This year, I started a new daily journal routine. It's simple. Nearly every morning, I sit down and journal. I don’t journal to be productive. I don’t do it to find ideas, solve problems, or to draft blog posts. My journal isn't intended for anyone but me.
I've mostly been using the Five-Minute Journal to do this exercise. Occasionally, I'll follow the Morning Pages routine. On a rare occasion, when I'm not someplace convenient, I'll write my thoughts in a notepad or on my iPhone or iPad. The point is that I don't use excuses to not do it. There's always five minutes, and I always have access to some paper or a device. It works best for me when I journal in the morning, but on some days, it happens later in the day.
Hands down, this new routine has been the best and simplest way for me to focus and balance my thinking. But, to be clear, it's not an exercise to try to focus or to be productive. I'm now convinced that journaling is the most helpful exercise to capture thoughts and patterns. This also isn't about writing or blogging. There are huge benefits to writing, even if no one, myself included, ever reads the words. In this case, the daily process and the activity itself, matters more than the result.
For me, it's simply about getting thoughts out of my head. In GTD terms, it's akin to a brain dump, but less structured. My daily journal doesn't have to solve problems. This simple exercise for five minutes each morning is life changing.