Journaling is a great way for me to keep myself on track and organized, relieve stress, and express myself. Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a certain fascination with journals and notebooks. When I was little, as soon as I got my allowance I’d head to the store to spend it on a new book of blank lined pages, waiting to be filled. I got excited every September to go shopping for school supplies and stationery (let’s be honest – I still do!) I loved the idea of expressing myself through writing and being organized.
But for all that I loved buying and having notebooks, I had so much trouble keeping up with writing in them regularly. I’d do it for a straight week and then forget about it for months. When I finally opened up the pages to continue, I’d want to start over and so I’d rip out the pages I’d already written in.
This cycle continued up until maybe a year or so ago, when I finally found a journaling system that works for me. My solution was to separate my notebooks into four categories: one for my schedule, an all-purpose one for note-taking and learning, one for random things like errands and grocery lists, and a personal journal. This might seem like overkill (and not very minimalist), but I find it totally works for me and has allowed me to keep up my writing for longer than I ever have before. So today I wanted to share with you how I organize my four journals and what journaling exercises I do, in case you’ve experienced a similar struggle and want to try something new to get into it.
I use a weekly planner to keep track of my schedule and stay organized.
It’s a little oldschool I know, but I still prefer to keep track of my schedule with pen and paper. My 2017 planner is by Fringe Studio and it’s perfect for what I use it for. Each month has a monthly overview so I can see a quick snapshot of everything I have coming up. Then each week is broken out over two pages so I can get a little more detailed. I keep track of everything from events and birthdays, work deliverables, and personal milestones.
I also set due dates for my own goals, such as blog posts and workouts, and to-do’s for the weekends. (Confession: sometimes I’ll even write down a task I’ve already completed, just so I can cross it off – this is how much I like to-do lists.) Plus, it’s so pretty that it encourages me to keep up with it and stay on track! I purchased this one for a steal at Winners but they also have a good selection online at Nordstrom.
I keep a notebook to record what I learn from podcasts and webinars so that I can revisit the key points anytime.
I’ve gotten really into listening to podcasts recently, mainly of the self-improvement variety. I also listen to webinars every now and then that give advice on blogging and running an online business. I don’t want to just listen to them and then forget everything I learned, so I’ll take some notes while I’m at it that I can read over later on and go back to when I need to. This is part me wanting to actually put what I learn to use, and part me just being a dork who loves taking notes.
This super-cute notebook is by Clementine Paper Inc and I also picked it up at Winners. It has a lot of pages so it will keep me a long time, and I love that it’s hardcover but also kind of bendy – and it stays open on its own without me having to hold it! Jason always laughs at me but honestly, there’s something about finding a notebook that just ‘feels perfect’. (Okay, I’ll stop geeking out over the stationery now.)
My multi-purpose notebook is great for toting around and jotting down random things like errands, to-do’s, and groceries.
This is just a general notebook that I use for anything that doesn’t fit in my other books. If I need to bring a notebook anywhere I’ll take this one; its thin and light so it’s super portable. I just use it whenever I need to really. Flipping through some of the pages, I’ve taken down grocery lists, errands and to-do’s, quotes, random things I want to purchase, book titles, and blog post ideas, to name a few. It’s just really handy to have, and instead of keeping bits of paper scattered around, having a general notebook keeps it all tidy and in one place. The one I have is a large soft cover notebook from Moleskine, and it retails for $24 . These are a little bit on the pricey side because of the brand name, but I have to say it is high-quality and the simple design is pretty close to perfect.
Thoughts, feelings, reflections, goals, and other journaling exercises go in my personal diary.
Finally, I have a personal diary that I keep beside my bed. This is the one I struggle with keeping up the most, but also that I find to be the most beneficial. I try to write either right before I go to bed to clear my mind, or else first thing when I wake up to take down ideas or dreams. I don’t really write down my day-to-day happenings, which would probably be the more traditional kind of diary. For the most part I do exercises that help me de-stress or work towards personal development. This notebook is by Kate Spade and I love what it says on the front: “It’s what’s inside that counts.”
My Journaling Exercises
Some of the exercises I try to do on a regular basis include:
- Free writing: Writing down whatever comes to mind spontaneously without stopping for about three minutes. This is great for generating creativity and inspiration, as well as accessing more subconscious thoughts or feelings that I might be holding back.
- Morning pages: This is similar to free writing, but done first thing in the morning. I find that this helps me clear my mind for the day ahead, sort of like meditating. It also helps me generate ideas and stay motivated for the day ahead. For more about morning pages, take a look at this video from Julia Cameron.
- Dream journal: If I have a particularly vivid dream, I’ll try to write down what I can remember when I first wake up. Sometimes doing this helps me understand what I might be feeling that caused me to dream about something in particular.
- Goal setting: Recently I listened to a great podcast on how to set goals, and one of the most important things was to write them down. I write down lists of both long- and short-term goals, and then pick one to focus on that I write out a detailed action plan and schedule for. This really helps activate me towards a particular goal and removes a lot of barriers that otherwise would stop me from taking steps towards it.
- Gratitude: The last thing I like to do is write down a few things a day that I’m grateful for. This just helps to keep me positive and focused on what I have in my life that makes me happy. Just writing down three things a day might seem small, but it has a seriously big impact in terms of cultivating positivity and happiness in my day-to-day life.
As for where I get my journals and notebooks, I find a lot of them at Winners – they often have a really good selection of cute notebooks for way less than you’ll find anywhere else. Indigo also has a great (albeit more pricey) selection; I would so go for this watercolor floral one if I needed a new one!
So that’s it for how I organize my journals and the exercises I do. I’d love to hear what journaling tips or exercises you have that help you stay organized and brimming with positivity!
Until next time,
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Cover photo by Teresa Kluge on Unsplash