Updated: Oct 5, 2021
Journaling, reflecting, tracking. These are all different ways of understanding ourselves and figuring out our life strategy. Still, whenever I hear these, I think of a writing journal. A notebook for writing about the inner workings of my mind and soul.
Some of us are just not that into writing out our thoughts and feelings. And that’s okay.
Here are 7 different journals to get you started if you're not into journaling.
1. Art Journals
Perhaps you're a visual person. Art journals are a great way to reflect and explore new mediums - even for the non-artistic.
Art journaling includes collages, drawings, sketches, painting, stamping, even writing or digital illustrations. In the end, it doesn’t matter what you do, it doesn’t even have to be in a journal. It’s a way to explore ideas and experiment without judgment.
2. Gratitude Journals
Making a gratitude journal can be as simple as writing a daily list of what you are grateful for that day on your phone, a notebook, or on a computer - anywhere that’s convenient for you.
It’s best to do it at the end of the day to reflect on the positive things that happened, or to do it at the beginning of the day to remember what happened the day before to get you in a positive mindset.
If you are ever going through a difficult period, you have your gratitude journal to remember all the positive things in life because “gratitude and negative emotion can’t co-exist.”
3. A Positivity Folder
Similar to a gratitude journal but a positivity folder focuses on saving all the nice, positive, and encouraging things others have said about you or you say about yourself. You build up a repository of compliments that you can always go back to whenever self-doubt comes in or if you are looking for feedback to justify your awesomeness.
Creating this positive folder is as simple as saving screenshots of comments and conversations on your phone or computer (be conscientious of the people in your snapshot). It could even be scribbles of all the nice things people say about you in a notebook or on our phone. In the end, you want to capture all the compliments that you so thoroughly deserve.
You can see how Studio SENSIBILITE uses a Positivity Folder.
4. Habit and Mood Trackers
Regular reflection and journaling help you track your journey and uncover patterns. Using a habit and mood tracker is a data-driven and visual approach to tracking your evolution that takes less than a minute of daily effort.
These trackers raise awareness of your daily mood, habits, routines, etc. It can be as complex as tracking your daily food intakes or bodily changes, or it can be as simple as recording your mood of the day and checking daily habits.
In the long-term, you'll see how you’ve changed and what influences your behavior and mood. In the short term, it raises awareness of what’s working for you and what’s not.
5. Mind Map Journals
Sometimes we just need to get our thoughts out and don’t have time for writing full sentences. If that’s how you’re feeling or your approach to writing, try mind map journals.
These let you get the word, ideas, events, and phrases out quickly. You can use them as a brain dump, as a space to explore different ideas, or as a quick reflection. Then you can group or connect things together to make sense of your writing.
Over time you’ll see themes and words arise and change in your mind maps.
6. Collection Journals
Another journal is to write down and collect what inspires you or things you want to check out. This way you won’t worry about forgetting it, and you'll see how your tastes change or find that memorable quote again.
Things you can collect are quotes, books, movies, songs, ideas, places, flowers, memories, pictures, whatever floats your boat! The point is to put it in a place that you return to and always find inspiration or lovely memories.
7. Bullet Journals
For people who like to organize multiple things in one, bullet journaling is a great system to try. Bullet journaling was a system developed by Ryder Carroll to track the past, organize the present, and plan the future.
Bullet journaling is a modular, flexible, and rapid journaling system that combines many of the journals we talked about (e.g. habit trackers, gratitude lists, and collections), and more in one place. You simply design the layouts and journal whatever you want at that point in your life.
The best part is that if you don’t like one system for one month or week, you can easily change it the next.
For a quick intro to bullet journaling from Ryder Carroll, check out BulletJournal.com. There are also bullet journaling communities on Youtube, Reddit, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. with individuals creating elaborate artistic designs to simple note-taking systems.
These are just a few types of journals to help you get thoughts, ideas, and reflections out without worrying about writing. The more you try different types of journaling, you'll begin to figure out what you like to do and what works best for you.
In the end, you don’t have to artistic, super organized, or do it every day, you just have to enjoy the process and find it beneficial.
About the author:
Elizabeth Harris is an avid journaler who has been experimenting with different journaling methods and types of journals for the past 4 years in her bullet journal.
A former product manager at a tech firm, Elizabeth is a storyteller and creator. She launched her vegetarian food blog, egh delights, to empower everyday chefs to incorporate a plant-based diet into their day-to-day. In 2020, she founded Toastee Mag, a digital magazine raising a toast to the extraordinary things of everyday people.
You can learn more about Elizabeth on her website.