You have this urge, this creative tickle to put your
thoughts down, memorialize special occasions, or just get some things off your
chest. But amid work, taking care of the kids, cleaning and maintaining the
house, and the myriad other demands on the limited hours in your day, you just
don’t have the convenience of hiding somewhere private and pouring your heart
and soul onto the page.
If this sounds like you, keeping a micro journal may provide the scratch you need to satisfy that creative itch. You can make daily entries in about the time it takes to snap a picture with your phone. You can even use the picture you just snapped as your entry.
But a micro journal can encompass much more. Some people use them for art, while others use the micro method to study the Bible. You can build a micro journal based on tried and true examples, or invent something no one has seen before. You can even take a well-worn idea and teach that old dog a new trick.
What is a micro journal?
At its simplest, a micro journal is to a journal what Cliff Notes are to novels, only not as restricted. Where Cliff Notes have to cover an entire book, your micro journal entries might consist of a single word or doodle. But don’t let the small size fool you.
The power of micro journals
Like our little friend, the ant, micro journals pack a lot of punch in a teeny tiny package. They teach you to make a firecracker of memories with just a few words. Micro journaler Ariel Bissett says something as simple as “got lost,” reminds her of the trip to Toronto, where she and her mother lost their way, trying to find a local library.
You might write something like, “Susie walked,” to commemorate a child’s first step, or, “Trevor’s surprise,” to spur the memory of a beautiful birthday dinner, anniversary gift, or just the day he brought flowers.
Maybe you just need to get some things off your chest, like, “Hate work!” As you can see, a simple word or two can fill you with warm remembrances or help purge your harmful negativity.
Types of micro journal
Micro journals come in several varieties. Some people use them to record task lists. Others keep bullet point journals, recording each of the day’s notable events as short sentences in a bulleted format.
One popular method involves keeping notes in the margins of a book. Then you have the micro art journal and the micro junk journal, more about artistic expression than recording thoughts or looking inward. Each serves a purpose, and which you choose depends on what you want to get out of it.
Micro task journal
Like it says, you use this to record tasks, usually ones you’ve completed during the day. It serves as an accountability journal as much as anything. I’ve used this type of journal to help me through the times I felt like I wasn’t getting anything done. It served two purposes: To help me see that I was performing useful tasks during the day and to show me when I really did spend too much time watching TV or playing video games.
A task journal might look something like:
- Finished laundry
- Cleaned bedroom
- Wrote 2K words
Bullet point micro journal
Most journal lovers think of this one when they hear
the term micro journal. This style condenses the dear-diary-type or log-type
journal into bullet points and sentences. This style works perfectly for those
who want to keep a record of their lives but just don’t have the time or the
desire to write paragraphs and pages.
“I remember being a little, tiny kid and wanting to have a diary, and I’ve never been able to do it,” Ariel tells us. “I just always end up dropping the project.”
Then she discovered micro journaling. She doesn’t remember
why, but one year she started keeping notes on a wall calendar. Simple
sentences, like, “Reached 50,000 subscribers,” and “Got lost,” bring memories
of the events and the day flooding back.
Todd Brison says journaling never felt like progress to him. “I could never do
it consistently, and if I had to write one more feeling, I would have thrown up.”
He tried micro journaling and found that it not only took
less time but gave him the mental boost he needed. “This, far and away, is the
number one thing I’ve done to improve my focus throughout the day.”
How to bullet point micro journal
First, decide how you what medium you want to use. You can use a planner, a calendar, pen and paper, a word processor, email – anything that works for you. Then make a list of bullet points about your day. Use as few or as many as you like. For today, mine would look something like:
- Cleared out the junk mail
- Worked on blog
- Learned lead to Hard to Handle
This means something to me because it’s a pain to go to the mailbox at my apartment, I love to write, and I enjoy playing greasy, southern rock and blues on my guitar.
Todd has a slightly different take. He says to:
- Write the date. “By listing every day out, you remind yourself you are alive, you are being intentional, and you acknowledge you will never get
another chance to live this day.”
- Make a list of 10+ things. Any ten things – 10 reasons you love your job, 10 things you want to do today, anything. “It doesn’t really matter what the list is made of.”
- Write one thing you are grateful for. “Gratitude is critical. If you can’t be thankful for something you already have, you will not be thankful for anything else you achieve that day.”
- Put the journal away and get back to life.
Most important of all, pick the style that works for you. You may find that single words get the job done, or that it takes 20 bullet points. You can find plenty of apps out there, if you want to try that route, like Microsoft Planner and Journalistic, to make micro journaling as simple or as official as you like.
Art micro journaling
With this type of journal, you take a little journal book and get creative. Kerry May uses her art journal to paint with watercolors and highlight quotes on a painted page. “It is much simpler than using a large journal, as it is much less intimidating. I never struggle with what to put on the page, I just get out my supplies and create.”
Check out some of her fun entries here.
Junk micro journaling
Junk journals look a lot like art journals, but rather than painting and drawing, you use different things, like magazine clippings, to make up the pages. “The journal is made with mostly a mix of found and recycled materials,” Chelle says.
Check out her introduction and ideas on her site.
Bible journalers get a lot of mileage out of this one, making note of ah-hah moments and insights in the margins of their Bibles. Lil uses this method to keep a living diary and grow her faith. Her notes remind her of the feelings she had and the understanding she gained at that moment in time. She finds it so useful, she
shares an in-depth guide on how to do it on her blog.
While used most visibly by Bible journalers, this method will work with any topic, as long as it’s something you refer back to from time to time.
Some final thoughts
Remember, keeping a micro journal is a personal journey. Pick a method that works for you or use a variety of types. Even combine types. From my list, I might glue a picture of a Fender Stratocaster on the page, draw some stylized black crows (the band that plays Hard to Handle), and write, “Lead Demon,” or “Needs work.”
Whichever style appeals to you, just get started and give it a chance. Make it meaningful, and don’t be afraid to change things to make them work for you.