Jamie Davis Writes


secret diary journal

Pages From a Secret Diary Journal: Tim Ferriss’s “Replacement Beliefs”

Confessions from the pages of a secret diary journal are pictured above.  

Looking back to last December, when I was reading Tim Ferriss’s “Tools of Titans,” and working the exercise that involved listing your current handicapping beliefs and then replacing them with 2-3 new beliefs. Such a powerful journaling exercise! It is oh so raw to share the handicapping beliefs, but I will. They were: 1. Afraid of cutting a certain project out of my life for fear of how I would replace the income. 2. I don’t know how to run a “real” business. 3. I’m not creative enough. 4. I’m not good enough at networking to be successful. 5. People are only going to want to buy things at such a low cost that it won’t even make sense to be in business. The replacement beliefs are pictured.

Such a raw, powerful exercise from Mr. Ferriss! 

This secret diary journal can be purchased here

Pages From a Secret Diary Journal: Daniel Pink’s “Don’t List”

Confessions from the pages of a secret diary journal are pictured below. We all have way too many things on our weekly “To Do” list. Why not take a lesson from Daniel Pink and start your week with a “Don’t List?!” What a wake-up call!

Recently, a morning journaling pages exercise was done with Daniel Pink’s “Don’t List” project. The exercise of making a “Don’t List” is very freeing. The “Don’t List” is a conscious reminder of what’s really important and what we can do to take back some control over our daily lives and work flow. 


Some favorites from the “Don’t List” pictured above included:

1. Don’t be in such a rush to start your day that you don’t start first by doing your morning journaling pages. 

2. Don’t be distracted by the phone while working. Turn the ringer off. Return calls only after you have met your top three work tasks for the day. 

3. Don’t take meetings when the purpose can be accomplished by having a short call instead. 

This secret diary journal can be purchased here. 

Keeping a Reading Journal

Keeping a Reading Journal

Do you keep a reading journal? I do! I am currently using one of our secret diary journals to keep track of all my book details. I do use Goodreads, but I know from experience that you can’t trust a third-party to keep your records (you never know when the company could decide to fold and all of your records could be lost) or manage your personal details, so I also keep a master spreadsheet of books I’ve read, along with a few notes, as well as a reading journal. 

Pictured below are some sample pages that I use in my indexed reading journal. I like to keep a written record of some book quotes that particularly strike me. This list is from Mark Haddon’s “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” I keep the index updated with the title of the book and date read or noted. If I REALLY loved something, I will also tab out the indexed reading journal so it stands out to me even faster when I go to search later. 


I also keep a list of anticipated book releases for the year, with space to highlight and note when I have pre-ordered. I just ordered Rachel Caine’s third installment of The Great Library Series, “Ash and Quill” this morning, and I am SUPER EXCITED ABOUT IT! The anticipated release date is July 11. Other books that I am eagerly awaiting for the rest of this year include: Sleeping Beauties (Stephen King and Owen King, expected release date: 9/26/17); Before the Devil Breaks You (Libba Bray, The Diviners #3, expected release date: 10/3/17); After the End of the World (Jonathan L. Howard, Carter & Lovecraft #2), expected release date: 11/14/17); and The Lost Plot (Genevieve Cogman, The Invisible Library #4, expected release date: 1/8/18).


I also manage and index a master list of “Must Reads” in my reading journal for the year, to keep better focused on what I for sure want to read for the year versus the Goodreads everything I ever marked to read list. I keep my working “must read” book list small, and will only update it once I have completed the 10 or so “must read” items. 


Lastly, I also keep a running list in my reading journal of books read for the year. I am already up to 50 for the year, and that’s about right for me. The picture below is the beginning of the list, and the items that I have highlighted are books that I particularly loved. I will also use highlighting on my master spreadsheet in case I want to go back and search that way to find authors I may want to research for composing other “must read” book lists! 


Yes, I am an obsessed (but highly organized) reader! And I love it. 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night-Time is Like Reading a Secret Diary Journal

Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night-Time is like reading Christopher John Francis Boone’s secret diary journal! Sometimes funny, although not meant to be; and sometimes heart-wrenching, this is a new generation’s Catcher in the Rye. I was already writing down quotes and indexing them in my reading journal by Page 3: “And now if I don’t know what someone is saying, I ask them what they mean or I walk away.”

Literary Characters Who Kept Journals: Paloma Josse and Renee Michel (See The Elegance of the Hedgehog)

The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery

Meet Paloma Josse, a twelve-year old affluent French girl who has decided to commit suicide before she reaches the age of thirteen because she is convinced that life has no meaning. Spoiler alert: the book has a tear-jerker ending, but not in the most obvious way that you might expect after reading the first sentence of this paragraph.

No, Paloma’s story is one of hope and redemption. A lesson in how to find the “always within never.”

The book switches perspectives from Paloma, who writes notes in her journal, to that of Renee Michel, the building’s concierge. I love the passage on Page 123 from Renee’s perspective that reads:  “What other reason might I have for writing this – ridiculous journal of an aging concierge – if the writing did not have something of the art of scything about it? …teaching me something that I neither knew nor thought I might want to know. This painless birth, like an unsolicited proof, gives me untold pleasure, and with neither toil nor certainty but the joy of frank astonishment I follow the pen that is guiding and supporting me.”

I loved how Paloma began writing her “Journal of the Movement of the World” as a way of recording beauty observed in her daily life. She began looking for a reason to live, and she found several reasons once she focused on that instead of getting lost in the nothing. Her “Profound Thoughts” obviously started off on the dark side, but she evolved. 

All in all, a powerful story of how just one or two people can change your life. And also, in a lot of ways, a story of how journaling can change a life. That may sound melodramatic to some of you.

However, if any of you, like Paloma, have ever been lost in the darkness; stuck in the never without an always; then you know. It isn’t just paper. It’s your redemption. It’s what you have. It is the tool that helps you find a reason, and then hopefully several reasons. 

Pictured with the book is The Fantastic Magician of Us, one of our Secret Diary Journals. Each indexed book journal features 186 pages that are ruled and numbered for your ease of use. The numbered pages with an index will help keep you organized and make it easy to find your important entries. To really make your brain sing, we recommend that you use tabs and update your book journal’s index as necessary immediately after you have completed your journaling.  

Secret Diary Journals are hardcover ruled notebooks made to resemble hardcover books that can easily be shelved in your living room or sit on a table at a coffee house without screaming: “I am a personal journal and I contain private thoughts. Pick me up and snoop!” Secret Diary Journals are designed to help you maintain your privacy when keeping your personal notes. 

Benefits of Daily Journaling and Indexing: You’re A-Z Guide

Archive your life 

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” — Benjamin Franklin

Important things are happening. You are thinking and doing important things. Your future self will want to remember them! Indexing your daily journal or daily diary is the best way to ensure you can find your important notes later. In addition to indexing, use tabs to mark the entries of utmost importance.

Be a Better Communicator

Writing forces you to express yourself in clear and concrete terms that will help you in your personal and business relationships. The practice can help you slice through unnecessary details and give you the confidence you’ll need to quickly get to the crux of the matter in any situation.


Your journal is your safe space to try out new ideas without having to get approval from another person. Throw things out and see what sticks. Maybe you want to brainstorm new business ideas or just write about the book you are reading. Maybe you wake up and just feel like drawing different colored shapes with markers. Do it! See James Altucher’s piece on 10 ideas per day ( to get those juices flowing! Then, index your good ideas in your daily journal so you can easily reference them later. Indexing your daily journal after you make your relevant entries will no doubt serve you well later.

Declutter Your Mind

Do your three pages of writing every morning and get everything out of your mind. Those negative thoughts — you know the ones. The thoughts that nag away at you and pull at you from the time your feet hit the floor in the morning. Let them out. Write a “brain dump.” When that’s done, write about reflections from the previous day or write down your priorities for today. The point is, your mind is just like your house. How can you think clearly if you have random clutter all over your house? The answer is that you can’t. Get it together. Write it down and index it in your daily journal!

Emotional Intelligence

Writing in a daily journal can help you become more self-aware, which will help you develop a knowing of what is right for you. It can help you become in tune with situations and “feel” if something is off with another person or a situation. Developing emotional intelligence will also help you interact better with other people because you will also be more understanding and aware of other people’s needs and wants. (See   


What you focus on, you will become. Absent that, the daily habit of journaling will enforce a sense of discipline into your life. A daily writing practice will help you focus and train your mind to perform when you tell it to work. Try it. Just free flow write for a few pages every morning and see if you notice any epiphanies or changes within three weeks of beginning your morning journaling practice.  

Take it from Scott Adams, speaking on daily affirmations as part of the journaling process, and as quoted on page 265 of Tim Ferriss’s “Tools of Titans:” — “All you do is you pick a goal and you write it down 15 times a day in some specific sentence form, like, ‘I, Scott Adams, will become an astronaut,’ for example. And you do that every day. Then it will seem as if the universe just starts spitting up opportunities. It will look to you like these are coincidences, and whether they are or not is less relevant than the fact that they seem to pop up.”


Using a daily journal for goal-setting purposes and to help you focus go hand in hand!


Many doctors have linked keeping a daily journal to decreased levels of stress and anxiety. What’s more, dieters who keep a food journal have been known to double their weight loss efforts! (See 

Identify Patterns 

When you finish one of your journals, that is the perfect time to go back and make sure everything has been indexed properly for future use. It also the perfect time to go back and read your thoughts so you can identify patterns. If they are self-destructive habits, now you know what you have to do to break those bad patterns! You will also make important connections too, though, in the sense of being able to look back and connect the dots as in “Oh wow, I did x, y, and that’s why/how I got to z.” Identifying patterns is the ability to go backwards in time and find the secret sauce as far as the key factors that were critical in building your successes. This is such an important insight for your progress. 


Incorporating a journaling practice into your daily habits has been known to play a big role in bringing more joy and gratitude into people’s lives.  


Are you a perpetual list maker? Keep your daily to-do items all in one place. All of your journaling friends know that there is nothing quite as satisfying as checking something off that list! Dismissing a task on the computer just doesn’t feel as good for some reason. Use a dedicated journal to keep track of all of your lists. Don’t forget to index the important ones at the back of your book! Examples may include: books read; places visited; favorite restaurants; and workouts completed.


The physical act of writing has been known to activate memory. (See For those recovering from a brain injury, daily journaling is often employed as a mechanism to help aid in memory recovery. It is also used as a tool to help seniors stay sharp.


Writing to reflect upon the good old days is another method that has been known to be linked to increasing joy and gratitude. And what better way than waxing nostalgic is there to further your legacy? Parents/husbands and wives: We urge you to leave a legacy book behind!


Keeping a daily diary or a daily journal will help you keep your life organized. Yes, our electronic calendars are great, and we love them, but sometimes you just need to take physical notes during a meeting or while you are traveling. Keep all your notes in one journal until the book is full, and index it properly, and your life will be much more organized and your brain will start operating more efficiently by default. We dare you to defy us!


We can’t be 100% sure, but we would like to believe that the CIA aka Facebook/Google haven’t found a way to activate video or audio listening devices into our journals yet from the factory where they are built (in Michigan, by the way, not China). Just saying. 


Have some? Write them down. Tab them, clear them out later. Index them with your answers. Free flow daily writing can help you resolve those pesky questions. An example of one of our favorite “pesky” questions would probably be “What am I doing with my life?!”

Reid Hoffman (co-founder and executive chairman of LinkedIn) has been known for writing down problems in his notebook that he wants his mind to work on overnight.

“Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.” — Thomas Edison  


Those working on overcoming addictions have been known to benefit from utilizing a daily journaling practice. (See


We could all use more “me” time and a little less stress in our busy daily lives. One of our favorite recent journaling exercises was completing Daniel Pink’s “Don’t List” exercise. Instead of getting bogged down in a busy for the sake of being busy trap type of to do list, you make a list of the things you don’t do anymore. It helps you focus on what’s most important everyday. One of our golden rules of productivity is to not take calls while we are working or answer emails first thing in the morning. Don’t! These are just distractions that suck up your best productive morning energy!


Many therapists have been known to recommend a daily journaling practice to their patients who are dealing with grief and loss. (See


Yes. A daily journaling practice can enhance your understanding of yourself, the people around you, and the entire universe. Yes.

Vocational Advancement

Keeping a work journal can help you keep track of your priorities at work, and provide proof of your progress. Consider marking educational achievements; accomplishments that you are most proud of; and new contacts that you’ve made in your industry this year.

Whine Without Consequence

Have you ever had a friend who called you just to whine and moan? Have you ever been that friend? Unfortunately, we have all either been that guy or know that guy. And if the offending person would have just kept a journal instead of using his friend as a sounding board, everything would have worked out better for both parties. Keeping a daily journal for griping is a way to whine without consequence!   


This is a fear of being close to or touching sharp objects. Don’t worry, though. Your journal is good for helping you work through all of your fears and handicapping beliefs. Whether it is Arachnophobia; Ophidiophobia; Acrophobia; Agoraphobia; or Cynophobia, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center, journaling can help you manage your anxiety and fear. (See

Yelling Without Noise

Write in all caps in your daily journal. No one can hear you. You probably won’t get arrested for disturbing the peace.  


Check out Rick Steves on “The Art of Journaling.” We particularly love his comment about the bound journal becoming a classic on your bookshelf! Go and sit somewhere. Write what you see and feel. Travel. Write. Index. Buy Stealth Journals. Repeat.


Morning Journaling. Epiphanies Brought Forth from “Tools of Titans,” by Tim Ferriss

If I had to guess, I would say I started my first journal around the age of eleven or twelve. Even back then, I made lists, set goals, and perhaps dabbled in a bit of creative writing. But never, ever, have I been the type of dedicated person who free flowed journaled on a daily schedule. Sure, I keep a journal every day to jot/list/otherwise pontificate as the need arises, but I could never make the claim that I sat down and wrote daily for 20-30 minutes EVERY SINGLE MORNING until the last week of December 2016.

I had been reading Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss and the book was blowing my mind with all of the entries and tips about journaling. “Journaling?” I thought to myself. “I thought this was supposed to be a business book.” Oh, but it is, Grasshopper. It is.  

Must-read sections about journaling/writing guaranteed to make your life better: P. 225 – 231; P. 247 – 249; P. 265; P. 569; P. 583 – 585; and P. 614. You’re welcome. 

The biggest game changers for me were writing down my daily affirmations fifteen times, and writing three free flow pages of handwritten words every morning. When I started the daily free flow brain dump writing exercise, I thought it was just going to be a bunch of new-agey guru type of stuff and I went into it willing, but maybe with a little bit of an “I don’t have time for this crap right now” kind of attitude. Man, was I ever wrong about that. The third week in to the exercise, I had a major epiphany and started making some serious cuts and changes to my life that led to other (and better) things. You don’t find time. You make time. 

Lots of post-its! 
Lots of post-its! 

After about 60 days in to the practice of writing the dedicated morning journaling pages, I decided to try writing at night before bed to see if there would be any changes. I wanted the exercise to work better at night, but it just didn’t work for me. After a day of working on the computer, my wrist was too tired and battered to sustain the three handwritten pages. Also, too many times I found myself just too exhausted by my daily work load to write and think even more right before bed! 

The morning journal pages aren’t pretty. Oftentimes, they are complete nonsense, and maybe I might spend an entire paragraph just writing down song lyrics. After a few months of doing the practice, the point of the exercise for me is to create some slack in my mind and ease the sense of pressure I tend to feel when I wake up to hurry and get things done. I still feel like everyday can turn into a contest of how many tasks I can complete if I’m not careful. I don’t want to rush into my day trying to win a race against time at work anymore.  

The morning journaling pages coupled with my daily affirmations helps me fight monkey mind, dump negative thoughts, and try to get my mind in the zone and prep my subconscious to recognize opportunities with others that match my intentions. The exercise for me is probably the closest I will ever get to finding a way to meditate and to reach a higher vibration or pure soul level. I’m trying. I’m not floating off the bed yet, but I am getting better at life, I think. My life is better when I make the time after waking to write the morning journaling pages. The pages referenced above do a much better job than I have done at explaining why.  

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