Journals serve a multitude of functions, from preserving our most precious memories to tracking goals and managing various aspects of our daily lives. The benefits of journaling stem from the fact that writing about any subject requires conscious observation and reflection. This simple activity is especially rewarding when used as an outlet to experiment or as a self-improvement tool. While you can have a journal for any area you want to manage in your life, here is a list of them you may want to explore.
1. Family Journals
I know of parents who keep a separate journal for each child and gift it to them when they’re older. When my firstborn came along, I had the intention of doing just that but taking care of a little human put memory-keeping on the backburner.
A simpler, more satisfying solution to this was a family journal. Our family journals contain a collection of significant family events, funny quotes from the children (and adults!), ephemera from our little adventures and lots of photos. Granted most of it is from my perspective, but as the stories are all about our shenanigans, they do not disappoint. Contributions of notes and pieces of art from our kids all help to cement the little moments of family life frequently lost in the commotion of the daily one.
2. Travel Journals
Travel journals have become one of the most popular journals to keep and understandably so. No travel adventure is complete without some sort of souvenir or record to remind us of our unique experiences. These journals help make vivid the details of what would otherwise be faded memories.
Whether you decide to keep a different journal for each destination or journals with multiple adventures inside, get started the moment you book your trip. You can write down wish lists of places to visit and things you look forward to experiencing. Travel tickets, entry tickets, brochures and postcards are only some of the items you will collect along the way. Don’t forget to also pick up maps and interesting ephemera from each of the places you visit. All these make wonderful reminders and can be housed safely in your travel journal when you return. Paired with detailed descriptions on the places, food and activities you did and you have yourself a wonderful keepsake to look back on in the future.
3. Gratitude Journals
Many positive events happen to us as we go through our day, but are quickly forgotten or sometimes, even go unnoticed. For this reason, keeping a gratitude journal can be an uplifting experience as you pause and identify things you can be grateful for. Gratitude lists are known to be so impactful that space is frequently reserved for them in other types of journals and planners. If you only have space for one journal in your life, let it be this one. It is a relaxing and simple practice, taking only a few minutes of your time each evening, yet its positive effects on your overall well-being become apparent almost immediately.
In each entry, list down 5 good things you experience through your day. Record little triumphs and simple joys in specific detail and explain why they made you happy. By training your mind to focus on the good in everything, you gain new perspective on what is important to you and what you truly appreciate in your life. Make it a daily habit and watch your spirit soar!
4. Interest and Hobby Journals
Do you have a green thumb? Are you an avid reader or love cooking? Whatever your interests may be, a hobby journal will help you store all the pertinent information in one place for easy referral. Gardening journals are an example of this. In them, you can keep notes on the plants you grow, their water and soil preferences, your seed catalogue and that wonderful organic pest concoction you just learnt about. Recipe journals are great for chronicling recipes you’ve tried, while fitness and health journals track your journey to a healthier you. Some hobbies and interests turn into passions over the years and documenting these chapters will remind you of your growth, achievements and how far you’ve come.
5. Bullet Journals
Mainly used to plan and prioritize your goals, bullet journals track and break each goal down to manageable steps, allowing you to more efficiently utilize your time to reach each one. While there are many digital alternatives, a paper based planner is able to give you an all-in-one bird’s eye view of your work commitments, family responsibilities, social life and goals. These journals are highly customizable to your requirements and lifestyle. You can incorporate gratitude spreads, trackers for hobbies and so much more. If you feel overwhelmed with tasks and expectations, a bullet journal will help put everything in perspective and allow you to tackle each one with peace of mind.
6. Idea Journals
Ideas are fleeting and some of the best ones appear out of the blue. An idea journal kept close at hand can capture these bursts of unexpected genius and make sure you don’t lose any of them. There’s nothing worse than coming up with a brilliant idea in the middle of a party, a phone conversation or while trying to fall asleep, and having nowhere to note it down. Putting your ideas down on paper, however insignificant they may seem helps organize your thoughts and actions. In times when inspiration is lacking, these journals can be a great resource. Many writers in the past carried small notebooks around for this very reason.
You can choose to have different journals for each subject or, if you’re like me, combine a variety of them into one. When keeping more than one journal, it’s important to remember that you don’t need to write in all of them every day. Each one will serve a different function in your life and they will all enrich it in some way. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, keeping even one of these journals will bring you immense joy. Happy journaling!