Tag Archives: start

How to Start and Keep a Journal

I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t start keeping a journal until later in my life. I had regarded writing in a diary as being too self-absorbed. However, once I overcame the perception and got started, I quickly discovered the benefit and pleasure that came from keeping a journal.

However, it’s not always easy to keep a journal. We tend to side-track the process with self-imposed limits. We feel we don’t write well enough; our lives aren’t exciting or glamorous enough to document; and so on.

The thing is, there are no rules or limits on how to keep a journal. Here are some tips that can help you get started and get the most out of keeping a journal.

  • Write the date at the top of the page.
  • Include the time, location and weather for each day’s entry.
  • Leave space at the top, so you can go back and give the entry a title, once you’re finished.
  • Find the format that suits you best: loose-leaf binder, cheap notebook, Moleskine, leather-bound diary, all can work.
  • Find the time that works best for you: first thing in the morning, last thing at night.
  • Find the place that works best for you: the quiet of your bedroom, in a public coffee shop and so on.
  • Find the writing tool you are most comfortable with: a pen, pencil, marker, coloured pencils or other writing instrument.
  • Don’t be concerned with grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. Write so that you get your thoughts out as quickly as possible.
  • Write as often as you can. However, don’t pressure yourself to write daily. The more often you do write, the better you will become.
  • Draw, sketch, doodle instead of writing.
  • Use lists to kick-start your writing. “The 5 best things about today were…”
  • Keep special mementos in your journal: event tickets, photographs, flower petals, etc.
  • Let your feelings out. You can keep a journal which merely records the events of your life. There’s nothing wrong with that. You can add to its benefit by recording how you felt about what was going on.
  • Talk about a significant moment in the day
  • Write from your heart for yourself. This is a place to be honest with yourself. Write about the way you feel, not the way you think you should feel.
  • Although you should write for yourself, if you feel like you need an audience – Pretend you’re writing a letter or note to a trusted family member or friend.
  • Enjoy your journaling! Keeping a journal should not be a grim chore. If you see it that way, you’re not likely to keep it up for too long. Approach it in the spirit of creative play; an enjoyable, quiet-time gift to yourself.

Journals can be effective tools in helping one get organised, in the creative process, or in developing a new habit or skill. However, keeping a journal is a habit in and of itself and can be developed.

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7 steps to managing conflict

Several years ago, when I started my current job, I had a conflict with another employee. By strict interpretation of our policies, I was right in my actions, but I managed it very poorly. Shortly after that, the other employee resigned. It was a lack of experience on my part. I was more interested in being right than resolving conflict.

One of the harsh lessons you learn early in life, conflict happens. Not everyone will agree with you all the time, or even some of the time. To be successful in life, you need to know how to manage conflict.

I’m not so glib as to expect there is some magic “7–step” solution that will automatically eliminate all your conflict. There are areas of disagreement –say personal beliefs– that may never be resolved. Some past actions, that have deeply affected your life, could require a therapeutic approach to resolve.

However, much of the day-to-day conflict you face can be managed with deliberate and clear communication. If you find conflict is getting in the way of your accomplishing what needs doing, try these steps:

Explain the situation as you see it – Invariably, conflict is about perception and understanding. Start by telling the other party your understanding of the situation.
Describe how it is affecting performance – Tell them how this conflict affects what need to be accomplished.
Ask them to explain their point of view – This can be difficult, but let the other party explain their point of view.
You may find that these first three steps provide enough clarity to resolve the conflict. If not, move on the the next four steps.

Agree on the problem – Reach agreement on the problem. You need a common understanding to develop a workable solution.
Explore and discuss possible solutions – Work together to develop a solution to the conflict. Both parties will stick with a solution they have had a role in developing.
Agree on what each person will do to solve the problem – Make sure you walk away from the session with a clear understanding of which party is responsible for what action.
Set a date for follow up – Don’t leave it hanging. Get together to make sure things are on track. If the conflict is of a complex nature, you may need several follow-up milestones.

In the case of individuals in conflict, this process can work one-on-one. In more complex conflicts, or where groups of people are involved, a third-party facilitator might be needed.

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