Journaling: How to Mix and Match


Journaling takes many different forms and purposes. Below is a list of some of the most useful journaling strategies. These can be mixed and combined to fit your needs, or you can choose to keep more than one journal at a time.

Long-Term Journal

Find a time each day or each week when you will remember to journal, maybe when you wake up or when you go to sleep, and record anything you will want to remember long-term. Don’t allow this journal to intimidate you; the older version of you will likely enjoy reminiscing about the mundane details of your day.

Offer brief summaries of your current projects, responsibilities, and activities and record any sad, crazy, or scary stories with as much detail and description as possible. Record dates, since you’ll eventually scramble the dates in your mind.

Bullet Journal

Bullet journaling is all about efficiency and organization while retaining the benefits of writing by hand. This journal allows you to keep track of your “to-do” list, remember important facts/dates, and record ideas for future use. This journaling style encourages mindfulness since you will intentionally capture thoughts as they pass through your mind throughout the day, each entry only occupying one or two lines.

You’ll need to carry the journal with you at all times to record important thoughts as they arrive so that they are not forgotten. If you are willing to forgo the benefits of writing by hand, you can record thoughts bullet-journal-style with a notes app on your phone. To learn more about the basics of bullet journaling, click here.

Blank Journal

Blank journals offer the most creativity since you can easily include doodles and pictures along with your thoughts. Free spirits, artistic souls, and anyone who would find space for pictures or diagrams helpful should consider a blank journal as an option.

Gratitude Journal

Many studies show that expressing gratitude greatly improves your mood and overall happiness. Most people tend to spend too much time considering all the negative conditions in their life, causing them to feel discouraged. However, contemplating all the positive aspects of your life encourages people by forcing them to recognize their blessings.

Try writing down two or three thanksgivings a day and see if your perspective on life changes. A few years ago, I wrote down five thanksgivings every day until I reached a thousand, leaving me encouraged and content. I would highly recommend the same goal to anyone!

Travel Journal

When you travel, take advantage of what you learn and avoid repeating mistakes by recording the details of your journey. Include the names of parks, restaurants, hotels, etc. you visited and what you want to remember if you visit again.

Whenever I go camping, I record the numbers of the campsites I like the best, so I can reserve them in the future. You should also consider documenting your thoughts and feelings as you explore to fully process the history, beauty, and entertainment that you experience and to easily recall your memories through future readings of your journal.

Hobby/Goal Journal

These journals help you remember mistakes and insights you gained from experience in your hobbies or goals. For instance, if you like gardens or houseplants, record how often you water the plants, what new strategies you’ve tried, and how your plants reacted to them, in order to see what provides the best environment for your plants. By examining this journal, you will know how you can improve, what mistakes to avoid, and what other strategies you should try in the future in order to reach your goals.

Dream Journal

This one is just for fun, but try storing a journal by your bed and writing down any crazy dreams that you had during the night. Since we often forget our dreams soon after waking up, you’ll never know what kind of hilarious entries you’ll collect in that journal!

Journaling by hand improves the quality of your life by:
  1. Improving memory and allowing you to keep track of facts and stories that you don’t want to forget
  2. Therapeutically allowing you to process everything occurring in your life, relieving some stress and discouragement
  3. Helping you think about yourself and the world around you a little deeper
  4. Allowing you to recognize in what ways you should grow and how you can improve the world around you
  5. Boosting creativity
  6. Improving hand-eye coordination
  7. Developing your brain

Many avoid journaling because of the time commitment, but with these journaling strategies, it can take as little as five/ten minutes a week if that is what you prefer. If you struggle to make yourself sit down and write, tell yourself just to write one sentence, and, after that sentence, decide if you want to keep going. Often, the process of sitting down and starting is the most difficult, and, once you pass that point, writing is relaxing and enjoyable. So, mix and match some of the journaling strategies above and make up your own until you find the perfect routine to enjoy the benefits of journaling.

Katelyn is an editorial intern at Potential magazine and a senior at Faulkner University where she studies English. She enjoys writing and she is excited to work with Potential to share her experience and research about college life, self-improvement, budgeting, etc.

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