The 4-Journal approach not only helps to categorize your thoughts, but also creates changes in your neural chemistry and reshapes your neural pathways. Organizing and maintaining a clean brain through systematic journaling leads to greater clarity, more confidence, more focus, and a calmer nervous system.
The overall goal in this system is to take the neuro-chemical messiness of your brain and begin to organize and create chemicals consciously. For the journals, I really like the Miquelrus Brand (Miquelrius). They offer 100, 200, 300 and 400 pages lined, graph or plain paper journals. It’s nice to have them all look the same besides their color and thickness.
1. The Daily Journal
Neural Purpose: Trains your neuro-chemistry for focus/creativity.
The chemistry and neural pathways of multi-tasking are very different from the chemistry and neural pathways of focus and creativity (Psychology Today: Creativity and Neurochemistry) . Having this journal by your side allows you to efficiently stay focused while not losing important information. In this notebook, you’ll jot down material that is superficial-not in it’s depth, the information could have profound insight- but in how quickly this information lands/takes off in your mind. The Daily Journal is the place you keep all your notes, quick ideas, work projects, notes for the doctor, phone numbers, interesting facts, the information which might otherwise find itself on a sticky note. It also should include seeds of writing you will bring into the other three journals. It is best to have the Daily Journal, the thickest of the four journals at your workspace. I use the 300-page softbound graph paper Miquelrius(300 page softbound graph). The graph lines invite drawing ideas rather than writing everything out. If you were using this journal system right now, you’d write down the name Miquelrius rather than clicking on the link and creating a different “browsing” neural pathway as you visit the notebook link. Allow this notebook to be messy and disorganized knowing you can flip back and find what you need.
2. The To-Do Journal
Neural Purpose: Trains your neuro-chemistry for healthier sleep
Precisely as it is named, this is a list of your to-do’s. BUT, this is the journal you use at the end of your day, not at the beginning.There is a cocktail of chemicals which must be created for healthy sleep. Having your brain looping and creating the chemicals for doing/action right before bed creates an entirely different cocktail of chemicals-it is literally adding an upper to a downer. (NIH: Stress and Sleep) The To-do Journal is where you flush your brain of everything you already know you need to do the following day. Moving this information from your head into this journal will allow your mind to clear itself before bedtime.
Once you write everything down in the to-do journal, you release the thoughts creating action chemicals and allow the sleep chemicals to move through your bloodstream with less competition. The other compelling reason for this journal is the following morning you don’t need to move immediately to your screen. You’ve got your list, and you can start your day without logging on to look at your digital to-do tracker. I do have a digital list keeper called Things 3 (Things 3) which I transfer my work to-do’s into when I boot up my computer, but this night-time to-do journal helps to eleviate the chemical stress of tomorrow. I use the lined Miquelrius 100-page journal (100-page lined softbound)
3. The Apology Journal
Purpose: Trains your neuro-chemistry for healthier psychology.
This journal categorizes the emotional-psychological mess in our brains. Using this journal, you’ll be able to capture and clear the unconscious parts of your psyche which you are projecting onto others. When we project, especially from a place of trauma, we continue to produce trauma chemicals in our brain. Clearing our projections bring us to greater integration and wipes the chemistry of trauma from our bodies (NIH: Trauma and Neurochemistry). To use this journal, you’ve got to allow yourself the temporary right to blame everyone else for all your problems. Remember, T-E-M-P-O-R-A-R-Y. Yes, it can be fun to drop into victim once in a while, but do it consciously.
Once you are well into that victim state, use the Apology Journal to write a letter of apology to yourself from whomever has “victimized” you. You write it exactly as you want to hear it, with all the contrition you wish to receive. And then you sign it from the perceived perpetrator. After you finish the apology letter, you change the signature name from the perceived perpetrator to your name. It is now a letter from YOU to YOURSELF, which is the correct direction of these projected behaviors. I use the 100-page lined Miquelrius softbound journal for this one too.
4. The Diary Journal
Purpose: Trains your neuro-chemistry for greater personal presence.
The Diary Journal is daily writing of what is going on in your life, the day-to-day emotional and factual information. This journal writing is cathartic as well as useful. It allows your brain to spend time releasing presence-neurochemicals. Presence-neurochemicals are the neuro-chemicals produced by your nervous system when you are grounded and embodied only within yourself, only for yourself, only connected to yourself (NIH: Neurochemistry of Emotional Embodiment). These chemicals are incredibly crucial for your mental, physical, and emotional health. They are the neurochemicals that allow for exceptional clarity, and we all need more of this cocktail running through our bloodstream. I use a thin Miquelrius (100-page lined softbound) journal.
The Goal of The 4-Journal System
The purpose of these journals is to consciously invoke specific chemicals into your physiology. By doing this, you change your neural pathways and create a calm centered-within-yourself experience.