Tracy Winchell

Self-awareness is not all-consuming. It is a 🧰 for a reasonably happy life.

published3 months ago
2 min read

Hey Reader,

We must dedicate our lives to the pursuit of self is a load of hooey!

What's the point of finding "self" (whatever that means) if we don't enjoy oiur lives and share ourselves with others?

Today we combine a pair of atomic prompts to a constraints framework on the way to a quick, impactful practice of self-reflection.

Advice 3: Build your own atomic self-reflection practice.

Remember our friend Jamie from our first email in this series?

Creating a space labeled "journaling" had no effect on their ability to implement a self-reflection practice.


The prompt was too broad.

"Journaling" inside Jamie's daily notes page offers zero cues.

Overwhelm paralyzed the process before it ever began.

Whether Jamie knew it or not, they lacked clarity.

  • What do I write about?
  • Takes too long. No time today.
  • How will I know when I'm finished?
  • Why am I doing this? To what end?

This is why an essential step in constructing your atomic practice is defining and experimenting with constraints.

3 constraints you can employ as forcing functions that help you journal more consistently.

Set a timer

Leverage Pomodoro timers in your vault.
Pomodoro timers are native to Roam. Obsidian and LogSeq Pomodoros are available through plug-ins.

Keep it silly simple.
In my experience, TfT Pomodoro timers are way too polite. I rarely hear the sweet "ding" telling me my time is up.

I use an obnoxious sound from my phone's timer. Sometimes a kitchen timer works for me. Occasionally, I will invoke Alexa's name to set a timer.

Reduce the friction of dread.
Keeping to a time constraint makes it easier for you to log an entry day after day. You are providing evidence to you Future Self that self-awareness is quick and can be relatively painless.

You'll be surprised at how much introspection, reflection, and revelation you can experience in 10 - 20 minutes a day for 30 days.

Set a word- or page-count limitation.

Set a minimum word count.
Don't like fiddling with time gadgets?

Are the first words from your brain to your fingertips hard to come by?

Start with 50 words. Then, perhaps, expand to 250-ish. This is useful if you prefer freewriting versus prompts.

Set up a short prompt stack.

Stacks are what I call groupings of prompts.
A stack wiill present a different thought process than if each prompt is a standalone.

A pairing of prompts is more specific than "Journal" and looks a lot less intimidating on your daily notes page, telling your brain that closing the loop on this single stack will be simple.


Choose one of the following algorithms to practice for the next 7 days.

Screenshots are from my personal graph.

Shaking out the dread & exposing conflict

  • What am I looking forward to today?
  • What am I dreading today? Why?

What I control today

  • What do I NOT control today?
  • What DO I control today (or right now)

Let's talk about your progress (or lack thereof) during our office hours.

Weekly office hours accompany this series.

Previous installments of this series

PART 1: Introducing 5 Steps to Help You Build a Functional Self-Awareness System

PART 2: Adjusting Your Expectations

PART 3: Semantic Goldmines: Reflections that only happen in a digital environment