I need multiple journals in my life. And when I say multiple, I mean 13. I didn’t actually know I had 13 journals going all at once until I started making this list and then all of a sudden it added up to 13. Technically it’s 14, but I’m transitioning out of one and into another, so we’re not going to count that one… we’ll just call it 13, ok? No wonder they call me the Stationery Nerd.
There are some people who can fit their entire life inside a single bullet journal. They combine their schedule and appointments with tasks and project management and add in journaling, art, meeting notes, commonplace books, mixed media art, photos and anything else that comes along. The term is OmniJournaling and I first learned about it from Yippie Cahier. She describes it as:
Bullet journaling on steroids! Or sketchbooking with added organizational elements.
When I look at those journals I’m intrigued and awed by the amazing art and jumbled beauty of the chaos the artists create. Totally drool-worthy!
But I need multiple journals, not just one!
My brain doesn’t work like that, though. I admire those who can do it, but I just can’t. Keeping different areas of my life in their own journal seems to be working well for me. Yes, I still have the main bullet journal where I keep the majority of my daily life… but there are little pockets of things that need their own space.
I truly believe there is no ONE right or wrong way to keep a journal. Everything is right. Nothing is wrong. Whatever works for you is exactly the right method and you should continue doing that thing. But I wanted to share with you my ever-evolving list of active journals in the hopes that maybe it’ll spark some ideas for your system too.
As you know, I’ve got a few journals just lying around. OK, more than a few. A “few” is three, four or more are “several” … but what’s 30? A pile? I hoard? A boatload? Yeah, yeah, yeah… I’ve got some journals. So I might as well use them.
I recently picked up this adorable wire basket at Hobby Lobby (you can also find it on Amazon). It’s exactly the right size to sit on my desk and store all my active journals. Before I got the basket the journals were scattered across my desk, on a bookshelf, at my bedside table, or wherever I happened to use that journal last. Now they have a home and I love the way they look together.
Do you keep multiple notebooks and journals? Let me know what your list looks like. Or if you’re an OmniJournaling type of person, I’d love to hear all about it!
So let’s dive in and talk journals (one of my favorite topics ever!). Yes, I actively use all of these journals. Some more than others, of course.
1 – Bullet Journal
This is where almost everything goes. It’s very much like what you’d expect a bullet journal to be with daily tasks and project lists, collections, notes and quotes, information to keep track of, etc. I use the Tekukor A5 Dotted Notebook which was the winner of the 30+ Journal Review I started last Fall. In fact, I just started a new bullet journal a few weeks ago and bought a second Tekukor because I didn’t want to switch to a different brand yet.
2 – Work Bullet Journal
This is a journal I keep at the office and it stays on my desk and is used exclusively for tasks associated with my day job as a graphic designer. There are a lot of moving parts to my job with many requests for my time, tasks to complete, major projects with lots of mini elements, and notes to take during project meetings. I don’t want all that information mixed in with my personal life (mostly because I don’t want to think about work when I leave the office at 5:00), so all that stuff goes into its own journal. I use a Superior Maker Rules A5 Journal for this. I love that it’s extra fat (240 pages) and has heavy paper (100gsm) so I don’t need to worry about which pen or marker I use on the page. This journal is less of a bullet journal and more of a way to capture tasks and requests that come to me every day.
3 – Financial Tracker Notebook
If you follow me on Instagram and Facebook, you might remember that my word of the year is Stewardship. I’m working hard this year to do better with my finances – including paying down my student loan debt faster than the minimum payments. I’m also working hard to rebuild my fully-funded emergency fund (Baby Step 3, for those who are familiar with the Dave Ramsey system) and I’m tracking that progress here too. I originally had planned to create a budget book out of this, but I found that analog didn’t work for me when it comes to something as complex as my budget. I needed to go digital for my full budget so I went back to my spreadsheet form I have used for years. I really love the Ghost Grid A5 Spiral Dotted Notebook because the paper is so nice (100gsm) and it’s also an American Made product by a company own by a Veteran in Ohio, USA. I wanted a pretty cover on this notebook so I added some scrapbook paper and a quote card to the front – which is protected by the plastic cover of the notebook.
4 – Business Planner
Aside from my day job, I also have a side business doing graphic design and brand management for clients. I’m slowly phasing out of service-based client work and moving to some other types of business ventures. Additionally, this website – Stationery Nerd – is sort of part of that business arm of my life, except this is more of a “playground” type of project where I’m having more fun than actually working. In the past couple months I’ve been developing a more formal business planner for my side business and projects. I’m still keeping daily tasks in my main bullet journal, but I’m using the business planner to track things like finances, social media stats, editorial calendars, brainstorming sessions, product development checklists, and my business plan. All this stuff has been housed in my Midori MD A5 Grid notebook for the past year, but I’m finding that it doesn’t work for my needs and I decided to move into a disc system instead. I’m using an Arc Discbound System – black leather cover, aluminum 1” discs, section dividers and then I printed my own dot-grid paper and punched the pages with my big punch.
5 – Accountability Partner Book
This little notebook goes along with my business planner, so I’m listing it next. I have an accountability partner that helps me stay on track with my business goals. He and I have a call once a week to discuss our progress over the past 7 days and what goals we’ve accomplished since our last call. Each week we each set new goals for the week – things we will work on or finish before our next call. To keep him accountable, I write down the tasks he’ll be working on so I can ask him about it in our next call. He does the same on his end (apparently my tasks are written on the whiteboard in his apartment for everyone to see). I also write my own tasks down in this notebook so I can keep track of what I want to accomplish too. Each page represents the tasks we’ll accomplish for the coming week and I cross them off as we finish them. It’s a great record of our progress over the past couple of years. This notebook is one I picked up at a thrift store years ago. I tried to find it online for you, but can’t seem to find it for sale anywhere. It’s called the Notelettes Retro Cadillac notebook.
6 – Travel Journal
When I go on vacation – or even a day trip or weekend getaway – I like to record my adventure. And when I say adventure, I mean relaxing on the beach and eating at amazing restaurants. Life is hectic enough, I don’t need adrenaline-pumping adventure when I’m on vacation! I learned a long time ago that I love the act of creating a travel journal WHILE I travel so when I get back home, the pages are finished and all my memories have been captured in real-time. I take along a little art kit that includes pens, markers, a travel watercolor palette, scissors, washi tape, glue, and scissors. My travel journals have migrated through many different types of notebook systems. I used a traveler’s notebook for a long time, I was in a 3-ring binder for a while, but now I’m in a bound journal. Specifically, I’m using my Scribbles That Matter A5 Journal as my travel journal right now. I’m about halfway through it at the moment and hope to fill it up the rest of the way this spring and summer. Then I might go back to a traveler’s notebook. What do you use?
UPDATE: My most recent vacation was recorded in a Tomoe River notebook insert for my Traveler’s Notebook. I made a video of how I made it and a flip through once it will filled.
7 – Swatch Book
This one is brand new and I was inspired to do it by my friend Amy at Tyrian Design (she also made the giraffe decal on my Tekukor Bullet Journal, go check her out!) In fact, she even gave me the little book I’m using as a Christmas gift. It’s the Tekukor A6 Dotted Notebook. As a stationery nerd, I admit to owning a lot of art supplies and stationery goodies (did I even need to say that out loud?). I’ve been watching some videos by Cindy at Llamas Love Lettering and I notice that as she flips through her bullet journal you’ll see a full page of pen swatches for a new set of markers or pens she’s just gotten. I love that! I love that she just sticks those pages into the middle of her journal wherever they land. But I also know myself well enough to know that it’d drive me nuts after a while. I want all that stuff to be together. So I decided to start a whole new swatch book and I’m doing it in this cute Tekukor A6 Journal. C’mon… how cute is this?! So I’ve started with the Tombow pens but I’ll be adding all the rest too. I’m sure you’ll see this in videos from time to time so keep an eye out for it.
8 – Diary Style Journal
I keep a handwritten journal that is similar to the old-fashioned diary I kept as a young girl. I use the term “diary” in this heading because it’s a recognizable term for what this is. But really I just call it my journal. Many people use a separate notebook for writing Morning Pages (stream of consciousness writing done first thing in the morning – a system taught by Julie Cameron in The Artist’s Way). I personally do my Morning Pages at the computer every morning and type for about 20 minutes about whatever nonsense is in my head that needs to be cleared away. My journal, though, is used for writing at other times of the day. Most often I use this at night before bed – which is why it is usually in my bedside table, rather than the basket on my desk. There’s nothing earth-shattering in here, but it’s a way for me to dump out the clutter and get things down on paper. I’m really inspired by the journaling videos by Tina at Overall Adventures. For this journal I’m using the Uberworks A5 LUFT lined journal except, they are no longer making this line (with the cork-like cover), but their new line called Uberworks THENIK looks great too.
UPDATE: I’ve filled up the Uberworks journal and started a new one. I love this pre-decorated watercolor mural style journal – Siixu Colorful Blank Notebook. The paper is lovely and I’m enjoying using my fountain pens to do my journaling.
9 – Learning Notebook
I always feel like this needs a better name, but it is what it is. Whenever I’m taking an online class, attending a workshop or seminar, or making notes while reading a book, or taking notes in any other type learning setting – this is the notebook I use for those notes. I like having all these types of notes together in a single place. Granted, there are plenty of times when I’m learning something and don’t have this journal with me. In those instances, I just turn to the next blank page in my main bullet journal (that’s with me all the time) and write the notes there. I don’t bother to transfer those notes into the Learning Notebook though. I guess I could probably make some notes in an index or collection page in the Learning Notebook about where notes for things are kept in other journals … but that seems like more work than I’m willing to do. Ha! For this journal I’m using a Green Inspired Journal that I picked up at Target.
10 – Devotions & Spiritual Learning Notebook
This is a new journal for me and I’m really loving it. One of my goals for this year is to read more books about spirituality and daily devotions style books. Right now I’m going through “100 Days to Brave” by Annie F. Downs and I’m using this journal to write notes and do the assignments she’s giving in each daily chapter. This notebook is different than my Sermon Notes journal below in that I’m using this for self-guided study as I explore my own spirituality and my relationship with God through study. I’m sure this journal will evolve as I use it over time, but for now I’m a dozen pages in and I like having a single place for this type of writing. I’m using the gray and pink JoyNote A5 Executive Journal along with my pink Pilot Hi-Tec-C Maica gel ink pen (yes, I’m writing everything in pink ink!).
11 – Sermon Notes
Years ago I came across this “Trust in the Lord” lined journal by C.R. Gibson and started using it to take notes during church. I liked it so much I went on a hunt to find another one to use after the first was filled up. I had a hard time finding it back then so I bought three of them when I finally came across some in an obscure bookstore while I was on vacation. I like seeing them all lined up on my bookshelf, not only because they match and it looks impressive, but because there’s so much gold in these books!
12 – Photo-a-Day Planner
This past January I started a 365 Photo project and I’m loving it so far! I did a review of the Lemome Dated Planner Journals and love the quality of the books, but I didn’t have a need for a dated planner this year. I decided to stock up on paper for my HP Sprocket and start a photo-a-day project where I printed a photo each day and wrote a short story about what that photo represents for the day. I’ve done pretty good so far this year and I love that at the end of the year I’m going to have a mini scrapbook to chronicle my visual memories of the year.
13 – Five Year Journal
I’m including this here because it’s technically a journal and a lot of people include this type of thing in their bullet journals. I’m now in my second 5-year journal so I’m midway through my 6th year. There’s just enough room on each daily section to write a sentence or two about the day. I don’t try to record every single thing that happened, but just jot down a simple reminder of that day or maybe a note about how I feel or what I’m grateful for. I don’t set any rules for myself with this journal, it can be whatever I need it to be each day. I’ve tried these 5-year journals at other times in my life but was never able to keep up with them, so I’m not sure why it stuck this time around but I’m glad it did. Each night before bed I pull this journal out of my bedside table and jot down a couple lines before lights-out. I’m using “A Thought a Day: Five Year Journal” this time around, but my previous one was The Happiness Project Five Year Journal.
I’d love to know about your journals. Are you an OmniJournaler and keep everything in a single notebook? Or do you have a bunch of notebooks with specific purposes like I do? Tell me all about it!