First Name: “Mr” Middle Name: “.” Last Name: “T”
Mr. T is an 80’s icon. He made Mohawks cool when mullets were the raddest do on the hair style block. He stuck with gold, even when Cubic Zirconia made a run on the Home Shopping Network. He wrestled with Hulk Hogan, fought Rocky Balboa and defended Ricky Stratton against a bully in a very special episode of Silver Spoons. It is well known that Mr. T pitied fools. Man, did he pity some fools. He even had his own Saturday morning cartoon and matching cereal (dosed with copious amounts of yummy 80’s sugar) that made a cameo in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. All that being said, I think it was his transcendent portrayal of BA Baracus on The A-Team that ultimately cemented Mr. T as my 80’s TV spirit father.
Journal Like a BA
Little known made-up fact: Mr. T loved to Journal. Yeah, pretty random, huh? What’re the chances? It is with Mr. T’s manly zest that I approach Journaling. I don’t “Journal” in the soft, wimpy, traditional “Dear Diary” sense. For me, Journaling is a true Action VERB … like, a hardcore, bearded, Mohawked, 40 lbs of solid gold chain wearing Action VERB. Journaling for me has become a lethal productivity weapon of sorts. Any time I stumble on a tough question or if I have a big idea that I know will require some deeper thought … I sit down … whip out my iPad … and I “Journal” on it.
Through an unfiltered stream of consciousness (i.e. I basically talk to myself), I’ll type and type and type … and 10 times out of 10, the answer will present itself. It isn’t always quick (some persistence is required), but when the answer does hit, it produces a visceral #GoodFeels, ah-ha, oh-snap! moment where the hair stands up on my arms and time seems to stop. The answer is just waiting … begging to come out. This is what it means to Journal like a BA. Journaling for this specific (clears throat … and manly) purpose has become an absolute game changer for me.
I Tried Journaling in the Past
Back in the day, I’d always heard: “You should Journal!” and “You should Meditate!” and “You should do (goat) Yoga!” … and I’d think, “Yeah, that’s what I need to do! That’ll help me clear my head!” And then I’d try a “Gratitude Journal” for a few days and it’d look like this:
Day 1 – “I’m grateful for X, Y & Z. Yay! 😁 X, Y & Z are important to me and I am so grateful for them. Dang, this feels good! Look at me … I’m Journaling! I’m so glad I’m doing this!”
Day 2 – “I’m grateful for … well … X, Y & Z … again … and … um … @. I’m grateful for @ today, too. Wait … am I allowed to be grateful for more than 3 things? Hmm … wondering if I should swap @ in and pull out X, Y or Z? I mean, I was just grateful for them yesterday. But, if X or Y ever saw this, they’d think I wasn’t grateful for them. That would totally suck. But, I could explain that I’m always, automatically grateful for them? They’d understand! Are these even in the right order? Whatever. I’ll just add @ to the list. Better safe than sorry. Yay? 😕”
Day 3 – “Today, I’m grateful for … um … X again … and … hmm, I wonder if I should leave Y out today to change things up. I mean, Y kind of pissed me off yesterday and maybe @ should be my 2nd go-to grateful thing each day anyways? Dang it. This is so stressful. Who am I kidding? I’m grateful for the same stuff everyday. Am I even doing this right? I suck at Journaling … I quit. 😖”
Now, I’m not knocking Gratitude Journals or any other form of Journaling or Meditation or whatever. Different strokes for different folks and honestly, anything that can help anyone clear headspace so they can be present and in the NOW is a definite winner in my book! The traditional stuff just didn’t work for me. And it’s not “Journalings” fault that I have a giant self doubt ballon that follows me around like a puppy, smelling the Turkey Jerky I so obviously have stashed in my pocket. What I am grateful for though, is that I’ve finally landing on something that works for me 💪.
How Journaling Fits Into My Productivity Flow
As I mentioned, Journaling has become a go-to weapon in my trusted productivity system … right up there with my Inbox and my Daily Review. In my last post: Be a Pebble Snatching, Productivity Fu Master, I got weedy in my Things3 setup and use of Tags. During my Daily Review, each todo gets assigned an “Action Tag.” For quick hit todos, I assign the ⚡️Quick! Tag. For anything that’ll take me more than 15 minutes to complete, I assign the 😎 Focused! Tag. I assign my ✍️ Journal! Tag to todos where I know deeper thought will be required. 🛒 Errand and ☎️ Call are pretty self explanatory.
Once I flag a tough question or big idea with my Journal Action Tag, I know that I can confidently file it away. It won’t linger or compete for my mental attention. I know that when it’s time for me to figure it out, I’ll effortlessly summon the todo via a Keyboard Shortcut (control + option + 6) and I’ll “Journal on it” like a BA.
Enter Bear for Journaling
Things3 is where my todos and projects live … I use Bear for all things writing: Journaling, Notes (work and personal), Blog posts, etc. Bear is an awesome app and together, Things3 and Bear are a killer combo. You can use “Tags” in Bear as a way to group your notes. For consistency, I’ve set up my Bear Tags to (pretty closely) mimic my Areas and Projects in Things3. To assign a Tag, you enter # and simply start typing the name of the Tag … all existing Tags and Sub-Tags become available for selection. This is a big deal because in a lot of apps, if you misspell a Tag, you can accidentally end up with a bunch of junky duplicates.
Another feature that I use constantly is the ability to copy a link to a note from Bear and paste it in a Project or Todo in Things3. This is great for supporting Project details or to link out to results from a Journaling session.
Journaling Aversion Lifted
Thankfully, my Journaling aversion has been lifted. It had a stigma going for a while there. When I thought of “Journaling,” I used to picture brace-faced teenage girls writing in their diaries or wino-moms writing sultry secrets about hunky co-workers. But no more! In fact, I’ve let down my manly guard just a bit and I find myself Journaling to Reflect on things every now and then. But, I mostly Journal like a BA … just unabashed self talk, fearless and awesome … taking tough questions and big ideas and “Journaling” on them until the answer presents itself. Because it always does … every time. And I know Mr. T would approve.
Do you Journal like a BA?
If you do, I’d love to hear about your Journaling experiences in the Comments! What’s worked for you? Where have you struggled? Suggestions and ideas are welcome.
If not, I encourage you to try Journaling for the purpose of problem solving (I.e. Journaling like a BA!). Admittedly, the self-talk piece is a bit awkward at first (similar to talking to Siri or Alexa for the first time), but you get over it quick when you get results. It’s been a total game-changer for me … I am now confident that I have a tool (a weapon, actually) in my productivity belt that I can call on at will when I’ve got tough Qs and big ideas that I need to flush out.
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