious minutes into something without a tangible, immediate outcome. Yet by giving it a go, I learnt that journaling has a strong grounding influence. This in itself makes it worthwhile. Putting pen to paper streamlines the countless thoughts swirling around our heads. We can hold onto anything useful while taking out the rubbish. We can understand ourselves better and live each day with an uncluttered mind. And you guessed it – we can use journaling to get closer to our objectives and reflect on our personal development, whatever that term may mean to you. Just like they can help us organise our time, finances, tasks, journals put our thoughts in order and bring to light significant facts we may have otherwise missed.

I’ve talked before about how productivity and becoming your best self go beyond to-do lists and one-size-fits-all solutions. You need to personalise your approach and think within a longer timescale. Here’s where journaling can assist you. It’s your platform to reflect on yourself and your life as extensively as you wish, combining an emotional outlet with a roadmap for future action. And of course, effective journaling does not mean time consuming. Think five to ten minutes a day, or a couple of sentences. That’s all you need to give yourself momentum.

I’ve compiled a list of 25 prompts broadly related to productivity and reaching your goals to give you some ideas. Use these, and anything else that comes to mind, to initiate a journaling habit. Remember to be as specific as possible in your answers and journal consistently, because it is very much an activity the benefits of which are maximised in the long run.

Disclosure: some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This does not result in any extra cost for you, but it does mean that I make a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

25 Journaling Prompts to Encourage Productivity and Personal Growth

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Ten Exercises To Boost Your Motivation

You wake up, and the entire atmosphere seems to welcome you into the early hours. Energy flows through you like fuel. Goals and objectives sit at the forefront of your mind. You open your laptop and a blank document, or take out books, paper, stationary. The next two hours, in which your thoughts are transported into actuality and your knowledge is strengthened by new information seem to fly by. At the end, you receive the satisfaction of getting a task done in a timely manner.

On a different day, you wake up and everything feels grey. It takes an hour of stumbling about and getting yourself together just to get your workplace in order. You stare at a blank page with a similarly blank mind, succumb to a distraction, spend a further twenty minutes scrolling through social media. As the day passes, each task feels like summiting a mountain. You question yourself and your abilities, and spiral into self-deprecation.

Ten Exercises to Bring Back Your Motivation

A key ingredient which may differentiate between the two days above is motivation. Like ‘productivity’ and ‘wellbeing’, motivation is a buzzword in modern discourse. When thinking of what it means, we picture a reservoir which fluctuates in accordance with factors that seem rather elusive. Sometimes you wake up brimming with a drive to finish your tasks. Then there are the days when minutes feel like hours. Procrastination turns from an occasional nuance to a major hurdle between you and your objectives. For many people motivation determines the quality of their work and the extent to which they succeed in meeting their goals. It can, therefore, broadly be defined as an inner drive that facilitates goal-seeking behaviour, that makes it easier to overcome challenges and do what you want or must (or a mixture of both) with genuine enthusiasm.

However, motivation is notoriously vague. Striking randomly and often in short bursts, it makes a dangerous precondition for your commitment to start and finish something. With most tasks bound by time constraints and a world which moves quicker every day, we can hardly rely on sporadic visits from our muse to write, do our homework, finish projects, go to the gym, educate ourselves, etc. First and foremost, discipline and habit should be developed as key drivers of productivity. Or, we can take steps to create motivation. How motivation turns a task from a chore into an enjoyment makes a combination of the two an enticing option.

And as with anything else, creating motivation calls for an active approach. Finding yourself in a slump, don’t wait for it to come on its own. Make a conscious choice to reinstate your inner drive, approaching your daily endeavours with energy and liveliness. As well as keeping a daily focus on your long term goals – which make powering through difficult yet necessary activities worthwhile – there are certain habits and exercises we can implement when at a low point instead of turning to distractions and underestimating our power to get things done.

Ten Exercises to Renew Your Motivation

Ten exercises to boost your motivation, get out of a slump and energise your workflow - read more at INACCORDANCE

EXERCISE 1: Work on a task for two minutes

As compellingly articulated in an article by James Clear, ‘every goal can be started in two minutes or less’ – two minutes is all it takes to tackle your inhibitions. When the motivation just isn’t there, getting started is by far the hardest part of a task, in particular when you expect it to be difficult.

You find yourself catching up on social media, watching a YouTube video, responding to emails for much longer than necessary. If this happens, take a step back and work on your priority for two minutes. The prospect of 120 seconds need not require a wave of motivation in the same way as three hours of focused work. However, after the two minutes have elapsed, you are likely to find yourself transitioning to the latter, regardless of where your motivation may have been at the start. View Full Post

How To Vary Your Reading List (& Why It’s Important)

The skies are crisp and white today, speckled by graphite patches. Rain bubbles by the horizon. I expect it to arrive later that day, or dissolve into a drier spell, as far as that’s possible in Southern England. Occasionally, a few sun rays fall through the clouds, streaking the ground with a honeyed gold. Through a gap in my window, an invigorating, yet soothing breeze enters my room and uplifts a few pages of the book I’m reading diligently at my desk.

This interaction between wind and paper reminds me of how there’s a timelessness to reading. Civilisations come and go; zeitgeists and cultures change to become something unrecognisable. But a distinct current carries our love for telling and reading stories through the decades. And all writing is, fundamentally, a story, either told explicitly through a work of fiction, or implied in arguments in an academic journal. Even the advertising on the mail truck which falters outside my house and attempts a clumsy turnaround connotes a certain immediacy in its colours and logo: it is attentive to the efficiency of communication our world demands.

Few people can experience life in its full emotional, practical and intellectual dimension without a strong reading habit. Through reading, we can acquire specialised and applicable knowledge on topics of interest to us, whether history or personal development or mathematics. Words capture certain truths about the world, building our wisdom and emotional intelligence. We develop a more nuanced and diverse outlook on the human experience with all its complexities. And regardless of the extent to which film and other forms of entertainment grow in popularity, both for better and for worse, regardless of how digitised our lives become, I believe reading will retain a central place in our culture because language – musical, with infinite dimensions of expression – can’t be supplanted or erased.

As well as making reading an intrinsic part of our daily schedule, we should expand the type of material we read. Sure, you might have a specific genre or subject matter which aligns with your life and interests more than others. This may be a general preference, like reading fiction as opposed to nonfiction, or writing relevant to your pursuits, such as reading history books as a history student, business self-help as a business owner, etc.

Why You Should Branch Out Your Reading List, And How To Go About Doing It

But what are some of the benefits of branching out what you read?

  1. An expanded world view. Put simply, you’ll know more about the world, strengthening your arguments and perspectives on topical debates. By understanding how the world works, we can give rise to more intelligent conversation, which in turn engenders tangible change both in our local communities and on a bigger scale. Sure, we can’t become experts in absolutely everything from history and philosophy to maths and environmental developments, but expanding our general knowledge in a variety of areas allows us to engage fully with contemporary discourse.
  2. Multidimensional thinking. You can apply ideas from a variety of sources to the problems you face, whether in education, the workplace, or day-to-day life. For example, plucking ideas from philosophy can help you self-evaluate and tackle hurdles like procrastination and comparison. Reading fiction streamlines your writing skills, regardless of what the purpose of your own writing may be.
  3. Enhanced creativity. Reading something new is often a foolproof way to channel creativity and develop ideas when hindered by problems such as writer’s block. You can carry ideas between disciplines and combine them in unexpected ways, exploring issues from a novel perspective. In short, you’ll establish an ‘inner library’ from which to draw information and insights when the need arises.
  4. Curiosity! Knowing for the sake of knowing is a worthwhile endeavour. We should nurture our curiosity inside and outside formal education, making learning a lifelong goal. The best way to do this is through reading, and the more you diversity your reading list, the further you will acquaint yourself with an array of fascinating topics.
  5. Intellectual development. New material is likely to be challenging and out of your comfort zone, making you think in different ways. Broader intellectual development will arise out of this, equipping you with the mental skills that can be applied across multiple areas of life.

Even with a single purpose in life, surrounded by micro-objectives, reading widely makes us far more knowledgeable and involved in the world as individuals, while strengthening us in what we do because knowledge has a fluid quality. Not constrained to a particular subject or circumstances, but capable of being decontextualised and applied to anything from a mundane problem to one of existential proportions. View Full Post

Is There A Secret To Productivity?

Public transport, to many observers, personifies a modern day tragedy. On any train or bus, you will see endless commuters slumped over tablets and smartphones, a businessperson drafting emails, tabloids and broadsheets discarded on empty seats. There are more keyboard clicks than human voices. Everyone is connected and disconnected simultaneously. Such a scene evokes nostalgic, whimsical reflections about the Western world, the combined curse and blessing of the information age.

Newspapers, of course, are timeless. They entered circulation for the first time in the late seventeenth century and since then, their primacy in enlightening the public on political, economic and cultural matters. Magazines serve a similar function. Technology, however, is revolutionary by continuously changing both the amount and the type of material we can access, while emboldening us to become ‘content creators’ ourselves.

Few people reject technological change as entirely negative. After all, we are lucky to have anything from knowledge to business opportunities at our fingertips. But it can be pretty overwhelming. The world, for one, is polarised. Concerning divisive subjects such as politics and the human condition, opinions and sources conflict everywhere. Each one claims to ‘debunk’ the others. Regardless of whether the subject matter in question is the ideal political candidate or way to quit procrastination, each one markets itself as the voice of authority. And with the restrictions on who can produce informations for others to consume loosened, anyone can elevate their voice to that of an authority. The internet is a window and a shield, giving an insight into who one wants others to believe them to be. The right response to this is not nihilism but on the contrary, a critical eye, a display of selectiveness in choosing your sources and role models.

Little suffers from ‘information overload’ to the same degree as blogging and the ‘self-improvement’ niche. Entrepreneurs, bloggers and writers address the cultural aspiration to become our best selves and meet our goals, providing sometimes conflicting and sometimes harmonious advice on anything from time management to organisation

Is there a secret to productivity? What is behind applying productivity and personal development advise? - inaccordance

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The Dos and Don’ts of Note-taking

Taking notes is one of the most important skills we can develop as students and lifelong learners. Throughout education, our teachers continually urge us to give note-taking our best efforts, and not without good reason. Writing things down, in particular when done by hand, is indispensable to learning and delivers numerous benefits such as:

  • Better comprehension of difficult concepts. You can engage with the content and distill it to language you can understand.
  • Mental clarity. Systematically writing things down irons out your thoughts and organises information into a coherent format.
  • Information retention. A passive reception of new information is unlikely to become long-term knowledge. Taking notes, however, builds everything from facts and figures to academic arguments into your memory.
  • Boost to creativity. Effective note-taking encourages you to record your own thoughts, recognising links between concepts and between concepts and the wider world.
  • Encourages independent learning. Forgoing the need to rely on teachers and the internet to provide summaries, your autonomy in acquiring knowledge is strengthened.

That last point requires further emphasis. You can take note-taking far beyond the classroom. We all know that self-education beyond our school/university curriculums bolsters intellectual capital. Personal development resources champion reading as a core activity for lifelong success. However, passively flying through books and articles is of little use, and must be supplemented by an effective note-taking practice. Writing anything from a brief summary to a more thorough exploration focuses your attention on key themes/lessons/arguments and, should you go a step further by responding to the author’s message, encourages critical thinking.

In other words: taking notes throughout formal education facilitates learning as a continual, lifelong goal. Our age of technology bombards us with information. Notetaking, in turn, acts as an antidote for overwhelm and captures the quintessence of it all.

However, effective is a key word. And what exactly distinguishes effective note-taking from a waste of time? Why do some students spend hours writing out pages of information to no avail and mediocre grades?

I think the answer lies in technique and engagement. Bad note-taking feels easy: it creates the illusion of productivity, an escape from more demanding revision techniques such as past papers and flashcards. Good note-taking fully engages the brain, demanding you synthesise, organise and review the topic in question, and leaves you with a wholesome understanding. As stated by LifeHacker, ‘notes are tricky, because you want to keep things simple, and get down only the amount of information needed to help you recall it later’.

Because we all learn in different ways, not every note-taking method will work for you. Finding one that does requires experimentation and practice. However, there are several dos and don’ts we can all keep in mind, whether in school, throughout your career, or recreational learning, to make taking notes a worthwhile and fulfilling habit. View Full Post