Journaling is something that most people have done at some point in time. Whether you hid a locked diary in your room as a kid or worked in a day planner over the years, journaling has likely held space for your ideas and thoughts. In this post I’d like to talk not so much about how you’d journal – be it digitally or on paper – but rather share some journaling ideas and reasons why you might want to record your life and thoughts in a journal. Let’s look at what benefits you might find in different types of journaling and why it can be helpful for so many facets of our day to day lives – especially when used in tandem with other mental health practices.
Art Journaling –
Having a space to create visual journaling can be very helpful as sometimes, ideas are difficult to put into words. An art journal can be a place to explore, play or express things you don’t even know require expression. Art journals can be informal and messy – no need to worry about sharing it on social media or producing a masterpiece. Instead, the focus of your art journal should be exploration. Use materials that facilitate expression and are easy to use so that you spend less time thinking about technique and more time putting something together. Art journals are perfect places to use markers, crayons, glue, torn paper, poster paints or other quick drying paint, stickers, patterned tapes, and so on.
You can write in an art journal though it is not required. Sometimes a headline torn from a magazine article will say all you wish to say or, you can write something then layer over it, transforming the thought into something new. Chronicling your visual self expressions over time can provide insight to changes in our lives we may not see as we live them. Art Journaling is quite therapeutic, especially for those who may struggle to express themselves in the written or spoken word.
Gratitude Journaling –
Studies show that those who develop a habit of gratitude journaling can experience some freedom from the negative thoughts that can often bring us down. It’s also been shown that those who experience more gratitude, tend to try to pay it forward with higher levels of generosity. Practicing gratitude isn’t just helpful for those who do it, but it’s helpful for those who interact with that person as well! Gratitude journaling doesn’t have to be a daily practice although, I try to at least think of something I’m grateful for every day – even if I don’t record it. Your journal can be a simple notebook where you jot down a few lines here and there as you search out things you’re grateful for in your life or you can incorporate this type of journaling into another journal practice you do regularly such as a bullet journal. Gratitude journaling is a straight forward practice that can help develop the habit of daily journaling if that’s something you wish to work toward.
Bullet Journaling –
Bullet journaling is something I discovered a few years ago and though I have changed up my methods over time, I do feel that this is an indispensable productivity tool that I will continue to use – maybe forever. At it’s heart, bullet journaling is a customizable tool. Use it to keep track of tasks and important dates like a day timer, use it to keep track of the books you’ve read – or wish to read. Use a bullet journal to plan out long term projects. The beauty of it is that it can be whatever you wish it to be. You can make it aesthetically pleasing and design each spread or you can make it minimalistic. It can be the one journal you use daily to keep you on task and you can incorporate pretty well all of the journals on this list into one bullet journal. The sky’s the limit but sometimes putting everything in one place dilutes the usefulness of the tool as I have discovered. I prefer to put my art in an art journal and daily planning in a bullet journal but that’s just what works best for me.
1 line Journal –
I started a 1 line journal for 2021 as I am often finding there isn’t much to write about on a daily basis yet there are things I wish to keep track of, if only for memory keeping. Technically it’s more of a diary than a journal. The idea is simple, write 1 line per day – every day. I have a small notebook for this and much like a tweet, keeping every day’s entry to one concise line can be a challenge, but it also really focuses you to record the most important or notable thing of the day. This type of journaling could also be incorporated into a bullet journal but I find it’s the perfect activity for that super pretty notebook you bought 2 years ago but have never used. You know the one. You can do more than one year in a single book – just use it, one day at a time until it is full. If you miss a day, fill it in later or just leave the line blank.
Junk Journaling –
Junk journaling is the new scrapbooking of old. The idea is to use up all the ‘junk’ you have lying around to make a book. Entries can be hidden decoratively behind flaps or inside envelopes. Junk journals can be a mish-mosh of art journaling, collaging, scrap booking, and photo albums. Really, this type of journal can be whatever you want it to be and the things you keep inside it can be from the most precious of family photographs to a candy wrapper from a sweet you bought on vacation. I enjoy this sort of journaling however, I do feel it can be overwhelming and that the act of making the book beautiful can take precedence over what you write inside it. For many, that’s the point. It’s a tactile and visually stimulating form of journaling that allows memory keeping of items that might not traditionally end up in a journal – like a scraps of fabric or packaging.
Hobby Journaling –
Having subject specific journals can be very useful to document something you might work on now and then over time. You could have a journal for the upkeep and care of your plant collection or for recipes you are developing or even for practicing things like hand lettering or another language. Hobby journals are a fantastic way to lay out what happened when (how long has it been since I repotted the string of hearts?) or list items you might need to collect or write out a step by step to-do list. Depending on your hobby, you might journal your ideas often, or only seasonally. Either way, it’s valuable.
Collections Journaling –
Before the days of Pinterest, internet bookmarks, and accessible libraries even, people used to keep what is known as a ‘Commonplace Book.’ Commonplace books were essentially a place to keep things they wanted to be able to reference again later. They might scribble down a recipe or a poem they wished to memorize. They might paste something from a newspaper or record a newly learned fact they did not want to forget. I don’t know about you but my Pinterest boards are out of control and my bookmarks are stuffed. Favourite recipes can be easily lost and I have found myself going analog with the ones we want to keep and pass down. You could use a collections journal for so many purposes. Aside from our family recipe journal I keep another that is currently keeping track of the books I read as well as dinner ideas because sometimes I can’t think of anything at all. I also keep a log of when I begin and finish projects because I do tend to drag things on and on otherwise and this can help me prioritize say – cleaning out the garage over painting the laundry room if I started on the garage three months ago and it still isn’t finished. If you have a notebook you use to capture random thoughts and notes – congratulations, you already have a collections journal.
Daily Journaling –
What is the difference between a journal and a diary? The term diary is used to describe a book that records memories and events after they happened. Dear diary, today we went to the fair… A journal tends to be a space to look ahead, plan and explore. The lines get pretty grey in most journaling practices as often one book is used to do both and there’s nothing wrong with that. It can be difficult and ill advised to look forwards without having first peered into the past. Whether you sit down at the end of the day and pour out your thoughts and feelings to clear your head before sleep or prefer to write morning pages, daily journaling has many benefits. Clearing the noise in one’s head and putting it on paper gives space and breath to carry forward with other things.
Vision Journaling –
You’ve no doubt heard of a vision board. They’re popular things to do at new years when you start to put a sense of what you want for your year out into the space you occupy. Essentially a vision board is a collection of images or quotes that inspire, guide and clarify ethereal concepts. A vision journal is the same, but longer term and with the ability to morph and grow over time. I keep a vision journal for my art practice that highlights artists I admire. I annotate what I enjoy about their work and as new inspiration hits me, I do my best to capture it in my journal. Entrepreneurs often keep vision journals about their business or branding goals. This type of journaling is a wonderful way to try to capture the feel of something that isn’t easy to put into words.
Project Journaling –
I love to do project journaling in my bullet journal but if you had a large, ongoing project it might be best to use a separate book for it. If you’re a visual person like I am, laying out ideas on paper solidifies a project in a way that no digital project management system can. Keep track of to-do lists, deadlines and finances all in one space. Leave room for thinking on paper and brainstorming to capture every spark of inspiration. I’m currently planning our back yard landscaping so I am journaling ideas and information about the landscaper we’ve chosen, the money matters and budget, plants I am going to research for hardiness and on and on. Project journaling and hobby journaling can be fairly similar however projects usually have narrow timelines while hobby journals can stretch on and on.
Phew! You can do a lot with these 10 types of journals to capture ideas, dreams, and goals. If you haven’t journaled in a long time I would suggest you take a look at this list and pick one that might make the most sense for your daily life. Setting out to do morning pages for example might be a bit much if a 1 line might be an easier way to dip your toe in the pool. If you’re an experienced journaler I hope this list gives you some ideas on how to expand your practice. If you’re stuck for journaling ideas then maybe try journaling prompts. Maybe it’s time to take art out of your bullet journal and give it it’s own space. Best of luck with however you journal because I think adding any one of these journaling ideas to your life can make a big impact with little effort.