I was skeptical when I first heard about journaling.

“Journal? Why would I write in a diary? That’s for teenage girls!”

I was really dismissive in the beginning.

But over time, I started seeing a pattern from studying the habits of people I looked up to:

They all have some kind of journaling or meditation practice. 

And so I paused my cynicism and started journaling.

I’m sure you’ve heard about the benefits of journaling or meditation: reduce stress, increase happiness, blah blah blah. I won’t bore you with my own epiphanies. It’s all true.

So if you’re where I was — skeptical but curious — and looking to try journaling, here’s a super simple daily journal template you can use to kickstart your own practice:

A Simple Daily Journal Template: Yesterday, Today, Check-in

When you journal — just ask yourself these 3 simple questions:

  1. What happened yesterday?
  2. What am I doing today?
  3. How am I feeling?

That’s it.

Recap what you did Yesterday, organize what you’re doing Today, then do a quick emotional Check-in to clear your head.

You’ll feel different immediately. In a time of newsfeeds, notifications and endless to-do lists, it’s so rare that we actually pause and ask questions that force us to slow down.

There’s no right or wrong way to fill in this template. Make your entries as long or as short as you’d like.

how to get the most out of this journal template

The Yesterday, Today, Check-In daily journal template gives you the structure, but you actually have to follow through consistently to feel the benefits.

A personal trainer can give you the perfect workout routine, but it’s useless unless you actually do it 🙂

So here’s a few tips to help you build a small journaling habit, and actually get use out of the template:

  1. Attach journaling onto an existing habit
    Journal immediately before or immediately after something you already have an existing habit for. Some things you could “piggyback” your new journaling practice onto: brushing your teeth; eating breakfast; arriving at work.
  2. Pick a journal format that gets out of your way
    What’s the fastest and easiest way for you to answer those three questions? Pen and paper? Voice recording? Using an app like Day One or Journey?  Sending an email to yourself? Using a simple text editor? Pick whatever format has the least friction to get those answers out of your head.
  3. Journal rain or shine
    This is the one where most people fail. Journal when you’re sick, when your head hurts, when you’re on vacation. It just has to happen, even when you only have time to scribble a short entry.

Build on the habit over time.

Just as a yoga beginner may start out with basic poses then move on to more difficult ones, you may want to increase the complexity of your journal prompts over time.