Journaling is a great way to reflect on your day and plan for the future. While some people prefer to write in the morning, I believe that the best time to journal is at the end of the day. This allows you to capture your entire day's experience and helps you plan through reflection. In the morning, it's important to pay attention to your intentions for the day rather than keeping a diary.
Emergencies rarely appear first thing in the morning, so it's not the best use of your time. If you're struggling with depression or going through a difficult time, however, writing in the morning can be beneficial. Many people like to write first thing in the morning because they feel it helps them start their day well. Others prefer late at night because they can write about their day and clarify their thoughts before going to bed.
I personally altered my rules from the beginning and found keeping a diary a waste of time until I had four shots of espresso. As a result, my writing tends to be “a general diary” or exploration of a problem that corroded me the day before and that I have had the opportunity to sleep on. Yale psychologist Dr. Susan Nolen-Hoeksema suggests that handwriting forces you to focus on what's important.
There is conflicting research on what time of day is best for creativity, productivity, or emotional well-being, so ultimately it comes down to what works best for you and why you're keeping a journal. The idea is to simply write down whatever is on your mind without much thought or planning, so that you can harness the creativity of your mind before you “wake up with the anxieties of the day” which can hinder your creative flow. As you become more engaged in journaling and it becomes an act of desire rather than discipline, you can benefit from experimenting with different times of day. Starting your day with a focus on your well-being and personal growth reminds you of the importance of self-care.
If you're going to write in the morning, set aside a realistic amount of time it will take to do so.