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

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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Character, Language, and Finding Our Deeper Values

The culture of a given society has several layers. Firstly, there are the arts and the achievements, symbols, the figures who represent the nation’s history and contemporary circumstances. A deeper layer, requiring consistent engagement with the culture to understand, encompasses everything from common worldviews and attitudes, to humour and mannerisms. Language is somewhere in between. Objective meanings of words and phrases can be learnt from any textbook. However, exposure to how the language operates within the culture and social interactions reveals its emotional dimension. The connotations of words, their flavour and the pictures they paint, must be felt and cannot be formally taught.

I am familiar with the character of two countries, far removed from each other in geography and culture: immigrating as a nine year old, I’ve retained a strong memory of my native land, the Russian Federation. British teenage years followed a predominantly Russian childhood. Acquiring a a second citizenship at a lively ceremony in 2012 symbolised my assimilation of everything from the South-Eastern dialect to the manners and customs of my new compatriots. Nowadays, I think, speak, and write predominantly in English. During my annual visits to Russia, I receive a few laughs from loved ones at my odd manner and accent. For sure, a different person would have emerged from the absence of an immigration experience, but through bilingualism I have retained ties to my ethnic origin. My soul combines hues from both countries and I am profoundly aware of their disparities.

The importance of core values and how to find them

I’ve learnt that submerging yourself into a second culture or language reveals facts that can seldom be conveyed through a secondary account.

Humour, for example, gives translators more nightmares than laughs. Jokes have roots in history and the intricacies of a given language. A whimsical anecdote from Russia may receive blank stares from a British audience if it depends on the historical resonance of a particular word or character. Likewise, my mum still scolds me for self-deprecating quips, which translate into Russian as a deliberate and cruel effacement of oneself. View Full Post

The Importance of Thinking Bigger

Without detail, the world would seldom be able to function. Detail ties everything together, from our day to day schedules to the most intricate machines and international trade deals. Understanding the subtleties makes you an expert in any given system. Applying rigorous planning (think everything from countless lists to time blocking and editorial calendars) to your life engenders organisation and productivity. Sometimes, while tapping away on my phone or swiping my contactless Visa, I am stopped by the realisation of just how complex familiar mechanisms are below the surface.

When I was younger, my grandma taught me to ‘think about detail’, using fashion and writing as an example: your choice headwear or a sheeny bracelet can turn a bland outfit luxurious. Similarly, a spelling mistake can undermine the credibility of your argument. These lessons stuck around because as I grew older and older, I found further examples of where details matter. Understanding something beyond a surface-level overview in education creates a valuable learning experience and facilitates information retention. Good essay writing, in turn, requires you scrutinise the details of your topic (in the form of objective evidence, facts, statistics) before assembling a thesis or argument. In other words, you must avoid cherry-picking evidence for a preconceived idea and focus on where the facts actually lead.

The beauty of details lies in how they melt at the edges and into each other, forming an outward picture which hides the technicalities underneath. However, when we think about such technicalities, don’t we do it, either consciously or subconsciously, with the intention of producing a specific, final result which is enshrined within our minds? For example, through your choice of accessories or jewellery, you produce a distinctive style without any missing components, and by meticulously editing your writing – a resulting piece which flows and engages. Even the extraction of viewpoint from evidence in academia follows deeper principles, an admiration of unbiased research. Thinking bigger, therefore, is not a negligence of detail but an understanding of why these details exist in the first place. View Full Post