Putting it down on paper

What comes to mind when you think of journaling? 


Is it something like this?



Perhaps you imagine a woman, deep in thought, pouring her soul onto the page. And journaling certainly can be that, but it doesn’t always have to be.


Or perhaps when you think of a journal, you conjure the prototype of a diary, a place where we record a summary of our day. This makes sense because the root of journal is jour, which means day in French. 


However, a journal doesn’t have to be that, either. There are many different types of journals and they can each be used in different ways.


I am a big nerd when it comes to journals and planners. (I’m a big nerd about a lot of things!) So, I decided to curate for you a list of all the journals and planners I currently use, in case you are looking for some new ways to journal and plan!


Bullet Journals

Have you ever heard of a bullet journal (often referred to as a BuJo in the bullet journal community)? I discovered this four years ago and it was my go-to system for managing all the things: recording my daily activities and thoughts, my appointments and obligations, my goals, and all my collections. (In BuJo-ese, a collection is a two-page spread of anything you want to keep track of, such as a list of books you’ve read, a list of books you want to read, a list of bills to pay, a weight or fitness log, a list of favorite quotes, etc.) 


Full confession: I’m a recovering bullet journaler. While I still love the concept of a bullet journal, its adaptability to the individual and absolute utility, I found that the creation of it on a monthly a weekly basis was a huge time suck for me. 


If I’ve piqued your interest, go to YouTube and search bullet journal. Pack a lunch and grab a blanket, because you will undoubtedly slide down a long, addictive rabbit hole!


I’ve since replaced my BuJo in favor of a regular planner and a goal planner. (More on those at the end.) I’ve also expanded my journaling practice from the BuJo into several journals.


My Journals

Currently, I have four journals. Yes, four. Below is a description of each and how I use it.


To keep a record of all the important and mundane things that happen, I use a Five Year Journal, which is similar to a traditional diary, except that each page has the date and five entries. The idea is to write a short paragraph on that same date every year for five years. I’m looking forward to the next few years when I can look back on that same date to see what I wrote. I bought mine on Amazon (here is the link) and it looks like this:


To help grow my Faith, I use a Write the Word Journal. Each one is based on a quality you’d like to cultivate, such as Joy, Confidence, Peace, etc. Inside, on each page, there is a Bible verse number that aligns with that quality. The idea is to look up the verse in your Bible, write it out in the journal, and then write about what resonates with you and how you can apply that in your life. There is also a space to write what you are grateful for. I bought mine from Cultivate What Matters, the company that created them, but there might be other versions out there. In any case, here is the link to their website if this sounds like a journal you might enjoy.


I wanted one place to keep all of my learnings and notes on self-improvement, so I created a Personal Growth Journal. I took a blank journal that someone gifted to me, and I divided it into the following sections by placing a double layer of washi tape on the edge of the divider pages: Thought Work, Productivity, Quotes to Live By, and Spiritual Lessons. 


In the Thought Work section, I jot down the most important ideas I’ve learned from the different life coaches I follow and have met with. In the Productivity section, I record my favorite ideas from podcasts, articles, and books I’ve read about how to be more productive. In the Spiritual Lessons section, I write down all the nuggets of wisdom I’ve learned from my spiritual teachers (Iyanla Vanzant, A Course in Miracles, Marianne Williamson, Rev. Deborah L. Johnson, and many others).


Finally, when I really want to go deep by writing in order to process my thoughts and feelings about all I’m learning or about things that have happened in my life, I use my Digital Journal. This is just a Google Doc that I created because when I have a lot to write about, I need to type it. If I use a pen and paper, my hand can’t write nearly as fast as I think, which frustrates me. I can type almost as quickly as I think, so keeping a digital journal for this purpose makes more sense!


My Planners

In addition to my four journals, I have two planners: a day planner and yearly goal planner.


I use my 2021 Christian Planner to keep track of my appointments, take notes on my Pastor’s weekly sermons and track my daily habits. It also includes a monthly and weekly to-do list, which I love. There is something super satisfying about being able to cross things off a to-do list! Here is a link in case you want to check it out!


I use my Cultivate What Matters 2021 Power Sheets Goal Planner for mapping out all of my goals for this year. In the front of the planner, there are 50+ pages of “prep work,” to help you review the previous year, decide what matters most, and then create goals around those things so you can ultimately achieve your “best life.” (While I believe that there is no such thing as a best life, other than the life you are living right now, in the moment, I do find it helpful to not only have a lifelong vision, but annual goals that help me make progress on things I want to achieve.)


What I like most about this goal planner is that each month, they give you a “Tending List,” which is a sheet for listing the monthly, weekly and daily goals you plan to focus on that month, and which are each connected to your larger, yearly goals. I also love that every season — every 3 months — they give you a few sheets to reflect on your goal progress thus far and the opportunity to do a “Goal Refresh,” if you want to modify, remove or add to your existing goals. The link to the Power Sheets is here.


Whatever you currently use to keep yourself organized, I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of my journal and planner collection!