List journaling is one of the easiest ways to journal – because all you need to do is write a list! With list journaling, there’s no need for long, lengthy prose or complete sentences. In turn, your answers create a page of manageable, digestible information, which is super easy to look back over and reflect on.
As a result, list journaling is an effective technique for people who don’t love writing, get distracted easily, or get frustrated because their journaling doesn’t take them anywhere.
Here’s how you do it:
- Take a blank page.
- Grab a pen [or pencil].
- Choose a question with multiple possibilities or answers, for example: “X ways I’m getting in my own way” OR “X things I have to be grateful for”.
- Then go!
The secret is to sit with the process and write beyond what you think you have to say – knowing that your answers will often come in waves.
A lesser-known list journaling secret!
The most potent list journaling tool you have to play with is the target number of answers.
You’ll find it relatively easy to write five answers because there’s an easily accessible layer of surface information.
BUT compel yourself to move beyond the obvious, and awesomeness can unfold! Just when you think you’ve exhausted all possibilities, another thought can come through, which can spark a whole new stream of thoughts [and add many more things to your lists].
This is why I encourage you to write l-o-n-g lists.
Aim for 10 answers, 20 answers, 50 answers – even 100 answers.
If you push yourself to move beyond what’s comfortable and straightforward, you move into the realm of inspired aha and eureka moments.
That’s because to find answers that aren’t immediately accessible requires you to think a little harder and search a little deeper.
As a result, access different memories.
You spend longer mulling over the question – and time can dislodge thoughts and insights you’d have overlooked if you stuck with the surface level.
You’ll also switch on next-level curiosity… what else could you say?
You’ll feel more creative too – looking for the unlikely answers, the nuances, the quirky responses and the stuff you’d have otherwise overlooked or undervalued.
No wonder long lists unleash GOLD!
But that’s not all! There’s more to this seemingly simple practice – as I’m going to reveal next…
1. Free up headspace.
When do your most inspired and creative ideas show up? If you’re anything like me, it’s probably when you least expect them too – and definitely when you weren’t trying!
Walks, listening to podcasts, reading books, taking a shower etc.
When doing these types of activities, your brain is free to wander. You’re not forcing anything. Instead, your subconscious is exploring the realms of possibility and potentiality. You’re present in the moment – and therefore connected to the energy and information that’s available in that moment.
Your thinking mind is relaxed and open. Inside of that stillness lies inspiration.
List journaling creates this space for possibilities to bubble up. When you write a list that exhausts your available thoughts, you leave a gap for something else to enter.
2. List journaling cultivates depth.
Science has found that our attention spans are now officially lower than goldfishes!
But perhaps this fact is less shocking when you remember the age we live in. Technology has made Information ABUNDANT and overwhelming. We can’t cope with all the data and stimuli fighting for our attention, so we sift through the clutter and cut through the noise – until something captures our imagination and interest. Only then do we dive in deeper.
Long lists call for depth by inviting you to reach for the answers that lie beyond the surface. In turn, a list can take you to places and ideas that would otherwise remain hidden.
3. Promotes focus & concentration.
In an age of information abundance, we’ve become highly distractable. As a result, we dance at the surface and can struggle to sit with one thing for any length of time. I believe an ability to do deep, focused work is a skill that will continue to increase in value.
Those who can sit through the resistance and temptation to ‘just look at email’ open the doors to the rewards that lie on the other side of deep concentration.
List journaling offers a set of guardrails that keeps your mind focused on one train of thought. As a result, you’re less likely to drift into the low-level, repetitive thoughts that take up most of our brain capacity, investing more energy down lines of thinking that have the potential to lead somewhere meaningful.
That’s MAGIC 🙂
4. List journaling is brilliant for creatives.
Lists inspire you to unlock new ideas and train your brain to become an idea-generating machine!
Often, we settle for the first answer and idea – but! What if you kept on looking?
In the words of Linus Pauling, “The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.”
How many ideas will your list journaling stimulate? Remember, “One sound idea is all that one needs to achieve success.” – Napoleon Hill. Think & Grow Rich.
The quality of your questions impacts the quality of your lists.
Alongside your target number of answers, the second factor that impacts the quality of your lists is the questions you ask yourself.
For example, the life value of discovering 50 things you like to eat is far less than the value you’ll extract from capturing 50 ways to unlock your potential.
In the Master Keys System, Charles F Haanel says that “Questions are spiritual searchlights”.
I’m obsessed with this analogy. Haanel captures the transformative nature of the right question at the right time in just a few words.
I love asking questions. This skill runs through all aspects of my work and is one of the core ways I seek to activate people and crack open something meaningful.
I created this list of 52 List Journaling Prompts to help you craft lists that open doors, boost self-awareness, and stir up ideas.
Often, the blank page is the single biggest preventer of journaling breakthroughs.
With this list journaling tool, your words will flow like water! Grab your copy when you CLICK HERE.