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The Planning Journal

This week’s posting will discuss the planning journal. You’re probably asking yourself, what is that? Well, Davis (2007) describes the planning journal as a place to brainstorm, to outline, to list out, or any process or tool you use to figure out how you are going to accomplish something or capture ideas about what you are going to do in the upcoming week, month, or year.

I don’t keep a planning journal but do go through these steps when I am looking at tackling a project. The steps I use are what David Allen (2015) calls the “Natural Planning Model” (p.60). Here’s what it looks like:

1. Defining purpose and principles
2. Outcome visioning
3. Brainstorming
4. Organizing
5. Identifying next actions

Defining purpose and principles is about deciding what you want to do and why you are doing it. Outcome visioning is what you see as the “product” of your efforts. Brainstorming is when you list out as many ideas about how you will accomplish something without judging them. Organizing is when we go through all our ideas, group them together, and get rid of the things we brainstormed that won’t work. Once we’re organized and all the tasks we have in our project are put into a defined order of items to accomplish we can identify what to start with first or what is called the next action.

It’s hard to brainstorm, organize, and put all of this together without having something to write in or on. I like using an app called Toodledo, which has a list and outline function. You can use pen and paper in your journal. In the list section, I brainstorm. I literally try to capture anything and everything I will need to do to get something done. This is important for research papers, complicated projects, and writing books, articles, or blog posts. I try to capture anything and everything I will need to do and just list it out in whatever order the ideas come to me. Once I’m done with that, I organize by putting them in an outline, putting these ideas into an order of execution. Then you can take your outline with your ordered tasks and put them on your to-do list or your productivity tool.

You can also write down the things you want or need to do. Maybe you must get a birthday gift for someone. You can brainstorm and research what items you think they need and start getting prices and stores that have these items. Maybe you are looking to begin going to the gym. You can flesh out your ideas on how to get started. Maybe you want to take a vacation or trip or maybe begin working on establishing a new habit you believe will be beneficial.

Anything can go in your planning journal that has to do with ideas, upcoming tasks, projects to accomplish, big projects, anything. Have fun with this idea. One other thing. A planning journal can track your process of idea generation, brainstorming, and ideas of what you’d like to do. It is a great place just to put all of those random ideas that pop into your head about what you might want to do like to do or need to do. It is a great tool to look back at and see where you were and where you have come.

One other best-practice I’d like to introduce you to is the idea of time stamping everything you put into a journal. This way it’s easier to see your growth in action. You can see what you were thinking about in a given period. I’ll pass on all my best-practices in my final article in this journaling series.

I hope this was helpful. Feel free to pass along any ideas you have here if you’d like.

Until next time…



Allen, D. (2015). Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Davis, K. (2007). 15 types of journals to keep. Retrieved from https://www.darktea.co.uk/blog/15-different-types-of-journals-to-keep