What do you journal about?

What do you journal about?

A few weeks ago I transferred what felt like my whole life from my old journal into a brand-new one. (I almost did this in late December, so I could start the new year with a new journal, but I had plenty of pages left and didn’t sweat it too much when I didn’t get around to it.)

I keep a bullet-ish journal; it usually takes me 10-13 months to fill one up. I start with a blank journal and lightly customize it to suit my own needs. (My favorite are these dotted Leuchtturms, though I gave my daughter one of these journals for Christmas and I’m jealous of her thicker pages!).

When I set up the new journal, I tried to give myself ample room to record the things that have proven to be helpful to have handy, giving particular thought to how I want to organize my book stuff.

I gave myself lots of space—thirty pages—to record what I read in 2021 (and yes, I did go on and copy over my January 1-19 reads so I could have all my books for the year in one place!). I allowed multiple pages to keep all my Summer Reading Guide notes together. (That’s a peek at a previous year’s version, above.) Based on how many pages I’ve used in the past, I allocated a dozen for my To Be Read log.

Books are a big part of my life, and I wanted to get that part of my journal right. But I also thought about what else might be helpful to capture here, like notes from various meetings I participate in, a place to keep ideas I’m contemplating, projects I may want to work on one day. I like to keep frequently-referred to information in here, because my life runs smoother when my notes are easy to find.

With that in mind, I decided to create a new log for the first time. This year, I’m keeping notes about what we have for dinner right here in my journal.

This may seem like a silly thing to track. Honestly, I’m surprised it even occurred to me to do so! But this year more than most we’ve been forgetting our favorite meals—even the ones we had just a few weeks ago. It’s hard to please everyone in a family of six, and during weeks when we feel pickier than usual, we struggle to remember what we all actually enjoy eating. I’d love to have our history on the page.

Now I’ll have one. My new log says “What We Ate” at the top and that’s exactly what it contains: a super simple list of our dinners. Not what we planned to eat, or thought about eating, but what we actually ate.

Much like my “Books I’ve Read” log, I just write down the recipe, the source if applicable, and put a little star next to meals we loved.

I allowed myself enough pages to capture a year’s worth of meals, and I look forward to seeing how often I actually refer back to our dinner history, and how it changes our meal plans (or doesn’t).

(It occurred to me how fun it could be to keep a dinner log in a five-year journal. Has anyone tried something like this? I’ve had this nearly-empty journal for years, just waiting for such a purpose!)

My dinner log is new to me, and it’s a log I never imagined I’d want or need. But I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s tried this or a similar experiment, or who captures sometimes surprising details of daily life in their journal pages.

My own new log got me wondering: what do you journal about? what do you find helpful to record?

I’d love to hear—and based on our readers’ enthusiasm for anything journal-related, I’m sure the rest of us would, too.

What do you journal about? What do you track that others might find surprising? What is the one thing you track that’s most helpful to you? Tell us in the comments section!

P.S. If, like many of us, you have a slight obsession with finding the perfect pen, check out my favorite journaling supplies.

P.P.S. New to book journaling? We have a whole class devoted to setting up your book journal in the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club. And here’s a simple trick for your TBR list.

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112 comments | Comment

112 comments

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  1. I love this post! I love anything journal related. I’ve kept a journal since I was a very young girl and I fly through them each year. I keep a track of what I do each day, I write Scripture out each day inside it from a plan I participate in each month, I jot down things I want to remember that happened, I write out prayers sometimes and I keep sermon notes from each Sunday inside. All of that means I go through one journal every two months, approximately. I also keep a list of things I need to remember at the back, which I transfer over to a new one each time I start fresh. I do keep track of what I read as well, but in a separate journal my friend gave me.

  2. Christine says:

    This reminds me so much of “Dinner: a Love Story,” where the author has recorded every dinner they’ve eaten for years. It’s a wonderful book (and blog, too). Happy journaling!

    • Nicole says:

      Yes, I was thinking the same thing- “Dinner: A Love Story” (by Jenny Rosenstrach) was a good read and made me want to keep a dinner journal- maybe hearing about it again here will be the nudge to get me to finally do it. 😉

  3. Adrienne says:

    I also keep a bullet-ish journal. At the start of each month, I make a 2-page spread with a row for each day on the left and then I create three columns across the two pages for my personal and work To-Do list items, which I add to throughout the month. I use post-it notes for small/trivial to-do items, which I just post on the page and then remove when the item is complete. At the top of each month I like to add a quote; usually it’s a quote from a book I really enjoyed the previous month. Feb 2021 has this at the top of page, “Nothing is all good or all bad, “she says. “Life is so much messier than that.” This was my favorite quote from ‘The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue’ by V.E. Schwab.
    At the back of my journal I keep a TBR list, and I also keep a list of watercolor painting projects/tutorials, that I want to complete.
    I have never thought about adding a dinner log, but what a great idea! I wouldn’t record every dinner, but it would be great to record new recipes.

    • Kate says:

      I have been using an online journal that I highly recommend called “Day One.” It is an app. I am able to write, post pictures, do screenshots, etc. I will take pictures of books I am reading or sometimes a summary of the day news events, just so I can capture something quickly. You can get a book made of this photo journal. I have several now. It’s easier for me than toting a book around. Life is so busy, but I can easily snap a photo and write about it later.

  4. Katie N. says:

    Tracking our dinners has been a staple for me for a few years, but I incorporated it into my bullet journal in 2019 and love it! We were getting burned out eating some meals too often and others not enough. I have built in enough meals that I just about have a 2 month rotation of all of our dinners!

  5. I use my journal to record my concerns and worries, my “thankfulness” list, and prayer intentions. I have been journaling for several years, but this past Pandemic year, has also found me simply listing the ways we filled our days while isolated. Perhaps someday my grandchildren or great-grands will find it interesting! Maybe!😉

  6. Sally Tibbetts says:

    I kept journals for a very long time but in my more recent years not so much so this blog is pretty inspiring to get me going again. However, I’ve kept journals anytime I’ve traveled and I’ve also kept notes on Christmas meals- even taken photos of the table all laid out and pretty. I lost my three older wonderful brothers in a period of five years and I kept a journal devoted to just those times…morbid but comforting when I did it. Being an artist I love to “augment” my journals with collages and paint…and commentary on art work I’m involved in. Some of my journals are “Morning Pages”….

    • MeganTerrell says:

      The journal during the loss of family members must have been both useful and comforting. I am trying to figure out a way to integrate some “crafty art” like collage into my now very scattered journaling. Right now it is literally, random pages in various notebooks.

    • Megan Pierson says:

      I have swapped from a bullet journal to keeping a yearly planner for appointments etc as well as my Word of the Year, “ 21 for 21” & goals.
      I keep separate journals for reading, TBR, gardening, meal planning, church notes & one for lists-movies, tv series & shows, quotes, places to visit and the like.
      I find this saves me from transferring from one journal to the next throughout the year & it is working quite well for me.

  7. Stephanie says:

    I have a few staples in my journal: a To-Be-Read page, a To-Be-Written page, a Possible Projects page, a yearly spread for my word of the month, Things I’m Grateful For, To-Do Lists, Memories Page, Bucket List and more! I’ve been journaling for a long while, but bullet journaling is newer. I love it!

    • MeganTerrell says:

      What is the type of thing on your To Be Written page? Are you a writer? Or is this more like letters to people? I’ve never heard this concept mentioned before.

      • Stephanie says:

        All of the above! I am a writer (I write books for teachers) and a blogger, so I often jot down ideas for blog posts and articles, things to share with my email list (www.alitlife.com) and personal writing too: cards to send, ‘just because’ emails and more. It helps me stay on top of my writing life, just as it does my reading life!

    • Joy Shelden says:

      I don’t bullet journal – too much planning and organization. I hate structure! I journal the more traditional way. I either write about my day or what I’ve been thinking about or feeling lately, or sometimes I’ll copy out song lyrics or poems that mean something to me, and I jot down quotes or mixed-media ideas to try in my sketchbook later. I write daily, so I go through a journal a month. I have special pens I use for each one. I chose which one to write in based on what it feels like (for example, the journal I write in now feels like February to me). I just started book journaling this year, using a regular unused notebook I’d had laying around for years. I’ve decided to read all those books on my kindle’s local storage. The ones I don’t like I’ll delete, making room for more books I do like. I find book journaling helps me stick to my reading list.

  8. My son got me a gift certificate for a customizable journal/planner for Christmas and I haven’t ordered it yet because I wasn’t sure how I’d use it or what kind of pages I’d want I it. All that to say that I really enjoyed this post and am am looking forward to reading the comments for ideas and inspiration.

  9. Gaye says:

    I am a gratitude journalist. The top portion of each dated page chronicles what I am grateful for that day. For my own mental health during quarantine I knew that I needed to still notice little miracles, kindnesses extended, the colors of the sunset (which was killer last night!) Sometimes it’s a whole list and sometimes it’s one expanded idea. The rest of the daily page has become a way to chronicle my day during the pandemic. I have recorded events, dinners created, fun conversations, a podcast that affected me, a text I got, or just what we did or a game we played. I felt that because we were making history that I wanted to record my individual part. As gruesome as it may seem, somedays I recorded Covid 19 cases in our community and the day we got our first vaccines. These and other tidbits are now a part of our family history. I do record a book I’m reading, anecdotally, with a few comments but keep a separate Reading Journal and a spreadsheet for my official records.
    I love my nightly Journaling and am now buying my 4th journal since I started!!

    • MeganTerrell says:

      The journal during the loss of family members must have been both useful and comforting. I am trying to figure out a way to integrate some “crafty art” like collage into my now very scattered journaling. Right now it is literally, random pages in various notebooks.

  10. I love journaling. My challenge is being able to attend to them all. I have a book journal, where I print out book covers and document about and review books read, a daily, devotional journal, a monthly memory-keeping journal (Archer & Olive-dotted Kraft-strong paper), a project journal, a mixed media creative quotes, stories, etc. journal, and my favorite calendar/household calendar journal -(passionatepennypincher).

  11. Walter says:

    Great minds think alike. I’m doing the exact same thing this year. I call it my foodie journal because I love to cook and dine out.

  12. Teresa says:

    I used to keep a journal of my meal plans by week. But, I never noted if we did something different or didn’t follow the plan for some reason. This year I make a note each day of what we had (I am using the Hobonichi Weeks Mega). I like it! It’s great to look back and see what we ate most often and identify favorites or dislikes. If we try something new and really don’t like it, I will put a sad face next to it as a reminder. I am also cooking through one of Smitten Kitchen’s cookbooks. I note those meals with “SK” and give it a star or sad face.

  13. Stephanie says:

    Ann, I couldn’t help but notice your page was written in pencil. So many recommend pen, but I actually prefer pencil most pages, too. Do you prefer pencil? What does everyone choose?

  14. Amanda Roby says:

    I have the Every Day five year journal you linked to. Like yours, mine had a few previous entries. I decided to fill in each line as I get to it, not worrying if one page starts in 2020 and the next in 2021. It bothers my sense of symmetry, but I think that’s a good growth challenge in itself. Ha ha. As to what to record…. I haven’t yet gotten in a groove, so right now it’s whatever comes to mind. I’m trying to grow my journaling muscle.

  15. Christi says:

    I’ve kept a ‘special meals’ journal for 30-some years! It starts with a warm memorable meal with my mom & dad in-law…..gathered around their big wood table, fellowship, laughter, and love. It turned out to be our last meal together. The journal goes forward recalling Christmas, birthday, Easter meals. It’s THE BEST journal effort I’ve ever made. So glad I did….❤️.

    • Nancy says:

      I have done the same. I write what our family ate for Thanksgiving and Christmas every year. I have enjoyed rereading and recalling various meals. I even write down the meals/ food/decor from parties, showers, etc. I have attended. I have also tried to write about what I think our children may want to know about us or our family that they may not think to ask. For example, I wrote about how their dad and I met and married.

  16. Linda Terry says:

    I keep “what we ate” on my Yahoo calendar. I took a quick class through my WW leader on “meal planning for a month”. I list at 6:00p what we will have each day for the month. Not so specific, but Sunday Dinner, Monday Homemade Soup, Tuesday Air Fryer, Wednesday is Mexican Night, etc. On the day I change to read what we actually ate, Sunday Dinner Cuban Roast Pork, Spuds, Gravy and Salad. I started last April, so almost a year now. For years I have kept “journals” of recipes and each time I make the recipe again I write the date and a note saying “who was here” or “what the occasion” was. Fourth of July Bloody Marys has a lot of comments 😉 !! I think when I am “dead and gone” my kids and grand-kids will have lots of fun remembering happy times. I would highly recommend starting such a GREAT project. At age 77 my books are quite full !! PS I have also kept Holiday and Friends for Dinner menus. Some are in my mom’s handwriting. She would make the list for me as I was driving or cooking. Many wonderful memories. I know it probably sounds like a BIG job, but just start a little at a time…. Best of Luck !! Keeping a Reading Journal is new to me since I saw you with the FabFive and truly enjoying the beginning of a new project for myself. I keep my “notes” in MicroWord. Easy to add entries and keep notes. Wish I had started long ago to remember all the GREAT books I have ready and listened to over the years.

  17. Jessie L. says:

    Love the idea of tracking dinners! I also tend to lose track of new things we try that we enjoy.

    A few years ago, as a goal for the New Year, I started writing something that I’d accomplished toward addressing something that had been bothering me in my calendar/bullet journal every week. It might be small, like finally making a phone call I’ve been avoiding, or huge, like finally replacing our roof last summer.

    It serves as a reminder that I have managed to get things done, even when it feels like I never make progress. It also spurs me to reflect on my week and take action if I haven’t already done something worth recording. I’ve found it to be even more helpful in the doldrums of the past year.

  18. paula says:

    For many many years I have kept a journal of meals that I served to guests or delivered to sick or recovering friends. It’s a huge help to me when I’m out of ideas. And it’s helped me to never repeat the awkward evening when I served the same poor single friend the same pork chop concoction two visits in a row. It’s also a great place to note what was a hit (“they adore strawberry shortcake”) and what wasn’t (“Bill hates peas”). Beginning in the first days of the pandemic I’ve kept a note on my phone entitled Meals. I write what we had or ideas of what we can have, no dates, just a list. Often I just brainstorm what I can cook with what I have on hand. For me the hardest part of cooking is meal planning and even if I just write down what I’ve already done, it’s a plan that can be referred back to!

  19. Noel Ferre says:

    Two things that work for my journal: I keep a page or two to record all doctor’s and dental appointments. That way I don’t have to look through an entire year to find the date of, for instance, my last mammogram. The other page I keep is for clothes worn for zoom presentations when I’m the presenter. Basically just the top. That way I don’t wear the same top 3 times in a row. And if I can sneak one more thing in – l do a lot of genealogy and often look back and don’t feel like I’ve accomplished much over the weeks. This year, I keep two pages per month, divided into weeks and I track my work. It’s amazing to see how all the little things add up over the course of a month!

  20. Pamela Milin says:

    I have been journaling for four years, and I absolutely love it. I decided this year to keep a separate journal just for reading because I read so much.
    This year I also started a budget journal completely separate from my regular journal. So basically I have three journals going, which is OK because I think it is so fun. I’m not the greatest artist, but that’s okay.

  21. Sandra Little says:

    I started journaling while in therapy so it was mostly my insights into my life but then I wanted a place to take notes when I read a book, or write down quotes I liked, or keep my gratitude list or just what I wanted to do today. At first I was uptight that it wasn’t perfect and acceptable and I’ve come to believe it’s ok. It’s a place where I keep my thoughts no matter what they are.

  22. Lindsay says:

    I’ve used the Leuchtturm for years, but I think they must have downgraded their paper quality because suddenly my pens are bleeding through when they never did before. This year I switched to Vivid Scribbles, and I’m loving the thicker paper.

  23. Patti L says:

    I am all over the place journal- wise. I’m in a couple of classes and use a specific journal for those. I have a planner that I kind of journal in. I also do a monthly Photo Book that I get printed every month ( about 10.00). I ten add the words for the places and dates once I get it. It’s made me actually use the pictures on my phone.

  24. Sophia says:

    I just use Ataglance planner refills – admittedly it ain’t pretty, but there’s plenty of space for each day. Reading gets separate pages, which is how I know I read only 35 books last year, instead of a usual 50 or more, and most of what I read was rereads of favorites.

  25. JoEllen Muntz says:

    I love keeping a journal and have used many different formats. Right now I am using a bullet journal and keep notes on my faith and personal goals I am working on. I have a separate journal for reading and a separate for cooking. I too love DALS (I read in a few of the other comments.) Great book, and great idea on recording what my family eats. I started my DALS journal after I read the book and have kept the journal going. We have 3 kids and when I try a new dish I ask them to grade it to see if it is a keeper. I love the concept of bring all my journals tougher as I am trying to simplify whenever I get an idea on efficiency. As my faith journaling has a lot to do with books I am reading that also seems a natural connection.

    Love all the energy from this group.
    Thank you, JoEllen

  26. Donna B. says:

    I must be mentally clogged. I’ve tried several times to journal, but just sit staring at a page and thinking “what the heck is worthwhile writing down?” I’ve bought a pretty journal or two with lovely decorated pages, and … bupkus. I love learning what others write about. But can’t write for the life of me. Am I still a normal person?

    • Barb B in BC says:

      I think there are journallers and not journallers. I have tried for years to keep one and nothing. It’s all good for about three days and then blank. And all those pretty journals, I would love to buy and use and go back to read my thoughts. But it is a waste. I do keep my to do list in one book. I call that my journal.

    • Barb says:

      I have felt exactly this way. But my middle daughter has been bullet journaling and inspired me. So I grabbed an old journal I have and decided to track two habits – I want to eat more fruits and vegetables and I want to exercise each day. The journal is graph paper and so I fill in a square for each food I eat that day and a square for each 15 minutes of exercise. I do one week on the left hand page with food, exercise and also a quote from my spiritual reading of the day. On the right hand page, I work at lettering a quote of some sort to inspire me or make me laugh. I am NOT good at this but I’m finding it to be kind of meditative and fun. And then I have a little space at the bottom of the page for gratitude. It’s not fancy AT ALL but I’m surprised at how much I’m enjoying it.

    • Leslie says:

      I’m a long time journaler, and I believe that anything on your mind is worthwhile writing down. You might find the following helpful, regarding daily journaling, from a blog I follow called lifebygrit.com:
      “Like many other things in life, it’s only difficult until you’ve started. The date, time, 1st sentence will usually be more difficult than the dozens of sentences that follow. Once you start, it’s easy to keep going. Make your goal just one sentence.”

    • Janet K says:

      I used to have a hard time and a pile of pretty journals to show for it. Then one day I started making lists in a plain old notebook. Lists about nothing special (I listed 5 places I want to visit, 5 favorite vacations, a list of books I wanted to read, etc). I found that once I started doing that, it got easier to write other things. The more I wrote, the easier it got. I still prefer plain old notebooks.

  27. Kara says:

    I keep a morning pages notebook as described in Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way. I was stunned at how easily this became an almost daily part of my life! I also keep a separate book journal with a list of books I’ve read, date completed, and memorable passages.
    At the end of each year, I flip through my old calendar to write down the dates of all family members’ doctor/dental/optometrist appointments onto a sticky note, then put that note in my new planner. It makes it much easier to figure out what and when to schedule things in the new year!

  28. Heidi says:

    I have a small woodworking business, and to keep track of everything I got a gridded, spiral-bound Five Star notebook. Each project gets it’s own page, where I sketch the design, add notes about lumber costs, list out still needs to be done, and briefly describe my overall satisfaction with the project and what wood and finishes I ended up using. I also note any new skills I learned. My husband bought me an official Woodworker’s Journal for Christmas, with pages for shop inventories and projects which I’ll probably use for my personal projects.

  29. Amy Senecal says:

    After years of journaling and using separate journals, I decided to compile everything onto one journal so the most helpful tip I have run across is to leave the first few pages blank to index everything. I number each page and jot down the topic in my index for quick and easy referencing. It has been a game changer for me!

  30. Cassie says:

    I have distinct ebbs and flows with my Journaling. I mostly write down what’s bouncing around in my head and my gratitude list. I’m also trying out a written book log. I will also make notes about any experiments I’m tracking: food sensitivities, schedule changes.

  31. Tess says:

    Oh, Anne! Please tell me your next book is going to be about time management! I am in awe of your detailed record keeping, and I know what the time cost is for such activities. I have journal/record keeping activities across several different pads, calendars, and notebooks. To do lists, rough drafts of letters, and random notes go on a legal yellow pad; scheduled appointments go in my spiral bound calendar; books read go in a small lined Moleskin journal which is shared with my commonplace book of quotes; online account information goes in a larger Moleskin lined journal with alphabetical tabs. All entries are as streamlined as possible to save time because, as someone once said, “I’ld rather be reading”!

  32. Diana says:

    I keep a Soul Journal. Each morning I do a seated meditation for 10-12 minutes. Then after I’m done I jot down whatever word or words, quote, phrase, paragraph pops into my heart/soul that day. Next day, I come back to what I wrote the day before, read it, and then repeat a meditation and note process for that day. Occasionally looking back, it is fun to see what has been on your heart and in your soul from time to time.

  33. Tess says:

    And I almost forgot until I read someone else’s entry. I keep a separate notebook as a gratitude journal for use when time allows and the spirit moves me.

  34. Michelle Harrison says:

    I don’t journal, but for the past several years I’ve kept two month at a glance calendars. One is for meals that we had (mostly dinners) and the other is for outfits I wore. I note if we had company in the meal one and if I met with any clients or friends in the outfit calendar. Then I can easily check what I made/wore the last time I interacted with people so I don’t repeat. For me, this is super freeing. I spent too much energy before trying to remember if I had just cooked or worn something. It’s the best feeling to look back and say, it’s been a month since we’ve had tacos, so we should definitely have them this week!

  35. Corrie says:

    I am a reader, a writer, a teacher (currently on pause), and also like making lists. I often journal about story ideas, dreams I can remember, poems, character or baby names, and what I’ve been doing lately. Sometimes I do a bullet list of the days of the week with a brief description of 1 main thing I did that day, along with a note about that night’s supper menu. I have kept a journal since I was 13 (so, almost 30 years, now). I don’t usually plan it out ahead of time, but sometimes I include lists of what I’ve read recently, or authors I want to find. I can’t seem to keep everything in one place : ), but at least most of what I want is in the current journal.

  36. Cheryl says:

    I have never journaled, I have lots of notebooks with a few pages filled, but that’s it. Is it ever too late to start journaling? How do you find the right journal?

    • Marsha Hamm says:

      No, I don’t think it’s ever too late. My experience was the same as yours until a little over five years ago when a serious medical diagnosis came. A friend who had been through a similar experience brought a colorful spiral-bound journal (probably from Target)to me and said, “You need to record your experiences and reflections.” Somehow I have managed to keep up with it (most days). Most of the time it’s just reflections on the day’s activities but I hope to expand it a bit, especially reflecting on people and experiences
      from the past that my children and grandchildren might find interesting.

  37. Tamara says:

    I have kept a record of what we ate for the last 18 years. This used to be in a separate notebook that I also used for grocery lists. Now I have a Dinners section in my weekly spread. It’s fun to look back and see what we ate before kids & after kids. Now that our children are teenagers, it fun chronicling the meals they are choosing to make for their weekly dinner duty night.
    For the last few years I’ve used my tracking area to record cardio, stretching, strength training, & miles walked. Recently I’ve started recording specific workouts (we subscribe to Studio Sweat On Demand) in my weekly spread. That’s been helpful to note favorite workouts & to remind myself to try new ones.
    I keep two reading journals. A guided book journal by One Canoe Two that has space for likes, dislikes, notes & quotes, rating, related reading, & genre for each book entry. In my other one I track by year the books I’ve read, books I’ve listened to for myself & ones I’ve read & listened to with my kids.
    I’ve tried keeping a teaching journal but beyond my lesson plan book I’ve yet to find a useful format. What I would love is if traditional 6 period plan books would actually include adequate space for reflection on each day’s lessons. I tried doing this once in a bullet journal but 5 X 7 is too small. Any suggestions that don’t include the $$$ custom planners on Etsy are appreciated!

  38. Cynthia Pratt says:

    I have been journaling up a storm since the pandemic started. I use a Levenger disk bound notebook and the preprinted month over two pages with a list of what I want to accomplish this month and any books preordered to arrive, then a habit tracker on grid paper, followed by preprinted weekly pages which include chores and workouts. The back of each page is next weeks chore list. Also sticky notes of TBR (using your system to tackle one shelf of my bookcase). Next section is lined paper for anything I want to write about and there has been a lot. Usually average at least 40 pages per month. I only have room for one month in a notebook then it has to be archived. I have a separate book journal where I manage readathons, books that might interest me, series lists by my favorite authors etc. Also separate bound notebook for book reviews.

  39. Edith says:

    I journal my books and have a gratitude journal. Lately I started journaling about my mood, if one day I felt really low I would think “I have been feeling sad” but it was actually just a day if I started to think about it. So now I track my mood per day, and if one day I feel anxious I can look back and my week and confidently say “is just a bad day” because my week was great <3

  40. Kari A Sweeney says:

    Specific to my Book Journal. A couple of years ago our friend Donna Hetchler suggested making a list of ‘Favorites’ to reference for when friends ask me for recommendations. I made a list in 2018 by genre- Historical Fiction, UpLit, etc. I just revisited the list and updated it in my 2021 Book Journal. Candidly- originally I wasn’t sure how often I’d reference the list. I thought it would just be a pretty page in my journal. Jokes on me- I referenced it a lot. I’m so glad I took the time to curate those lists and put them to paper.

  41. Lauren says:

    This year, I’m trying a new daily journaling exercise related to my job. At the end of the day when I close my laptop at my work-from-home desk, I pull out a notebook and write down three or four things I worked on that day, or important conversations I had. I call it my “ta da! list” and it’s quickly becoming a critical part of my work/life balance endeavors. It allows me to close the door on the day and acknowledge where I moved a ball forward or tackled a tough conversation. It’s especially important when my to-do list is long and my day gets interrupted with unanticipated issues. Writing down what I accomplished helps me keep perspective.

  42. Kari A Sweeney says:

    Lazy Sunday mornings have become a standing date with my book journal. I reflect at what I read the past week and take a look at the week ahead. I jot down notes and quotes. I take a look at my ‘Books to be Read’ lists and edit- delete, add or reprioritize. I curate my priority TBR. Sometimes it’s a quick coffee date- just enough time spent journaling before my coffee gets cold. Other weeks it’s a multi-course meal kind of date- lots of thoughts & feelings that take me to dessert.

  43. Love this post and reading everyone’s comments! I journal introspectively about my day and what’s happening in current events. I like to think someone will read my journal a hundred years from now and see history recorded. I have a special journal for my book reviews. I also have a bullet journal, in which I’m still getting the kinks worked out. (I started doing artsy colorful spreads, but I felt it was too time consuming, so not sure what will become of that one.) Maybe just a simple bullet journal will be my go-to method using lots of different colorful pens.

  44. Allison says:

    So many great ideas!!!!
    I actually have two separate books:
    I have a day planner from Sacred Ordinary Days. I use that to jot down appointments, meals, Scriptures, things I’ve accomplished, anything I’ve done in a given day. Some days…it may say “Migraine,” since I suffer from chronic migraines, or other days it just says “Reading Day,” because…books. 🙂

    I also keep a journal. I have SO. MANY. JOURNALS. When I pass away, I think my children will sit down and cry as they look at the floor to ceiling shelves FILLED with my journals!!! I don’t know what they will do with them honestly.
    Mostly, they are spiritual in nature: they reflect my relationship with the Lord, what is happening in my life, my reflections on life and so on. I date them in the front both by regular date and the Liturgical Date.
    I have been journaling consistently for at least 25 years. If I live another 25+ years (I am 60) and am able to keep journaling through all those years…well…God bless the child/grandchild/great-grandchild tasked with caring for my journals! LOL

  45. Brenda says:

    I started a dinner log yesterday evening, but mine is an Excel spreadsheet, so my husband, who does most of the cooking (but gets stuck in ruts), can see it. He’s a digital guy, and we’re both scientists. In my bullet journal, I keep track on a monthly log of what yoga and workout routines I do (yoga every day), gratitude (previously a free-form log, now dates added to the free-form), and on a calendar I track housework (e.g. watering plants) that isn’t obvious just by looking. Every daily entry has four boxes running down the right side that I fill in with it’s own color (color palette changes monthly) for Meditation, Yoga, Workout, and hobby (K/S/R/W/A: knit, sew, read, write (I’m an amateur poet), or art). It’s kind of a game to see how much I can accomplish in a day, and which hobby I choose each day.

  46. Lynette says:

    I’m not currently a journaler. I’ve had many journaling starts and stops, which have resulted in many journals with only a few pages written on. I recently listened to a podcast episode about the powers of journaling (and bought the discussed book ‘Let It Out: A Journey Through Journaling’ by Katie Dalebout), so we’ll see what results….(fingers crossed)
    Although I haven’t ever journaled about recipes or meals, I have in the past few years started making notes in cookbooks about recipes I have fixed. I include the date I first made the recipe, any changes I made (or would consider making the next time around), and an overall review (sometimes even including the occasion for which the recipe was made). I have found this practice to be extremely helpful when trying to recall past likes/dislikes. Adding the date and personal opinions/memories makes it feel a bit like a journal…or an interesting record, nonetheless.

  47. Jaime says:

    I think the only thing I record in my journal that’s out of the ordinary is that each month I save a page for my dog’s health. She’s getting up in age and it’s helpful to be able to track milestones (like vet visits) or just unusual occurrences that I want to track in case it leads to something more serious. I’m never sad when a page for the month ends up blank bc that means nothing happened – but I’m ALWAYS glad when I have notes to recount to the vet if needed.

  48. Liberty Montano says:

    Great post! I’m using the Happy Planner Bookish 2020-2021 planner for my reading journal this year and I love it (very thick paper). Their planners used to all come with a ‘currently’ page at the beginning of the month with blanks to jot down what you’re currently eating, pinning, feeling, etc. (They don’t anymore. #sadface) It’s what really turned me onto their planners in the first place. So now I create my own version at the beginning of the month and then also jot down 3 things that are on my mind each week. It can be stuff like major news events, a project I’m really focused on or a gratitude list. That way when I look back at my journal I have some emotional context. And that can help me track my own growth as a human person. =D

  49. Barbara J. says:

    One of my most helpful journal pages is titled, The Last Time I . . . Time passes so quickly and I lose track of how much of it has elapsed for both important and trivial things. When WAS the last time I thoroughly cleaned our bathrooms? Called my brother? Wrote an encouraging note? Changed out my mascara? Took Motrin? Some of my trackings relate to goals, some to budgetary things, being a better housekeeper, my health.
    My other favorite page is an illustrated ongoing one where I record the dates of fun annual spring events: first robin sighted, when we first heard the peepers each year, when my daffodils opened, when our little lake thawed, how many goslings hatched and when we first saw them. That page is hope-filled as winter can drag on in Upstate NY!

  50. coco says:

    i love journaling, started amidst the pandemic. now I use journal to keep track of project/plans, gratitude lists, recipes to try, best quotes/podcasts I listen.
    I also use it to keep track of my mood, sleep, exercise, etc. I do record my meals to identify triggers for GI symptoms but what a great idea to track dinners of the family. will definitely do that.

  51. Julie Farver says:

    Anne, I have a block on journaling! I just can’t write down anything that I know someone else will read. Is there anyone else out there that feels this way?? I really want to get past it because there are a lot of thought inside me that I would like to get out!! Help!!!

  52. Last year I started a journal that just is for our meals. I’ll write down meals that I’ve planned for, write down recipes if we’re trying something new, and then put a star next to the things that we extra liked! It’s been nice to go back through and consult the list when we’re planning meals rather than reinventing the wheel every week.

  53. A says:

    I started journaling again this year to write about the coronavirus and my pandemic experience. Writing helped with my isolation and anxiety a lot! At first I thought of it as a fun historical artifact to pass down, but it became much more meditative and pensive and a way to help me figure out things, too. I mix in fun lists sometimes, like what I’ve been reading or other things like that. But usually I write down my thoughts about the day, either events in my personal life or reflections on larger events, local or national, etc.

  54. Jane says:

    I have a journal for all of my thoughts and feelings – I’ve been keeping those kinds of journals regularly since I was 12/13 and have some from when I was 6/7. But I use a planner for everything else. I kind of love having the two different books to look over at the end of the year. The planner shows me what I did and what I got done in a year while the journal shows how I felt about it. Of course I could have it all in the one book like a bullet journal but that has just never worked for me! So I have the two!

    • Christine Scott says:

      I want to add another type I keep…separate journals for my kids. I started when they were born and I record notes to them about something they did or said that day. I don’t write in them regularly, but the idea is to have the book filled up before they move out of the house.

  55. Janet says:

    I write about any dreams that I remember. I include things my neighbor and I discussed during our daily walk (the only time I get out of my home these days). My niece keeps a photo journal that she posts on FB each evening and has pic of her 2 girls (homeschooling, activities like riding bikes, working on a puzzle, playing video games, visiting the library). She takes a shot of the exercise she has done that day, a pic of the food she prepared for her family, one of the book she is reading, and updates of her embroidery. I love that she shares that so that I can feel like a “fly on the wall!”

  56. Laura says:

    @anne Anne, have you ever said—how many hours a day, or a week, do you read? I’ve recently had to schedule an hour a day of reading because some days (sadly) I don’t read at all. Just curious.

  57. Suzy says:

    So many journalers here! I didn’t know I was part of such a community! I kept a real diary from age 12 to 20, and started keeping a Book List at 12, which I’ve kept up faithfully. I once kept a list of paychecks and expenditures. Every year I buy a new desk engagement book with a pretty cover (and sometimes pictures inside) and put in what happened that day, and try to be specific with names, prices, and places (walked with Joyce, Cindy and Jen) (bought a new TV at Walmart for $300) (hit the jackpot at the library with 3 new books!) I often mention weather, and I have a green marker to use for mentioning when things bloom (“tulips are out!”)…In my purse, I have a thin date book for appts, both mine and my mother’s. Here’s one I didn’t see mentioned: A wedding journal. Not mine, but the 40+ others I have attended! Date, bride and groom, attendants, speaker, venue, colors, weather, and anything else noteworthy. Has come in handy for anniversary cards and memories! When I was newly married I bought my husband a Weather Station, and ended up faithfully logging all the data in a notebook EVERY day for 3 years until it broke. It’s a complete weather record of those years! Then there are Trip Journals—part of the fun of preparing for a trip is going out and buying a small pretty journal to record my adventures, I haven’t missed one yet! France (4x), England, Scotland, Santorini, Malta, Prague, the Caribbean….Invaluable. Especially when trying to remember where the pictures were taken or the names of people we met. Fun to read, too. Another journal: copious notes from Bible talks and Bible conventions. Helps me pay attention. And yes, for a while, I was journaling pandemic numbers, too….

  58. Hayley says:

    I have bought many beautiful journals and diaries but can’t bring myself to write in them beacause they’re too beautiful. Instead I write on legal pads whenever I feel like it and unpack my head so no expectations about what I should write about. I just date the page and freeflow my thoughts, sometimes adding to it throughout the day. I then keep the pages in date order in a folder and transfer to a boxfile at the end of each year. I find when I process my thoughts in this way I need to do a lot less external processing. I have done this for over 20 years. During Lockdown last year I dug out all the 29 March (random date I picked) pages and typed them up to see whether any themes emerged. The pages consistently covered all the things that are important to me – my faith, my family, my work, what I was reading and listening to, things worrying me, things that brought me joy and finally progress with pushing back the chaos in our house – number of dishdraws stacked and loads of laundry done.

  59. Veronica says:

    My husband is the main cook in our family and we were struggling to remember what he made for dinners, so last year I gave him this 5 year journal to record what he makes for dinner every day. https://www.amazon.com/Cooks-One-Line-Day-Five-Year/dp/1452118973/ It works fairly well.
    I also have a separate five year journal in which I record the birds we see on our property every day. I don’t always get to it every day, but it gives me a good idea of when different kinds of birds arrive in the area.

  60. For some years I’ve been journalling about three gratitudes per day and one act of courage I’ve performed that day (this can be – and often is – something VERY small) but it feels like an important ritual for me.

  61. Sandy says:

    I’ve kept many journals over the years (starting and stopping) but used the Panda Planner (a quarterly calendar) as a journal for the last 2 years. It really helped as I processed by grief after the loss of my mom. I use my I phone Notes for most lists and like the digital but prefer the journal for creative / inner thought processing. However, I really don’t want my kids or grandkids reading anything that I’ve written – Am I alone here ?! Nothing dark but honestly the thought of someone reading my journals often stops me from journaling!

  62. Terri says:

    I started journaling when I retired three years ago. It is the best part of my day. Journal content varies depending what is going on each day and how I am feeling. I’ve captured life as it is happening and remember back to days long ago. I make lists, track my reading and examine where I might be headed in the future. I love a spiral bound journal.

    In addition to my personal journal I keep a journal for each of my grandsons. I do it in a letter format and talk about fun things we have done, applaud them for their accomplishments, and note milestones. Each journal entry is a reminder that even though I may not be with them everyday, They are always in my heart. Someday, when they have kids of their own or I am gone, they will get these journals. A legacy of love to my sweet boys.

    I use an Instagram account as my food journal. Being vegan, when people ask me what I eat I point them to my Instagram. It is also a visual reminder when I am trying to figure out what to cook.

  63. I used to keep several journals for different topics. This year, after buying my annual large Moleskine daily journal, I decided to put everything in one-ish * journal. I still have a large weekly desk planner that I keep on my desk and use for keeping track of my week, books, daily habit tracker, etc. And now I’m using my Moleskine for Morning Pages, brainstorming, Bible journaling, goals and gratitude. The weekly planner (Roterunner Purpose Planner) stays on my desk and my Moleskine goes everywhere with me. I’m excited about trying this system- so far it’s working well for me!

  64. Cathy says:

    I have been loving the Next Right Thing Guided Journal! It is a place for beautiful and important self reflection in so many areas of your life. Emily P. Freeman also wrote a book last year called The Next Right Thing which I highly recommend as well. Her weekly podcasts with the same name kept me sane and continue to keep me sane during Covid.
    Peace & grace,
    Cathy

    • Megan Kinney says:

      @Cathy, I’ve been using that one too! I appreciate the prompts to force me to be more contemplative in my journaling.

  65. In 2019, I started logging the movies, concerts, and live theater, and weekend trips. I wish I had done it all of my life because I can’t bring to mind every place or show unless I find an artifact or a memory pops up.

    My 2020 Journal had a nice section for all of this. Yeah, we went to two comedy shows before lockdown. I’m still logging, though! Weekend drives to the beach count!

  66. Michelle says:

    After a few starts and stops, I’ve been consistently using a bullet journal as my daily planner for several years now. Last year I took part in a 20 20’s in 2020 and that became the focus of my planner. I’m doing it again this year and have found so much joy in choosing tasks for the week that move me closer to my goals for 2021. I also add in appointments, meetings, and other minutiae for the week. The few habits I track are kept in there as is a running list of the books I’ve read. I just started doing morning pages, but have chosen to use a cheap spiral notebook for that purpose as I have no intention of keeping it or even rereading it. I use that as a brain dump and am absolutely amazed at its effectiveness.

  67. Liz N. says:

    I started keeping a cooking journal when my bread-baking notes were scribbled all over the place: on pages of books, on sticky notes stuck into cookbooks, in a disorganized file folder.

    For each recipe, everything from where I purchased a hard-to-find ingredient to how long I pulverized garlic to how many turns of the dough (every little thing you usually forget to take note of but kick yourself over later)…basically, if the recipe and the making of it call for it, I wrote it down.

    It’s one of the best things I’ve done for myself, and I don’t know why I never thought of it before.

  68. Sharon says:

    Absolutely, yes!!! I have a running log of the last 4 years of meal plans for the week on the notes app on my phone. Then when I sit down to plan for the next week, I alter it to what we actually ate. It’s a great record of our family’s meal history and serves as a reminder of what we did and didn’t love as I make notations, plans, and lists for the weeks ahead. I frequently sit with cookbooks or the Pinterest app on my phone for meal planning so this made sense to have it all one place. That way when I shop (pre-pandemic) I never forget my lists.

  69. Sally says:

    Every Christmas, my husband gives me a new Circa journal from Levenger. I love that I can take out or add pages, and changes things around in my journal. I can also use dotted paper or lined, depending on what I’m writing. 4 things that I do every year that I have loved keeping track of:
    1) At the front of my journal I place the names and birthday, in order of months, of all my people.
    2) I have several pages dedicated to recommendations that I see, read or people give me; Netflix shows to watch, books to read, podcasts to listen to, blogs to follow.
    3) I write the names of everyone I give a Christmas gift to, and when I think of a good gift idea or someone mentions something they’d like to have, I have a space to write it down. I then add to the list what was bought and given to each person, that way I can go back years later to make sure I don’t give the same thing twice.
    4) I make a packing list for our annual beach trip, then after the week is up, make notes as to what worked, whether or not I need to take more or less of something, what we ate, where we ate out, and any fun memories I want to remember.
    Because of the Circa journal pages, I can easily transfer these pages to the next year if I need to.

  70. Robin says:

    I’ve been keeping track of “what we ate” in my bullet journal for a few years now. I’m not a meal planner and most of the time I don’t cook from recipes, but I love having a record of our meals. It helps to look back and quickly see if we haven’t had, for example, an egg dish or a pasta dish in a while or just did three days ago (which I always forget after a few days). I just note it at the bottom of each day’s scheduled activities.

  71. I have a 5 year journal that I am now in year 5 of, that I use to track the books I’ve read on each date, the number for the year when I complete one, tv shows or movies I watch each day (and who in my family I watch them with, we do family movie night on Fridays and it’s nice having that record on what we’ve watched with our kids!), miles I run (when I run, I don’t in the winter), and anything else significant (snow days, 1st and last days of school, etc.). I’m a little sad I’ll have to start a new one in 2022 because it’s just so nice to look back each day and see what I was reading and watching and if I’m ahead or behind on total books read for the year! (I use Goodreads to track my TBR and rate books, this is just for what I’ve actually been reading.)

  72. Angela says:

    Someone earlier mentioned the Day One App. I have used this for more than five years. My two favorite features are “on this day” to show memories of that day from years past, and the tag feature. I “tag” photos of food: either things I’ve made or food from a restaurant and I can easily pull up all entries with that tag and see what we’ve eaten over the years and how our meals have changed with time. It syncs on different devices, so I can capture a photo and then type up the entry on my computer later on. It’s by far my favorite app and and it’s a blessing to look back on where I was in life and where I am now. 🙂

  73. Pamela C says:

    So interesting… I keep a bullet journal too and shortly after the covid-19 pandemic started, I began to include a covid diary. This has grown to include the day we’re in since lockdown began, where we walked and how many steps,the temperature, the hours of daylight and stuff about covid in the UK. I use the threading technique, rather than reserving pages, and put an arrow and the page number that comes next, and on that page, and back arrow and the page it come from.

    At the very back, I also keep recipe ideas, conversions, instant pot timings learned from experience. These are the pages I often come back to in a new journal, so I copy the most important ones across.

    My current journal favourite is the ZenART Dotted Journal – lovely slightly flexible and lighter in weight than some I’ve tried.

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