Making Time To Journal

It may seem like a challenge to keep up with maintaining a daily journal, or learning how to build the habit of doing so. Trust me, I’ve tried—and failed several times (in my almost 10 years of dear diary-ing my way into adulthood, lol). But I realized that the important thing is to really block off time on some days of the week to work on your pages, and to enjoy the art of documenting, of course. Today, I’ll be sharing some tips on making time, as well as advice to keep the habit ongoing. 🙂 Read on!

1. Update at least thrice a week.

So my daily journal comes in a spread of 2 days – the main reason why I opt to just update every other day (photo below for reference). I can make it a connecting spread, or use the same elements to update the 2 pages. Saves a lot of time for me rather than updating every day.

Pro tip: It’s okay to miss days! Don’t feel pressured to finish. Sometimes even just a one-sentence summary is enough for a specific day. I just happen to have a habit of writing at least 4-5 highlights per day, and add in some side notes, hence the very text-heavy spread. 😛 (Again, that’s just me! It varies.)

*ABC Daily Journal is available at Shop Abbey Sy.

2. Time yourself.

I know, I know—we’re all busy. As much as I treat my journaling as therapy, I give myself 30 minutes max to work on the pages. I don’t like getting OC about it (it’s not for a client anyway!). However, if you’re lettering the whole page, maybe allot an hour max or you may resume the next day.

The problem of taking too long to journal (like more than an hour) is you overthink about how your spreads look like or feel pressured to make it look “good”. Remember, journaling is first and foremost a personal activity, so you are ideally the only person you have to please. That, and it’s what you put into each page that matters. 🙂

3. Don’t kill time. Use it to journal.

You know how there really are episodes of “I have so much time to kill”—especially in unforeseen circumstances (delayed flight, waiting in line somewhere, stuck in traffic, or simply on break from work) in a day? Well, that’s the best time to journal rather than tinkering your phone. Saves time and keeps you more productive!

[a peek into my journaling process]

While I don’t bring my journal with me (I have a separate one for my travels) on a regular basis, I do stay home (homebody much haha) and keep it near my work area so I tend to write / update it during work breaks or early in the morning/late at night when work is out of the way.

4. Clean your space.

I have this tendency to want to have my table clean before working, and I guess that strongly applies to making art in general as well. Keep your little journaling nook tidy every after you get messy with your pages. Usually I end up making a mess but eventually I clean the area after. 🙂

Another tip: if you plan to journal the next morning, keep your space tidy the night before and put out the tools you’ll be using. Obviously, you won’t have any excuse to not journal!

5. Treat it as a task (and challenge yourself with prompts!)

I often get complaints about how journaling eats up sleeping time, me-time, etc and here’s my tip: you really have to put it on your schedule. If it’s important to you, you’ll make time. It only takes a few minutes a day to sit down and write. If you have time for other things, you’ll definitely have time to update your journal.

Another thing to save time on if you run out of ideas to write about in your journal? Follow the prompts and check out documenting inspiration inside my book, The ABCs of Journaling. There are ideas on Chapter 2 (Documenting Daily) as well as list of prompts on Chapter 5 (Honing Your Habit). Check out the flip through below!

Hope these tips motivate you to start journaling or continue the habit! Remember, it’s a process that’s worth enjoying. And the only person who will benefit from it is you, so better make it matter. 🙂

Photo Credits: Koko Ko & Shutterpanda

In other journaling-related news, I’m having two journaling workshops this May and June! Both out of Manila so I’ll definitely be organizing a Manila one after June. 🙂 For all you residing in La Union and Singapore, check out the workshops below.

Will be in La Union this May 20 for a Lettering x Journaling Workshop! Sign up at (last few slots left!)

Will be in Singapore this June 3 & 4 for back-to-back creative classes with Faber-Castell Singapore! Watercolor Lettering is now full; last few slots left for the Creative Journaling workshop this June 4, Sunday. Sign up at 🙂


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