There’s no one productivity system that works well for everyone. Some people swear by to-do lists; others believe they can get a task done by the time their to-do list is made, so why bother? The key to creating a method is to understand yourself best.

Looking and understanding through your passions, your sticking points, and various other creative inspirations or obstacles could help you understand what makes you tick, and how you can make the most out of each day. Designer and author Jack Cheng shares his method of becoming more aware of the self:

I’m a big proponent of journaling, because it builds self-awareness, which is always the first step to improvement. I’ve been journaling almost daily for two and a half years now, and it helps me recognize the irregularities. I believe we all have a natural understanding of the appropriate timing for ourselves but the problem for most of us is that it’s buried under layers of false expectations and misplaced obligations. Honest journaling helps you face your own fear and neglect.

These days I journal in a new blank text document on my laptop every day, but when that’s not accessible I’ll use pen and paper. 

As you gain this clarity, you will also gain insight into which realms of your craft you need to improve in, and which points in the day you are strongest or most tired. 

  • Bob Tabor

    Would love to hear insights on HOW or WHAT to journal. I’m on board with the idea … just don’t know how to go about it. Thoughts?

    • Herbert Lui

      Hi Bob, if you’re having trouble journaling, imagine you’re telling someone about your day — the highs, the lows, the things you learned, etc. Gradually, you’ll just keep writing deeper and putting the train of thought onto paper/text document. Start tomorrow with this method, if you’d like:

      J. Cole writes 3 pages of the first things he comes in his head as soon as he wakes up. He goes into detail in this interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=QzQDjS5K1fU&t=60

      …I may use that to create a post shortly, so thanks for the question.

  • Benjamin Buddle

    I’m somewhat amused to see this post after discovering the benefits on my own just this past week. It’s amazing how much the simple act of writing your ideas down helps you through processes. I wanted to start building positive habits, so I started writing down my whats, whys, and hows and gained a greater understanding overall and a clear plan.

  • http://pjrvs.com/ Paul Jarvis

    I journal every day. Most people mistake my “writing at least 1000 words a day” as 1000 publishable words, which is very much NOT the case. If I could write 1000 publishable words a day, I’ve have several more books, articles, etc…

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  • http://small-dose.com/on-the-importance-keeping-a-journal/ On the Importance of Keeping A Journal » Small Dose

    […] These days I journal in a new blank text document on my laptop every day, but when that’s not accessible I’ll use pen and paper. – Herbert Liu […]

  • http://lindsaytrinkle.com/?p=21 The weekender

    […] Gain creative clarity through journaling by Herbert Lui: I really appreciated the reminder that sometimes the tools we need more to be creative/productive can’t be found on our smartphones. I also appreciated that acknowledgement that different people need different systems and methods for productivity.  […]

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