Regular readers know that I'm a big fan of reflective practice--one of the greatest values of blogging for me has been that it's created a forum for me to regularly think about what I do and how I do it. But most people aren't ready to make that kind of time commitment so here's something that I think might be a perfect way to encourage reflection in the shortest time possible: the one sentence journal, a great idea from blogger Gretchen Rubin.
Two years ago, I started keeping a one-sentence journal because I knew I would never be able to keep a proper journal with lengthy entries. I just don't have the time or energy to write a long entry - even two or three times a week. . .
I like keeping a one-sentence journal because it's a manageable task, so it doesn't make me feel burdened; it gives me a feeling of accomplishment and progress, the atmosphere of growth so important to happiness; it helps keep happy memories vivid (because I'm much more inclined to write about happy events than unhappy events), which boosts my happiness; and it gives me a reason to pause thinking lovingly about the members of my family.
One thing is true: we tend to overestimate what we can do in the short term, and underestimate what we can do in the long term, if we do a little bit at a time. Writing one sentence a day sounds fairly easy, and it is; at the end of the year, it adds up to a marvelous record.
Gretchen's journal is more personal, part of her larger Happiness Project, but picture one sentence journals reflecting on:
- Your career and professional growth
- What you learned today
- The progress of a particular project
- Your progress in achieving a specific goal
- Advice you've received from other people
- Questions you have about . . . anything!
Each of these topics lends itself to this one-sentence concept and building the daily habit of thinking about what you do and what is happening in various aspects of your life.
Technology is a perfect tool for supporting this process, too. You could:
- Post your one sentence journal reflection on your blog if you already have one. Be sure to create a tag for "one sentence journal" reflections so that you can easily look at them later.
- Set up a Tumblr microblog specifically for your one sentence entries. Tumblr's group capabilities mean that you could also set this up as a team blog where each member of a team was posting his/her one-sentence reflection or idea for others to see. If you go the team route, you could also set up a wiki to gather everyone's reflections.
- Twitter your one sentence. It's another way to share with a group and also ensure that you keep your entries short--no more than 140 characters.
- Email your daily entries to yourself and store them in a special folder where you can review them regularly--weekly, monthly, quarterly.
- Use it as your Facebook status update.
If these ideas are too boring for you, try getting all multimedia with it by recording a 1-sentence video that you upload to Youtube. You could even go crazy and make it a 1-minute journal entry! Or write your one sentence, take a picture and upload to Flickr where you could use the tagging feature to create a 1-sentence library. Or take a picture of something that summarizes your one-sentence and use Flickr's captions to write your sentence. The possibilities with something like this are pretty endless and within there must be something that appeals.
This is one of those relatively quick and easy things that anyone can do to start 1) playing with technology and 2) getting in the reflection habit. Who knows where it could take you?