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How I Use My Journals (The 2017 Edition)

“If you want to write, you need to keep an honest unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you.”
—Madeleine L’Engle

Photo by Tammy Strobel

During 2017, I’ll be using the following notebooks/planners:

1. Pen & Ink 3.5 x 5.5″ Notebook. Originally, I began using the Pen & Ink journal to record gratitude lists, tiny pleasures, and observations about my day. However, I decided to turn this notebook into a bullet journal because it’s the perfect size to slip into my pocket and carry everywhere with me.

2. Generic composition notebook. In September 2016, I read a fascinating essay (see here) about basic composition notebooks. I was so inspired by the article that I purchased a few composition notebooks from the Dollar Store and began using the notebooks to write first drafts of blog posts, courses, and more.

3. Hobonichi 4.1 x 5.9” Techo Planner with a royal blue cover. I learned about the planner on Instagram. It’s described as:

“. . . a Japanese daily planner from the creators of the website Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shimbun, or ‘Hobonichi’—who set out to make the kind of planner they would use. Designed for maximum customizability, it evolves every year based on customer input.”

I’m using the monthly calendar feature to map out business projects, the daily list section as an exercise log, and I’m utilizing the daily pages to record:

  • Something that made me happy
  • Something I’m grateful for
  • Something I learned

Finally, the book is stitch-bound, the Tomoe River paper is luscious, and the paper is sturdy enough to handle fountain pen ink.

4. Mindful Budgeting 2017 Planner. During 2016, Logan and I reviewed our income, expenses, and savings goals each month. In 2017, we’re going to have weekly money meetings because we want to stay on track with our savings goals. In addition to Mint, the Mindful Budgeting Planner will be a great tool to track our numbers and reflect on our financial progress.

How I Deal with My Old Notebooks

I keep my old planners for business purposes, and I’ve started to hold onto travel and adventure journals because they bring me joy. I shred my other notebooks every six months. Before I shred my journals, I reread the entries. As I read, I jot down themes that I want to revisit, reflect on, or write about in the public sphere.

Keeping a large archive of old journals isn’t that important to me. The act of writing daily is what brings value and joy to my life.

Plus, my daily writing habit helps me:

  • Stick with creative rituals like photography and blogging
  • Simplify my life
  • Reexamine my relationship with money
  • Write books
  • Unplug from the Internet
  • Remember what I’m learning
  • Practice gratitude

What about you?

What types of journals and/or planners are you using in 2017?

Extra Reading:

How I Use My Desire Map Day Planner—The Desire Map Day Planner was my main planner in 2014, 2015, and for a portion of 2016. I decided to change my planner in 2017 because I wanted to try a new system.

My Analog Tools—a list of my 2015 journaling tools and a few tips for you.

How I Use My Journals—the 2014 edition.

On Grief and Notebooks—an essay about how I used journaling to cope with grief and why I shredded my journals in 2014.

With gratitude,

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Kayla Dawn Thomas January 9, 2017, 3:34 pm

    I love composition notebooks for drafting my novels and blog posts. I love that they lay flat and don’t have a spiral to get in the way of my left hand. Plus, they are inexpensive and come in all kinds of cute prints. I’ve also used handmade journals made from old hardback books. They are beautiful and I feel special when I’m using them, but they don’t lay flat, which is a frustration when transcribing.

  • Sandra Pawula, Always Well Within January 9, 2017, 4:04 pm

    I’m love getting a peak into your journals, Tammy. I use a Passion Planner for my main planning purposes and calendar. I have been using Eco-System journals, but they are not carrying the ones with colorful covers on Amazon anymore so I don’t know what’s next for that purpose. I feel I need something more than a planner for this purpose. Then I use composition books or whatever notebooks I can find about that size for daily note taking and brainstorming.

  • Amanda S @ Passionately Simple Life January 9, 2017, 5:01 pm

    Usually, every year I get a straight up planner. However, this year I was able to find something that had three or four days in the two page spread and at the end of every week a page with just lines. For someone who is so busy and always on the go, I find this setup quite wonderful. I’m using this page to jot down notes or ideas from the week that I need more space for and or quick summaries as to how my goals for 2017 are going.

  • Jen Farrant January 10, 2017, 3:43 am

    I use a A6 notebook as my bullet journal as it is always with me. I then use a A5 lechuturrm for morning page and then a notebook per project too. Last year I tried having one notebook for everything and it was just too confusing.

    As I always have my bullet journal I can jot something down and transfer if needs be.

  • Sas January 12, 2017, 2:56 am

    Love this post!
    I have a moleskin for infrequent journalling when I am working through something. Writing helps me to untangle my thoughts and feelings like nothing else.
    And I am using a Hobonichi for the first time – love those tiny pages! – as a daily practice to record the ways I am bringing my big themes to life.
    I have an annual business planning process and Mr P and I have a giraffe child’s height chart that we are using to track our savings. We have a goal to buy our next (forever) house before 2020 🙂

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