I am a massive nerd, and I’m so thankful for it!
I love journalling, because it helps me to articulate my thoughts and get them down on paper. In particular, I’ve created a web application using Shiny to generate journalling templates that I fill out each day. The web application is definitely a minimum viable product and requires more documentation, but it does the trick for now. You can view the source code on Github.
In particular, I use both freeform and tactics journals:
I write in my freeform journal using this template:
- In the morning - as part of my AM SOP - I will copy and paste two or three Bible passages from my daily Bible reading plan into my freeform journal. I will also jot down some thoughts about each of these Bible passages and how they apply to my life.
- In the evening - as part of my PM SOP - I will journal stream-of-consciousness; whatever comes to mind. This practice has proved incredibly helpful just before going to sleep, as it reduces the likelihood that I will be kept awake by a hyperactive mind.
In his excellent book 12 Week Year, Brian Moran exhorts readers to keep weekly scorecards for 12 weeks about how they perform at tactics - or sub-goals - that contribute to higher-level goals. However, I resonated more with James Clear’s advice in his incredible work, Atomic Habits, that instead of setting big goals for ourselves, we should aim to continuously improve our systems. This is the philosophy behind the Japanese idea of kaizen.
In Work the System, Sam Carpenter explains to business owners the importance of having systems that are regularly followed to achieve certain outcomes. Carpenter also advises readers to set up standard operating procedures (SOPs) to document these systems. I adapted this idea for my personal habits, rituals and systems that I wanted to make progress on by documenting each of my tactics with a SOP.
Clear also notes that while missing a habit once is not fatal, missing a habit multiple times in quick succession risks building a new habit. Consequently, I use both daily and weekly tactics journals in the following way:
- I fill out my daily tactics journal multiple times per day. Each time I adhere to the SOP tactic or fail to do so, I journal about it using my SOP for finishing SOP tactics.
- I fill out my weekly tactics journal on Sunday morning using my weekly review SOP
I record below the SOP tactics that I aimed to achieve during various time spans of around 12 weeks: