Journal Hoarding is Real
Getting a brand new blank notebook is one of the most exciting sensations. There is so much potential, so much freedom! The feeling of cracking open the front cover, the texture of the paper in your hands… it can be intoxicating. But it can also be quite intimidating! Sometimes the blankness of the first page can be overwhelming and make you feel like you’ll surely ruin this beautiful thing. You might be tempted to put this gorgeous blank notebook on your shelf (with the other empty journals you’ve collected). I know what it’s like to have a vast collection of underused journals and the unique frustration that comes along with it. Thankfully, after a few years of journal exploration, I’ve found dozens of ways to put beautiful blank notebooks to good use. If you are ready to feel inspired to take on your journal collection, then grab your favorite pen and let’s jump in!
My Favorite Journals
I’ve used a million journals and notebooks over the years, but here are my favorites that I’ll happily use again and again.
30 Ways to Use a Blank Notebook
1. Hobby Journal
Are you an avid hobbyist? Then keep a journal for all your hobby-related projects and purchases! Sketch out rough ideas of your plans, measure for projects, and jot down items you need or want to grab in the future. That way you have a record of all the work you’ve done so you don’t forget key details.
2. Lists of 100
3. Dream Diary
Are you interested in the meaning of your dreams? Trying to learn how to lucid dream? Then a dream diary is a must! Keep a journal by your bed and jot down your nighttime adventures when you wake up.
If you have a blank notebook with no lines or grids, then it’s a great candidate for a sketchbook! You don’t need fancy paper to doodle or jot down your rough ideas.
5. Daily Events
Some people prefer to keep a personal record of their daily activities, and a blank notebook is perfect for just that. Write down a few sentences about what you do each day – who you saw, what you ate, what you worked on, etc. Over time, you can see some patterns of your life and gain some great insights!
6. Lettering Practice Book
Interested in hand lettering? You know you need to practice in order to improve, so why not use one of your blank notebooks? Pull out your Tombows or your Faber-Castels and go nuts practicing! Brush lettering is an amazing skill that isn’t hard to pick up – the only thing you need is the right resource to learn the right way. If you’re wanting to get into lettering, check out my course Brush Lettering 101 and get started today!
7. Time Tracker
When you work for yourself or you simply want to keep better track of your schedule, then a time tracker is a fantastic tool. Keep a notebook next to your desk and simply scribble down the time when you switch tasks so you can review your time usage later. If you’re a procrastinator, this might be just the method to help you see where you get stuck so you can correct. It’s super easy to set up, but you can always add a bit of fun and flair with time tracker stickers!
8. Plan a Wedding or Party
Planning parties can be fun or it can be stressful. Keep all your ducks in a row by dedicating one blank notebook exclusively to your planning! This is especially handy if you’re engaged and you’re planning out your wedding. One journal can be the central location of all color swatches, appointments, music playlists, registry information, and more so you don’t lose your head.
9. Vision Journal
Ever heard of a vision board? Imagine that, but in a journal! Write out your wildest fantasy of your best life. Cut out pictures from magazines, paste in pictures of yourself, and let yourself dream without limits. Don’t know where to get started on this fun project? Try this exercise for page one!
10. Health Log
If you have any type of medical or mental condition, then keeping a health log might be your new favorite thing. You can track all your symptoms, triggers, medications, and any other information that is relevant to your condition. That way you can see the overarching patterns and better handle your situation! And an added bonus is that you can discuss your health log with your doctor and have a better dialogue about steps moving forward.
11. Food Journal
Health is a super important part of life, so dedicate a blank notebook to the cause! Keep a log of everything you eat, how much water you drink, and even write down a permanent grocery list to take with you to the store. If you are into calorie counting, keep that information in your food journal too. It’s the perfect way to watch what you eat!
12. Gardening Journal
A gardening journal is wonderful for folks who have a green thumb. Keep a detailed list of your houseplants, patio plants, or food garden plants. Create a schedule so you know exactly when your monstera was last watered or when your string of pearls was fertilized. If you want to keep your green babies healthy and happy, a gardening journal is an excellent choice.
13. Memory Book
Use a blank notebook to write down notable events in your life and embellish them with photos or drawings. Treat it like an informal scrapbook and document big life events, vacations, and other treasured memories. This can be for you to keep or it can be given to someone you love, like your children. Grab an instant camera and make a habit of snapping impromptu photos for your memory book. Be as creative as you want with it! Just make sure you have fun making awesome memories 🙂
14. Habit Tracker
As I’m sure you can tell by now, I’m a big fan of logs and trackers. My favorite tracker of all is my habit tracker! This one lives in my watercolor planner, but it could easily be moved to its own journal. You pick certain habits (good or bad) that you want to track, then simply mark whether you did that habit each day. Over time, you can see your habitual routines and patterns pop up, which means you can tackle any habit changes you want to make!
15. Mutual Love Note
This one goes out to all you lovebirds out there. Keep a single journal (maybe a nice leather journal like this) and use it as a place to keep love notes. Write out your sappiest feelings and address it to your sweetheart. When he or she picks it up to write their own heartfelt message, your note will be waiting. You can collect some beautiful memories over the years and create a cherished keepsake to enjoy for years to come.
16. Morning Pages
If you’ve ever struggled to keep a dedicated journal, then I’d highly suggest you try writing Morning Pages! After years of trying to write regularly, the Morning Pages helped me turn journal writing into a daily habit – one I’ve kept for a couple years now! This method is from the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, and it’s hands down one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read.
- Julia Cameron
- Publisher: TarcherPerigee
17. Bullet Journal
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the bullet journal! This is an excellent planning/journaling system to help you dive into organization. You can make it as fun or as frilly as you want, and it’s perfect for any old blank notebook that you have lying around. Read my ultimate bullet journal cheat sheet to get started!
18. Spiritual Journal
Whatever your spiritual journey, you can track and plan it all in one journal. Write down prayers, meditations, Tarot card spreads, hymns, holiday plans – you name it. This is perfect for any notebook that you feel especially drawn to!
Affirmations are an incredible tool to help you change your thoughts and attitude to be more positive. And an affirmations journal is an awesome way to help you develop that habit!
20. Book/TV Show/Restaurant List
This journal would be the place you jot down all those things you have been meaning to try but always forget. Get a recommendation to try a new restaurant? Write it down! Have someone suggest a book? Write it down! That way, when you’re looking for something to eat or a new book to read, you can flip open this journal and have your pick of the litter. Someone suggested Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert to me and it took me ages and ages to finally read it using Audible (spoiler alert: it’s amazing). If you want to try out Audible, you can get two free audiobooks with a free month-long trial and see for yourself.
21. Recipe Book
If you want to kick up your cooking game, then try starting a recipe book! Think of it as a log of all the recipes you try, along with notes about what you thought about that meal. Writing it all down can help you develop your skills in the kitchen and be more conscious about your food choices. You can also add recipes you want to try down the road by creating a recipe bank!
22. Gratitude Journal
We could all use more gratitude in our lives, right? Make it happen by starting a gratitude log in a new journal! Counting your blessings is good for the soul and incredibly easy to do.
23. Blog Log
Have a blog? Make plans and track your success in a notebook! It’s a fantastic way to stay on track and keep yourself organized. In fact, I have a whole post about how to use a pen and paper notebook to plan for your blog! Don’t have a blog yet but interested in starting one? I can help you get off the ground with a $50 discount to web hosting!
24. Exercise Journal
Whether you want to lose weight, gain mass, or maintain a healthy body, an exercise journal is a great way to do it. Write down your goals, inspiration, and exercises. Create an exercise schedule for yourself, and make sure to track your progress! It’s perfect if you’re training for a marathon or participating in some kind of program, like the Couch to 5k.
25. Expenses Tracker
If you want to have a better handle on your finances, then why not keep a financial planner? Focus on your goals of paying off student loan debt, creating an emergency fund, or saving up for your dream vacation. Track your monthly expenses and watch how your spending habits develop.
26. Six Word Story
Every day come up with a six-word story – it’s that simple! This is a fun challenge from Page Flutter to get the creative juices flowing and it’s a great exercise for aspiring writers and poets.
27. Bucket List
This is a great opportunity for you to think up all the wild and incredible things you want to do in your life. They can be grand, expensive, once-in-a-lifetime events – or they can be seasonal activities that you love and enjoy. I’ve made seasonal bucket lists for both summer and autumn, and they made me bask in the glory of each season even more!
28. Travel Journal
I don’t know about you, but every time I travel, I get so wrapped up in the experience that I never think to document it in any way. That means that days full of rich exploration and fun get lost to memory, and I only remember highlights. That’s why I want to start a travel journal to capture all the magic of travel so I can enjoy it for years to come. If you love to travel, then you should start one, too!
29. Unsent Letters
When you are angry or upset with someone in your life, sometimes the best thing to do is write an Unsent Letter. This technique from Journal to the Self by Kathleen Adams is a powerful way to pour your feelings onto paper and process heavy emotions. You can let out all your pain, anger, and sorrow. Then you can keep it tucked away, safe and sound. Just make sure this one stays away from prying eyes!
- Journal to the Self: 22 Paths to Personal Growth
- Kathleen Adams
- Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
30. Nature Journal
If you enjoy nature walks, you might enjoy taking up the hobby of nature journaling. A book I particularly enjoy on the subject is A Trail Through Leaves by Hannah Hinchman! Observe your local wildlife as the seasons change and you’ll be amazed of all the natural beauty you’ll capture. I enjoy bringing my Pentel Aquash Brushes and Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils with me so I can sketch on the go.
While this list covers 30 great ways to use your journal, there are no limits to what you can do! The blank page offers you complete freedom to do whatever you want. And don’t feel that you must keep a notebook committed to only a single purpose! Mix and match whatever you fancy to suit your needs and help you get the maximum enjoyment out of your paper pal. If you are nervous about writing on that first intimidating page, check out this post on perfection and getting past the first hurdle to using a blank notebook. So take your pen in your hand and write out whatever feels right to you. Now go out there and make something fantastic!
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