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Who else has enough blank journals to last a lifetime yet still keeps buying more? (Guilty as charged!)
Those cute covers with the quotes that just speak to your soul and somehow demand that you buy them get me every time! Starting to write in a blank notebook is oh-so-satisfying, and exciting. It’s a fresh slate, a perfect vehicle to express yourself, organize your time, and dream your dreams. But it’s up to you to fill its pages.
That’s where the anxiety can come in.
For a lot of people, the scary part of actually using your fresh, fabulous, cute new journal comes before they even pick up a pen. I know so many people who, in their quest for perfection, don’t write in their notebooks because they’re worried that something better might come along that they’ll wish they’d saved that journal for.
I’ve been guilty of this from time to time, I’ll admit. It’s silly and kind of a waste. Similar to holding off on committing to an invitation that came in on Tuesday because you’re worried something better might come along, then finding yourself home alone on Saturday night, eating leftover pizza and watching reruns of Shark Tank.
But here’s the good news: there is pretty much an endless supply of cute, inexpensive journals at your nearest TJ Maxx or Homegoods just waiting to be bought and written in! Hooray! Or, you can always opt to put your own personal touch on a handmade one!
(No TJ Maxx or Homegoods in your areas? Amazon has notebooks too. Here are a few that I like.)
I have stacks of really lovely journals laying around and going to waste. Pushing through my perfectionism and realizing I can always get more was kind of a eureka moment for me – not to mention a very happy thought. Because I really cannot resist a cute journal.
Yes, while researching this post, I ended up ordering two of the journals listed above. But that’s okay. Because after my big wake-up call, I figured out that all I needed was a list of ideas on what to do with them. Honestly, the possibilities are almost as bottomless as the supply of journals, but here are ten of my favorites.
Ten Ways to Use Notebooks:
1. Recipes & Meal Plans
I remember my days as a young mom when I spent hours on weekly meal planning. I wanted menus that balanced healthy eating with easy prep for those busy nights filled with soccer practice and homework. I also had to keep variety, kid-friendliness, and budgets in mind. That’s always a challenge, but before Pinterest, it was even harder! Writing down recipes and meal plans is a fantastic way to cut down on grocery bills and keep track of what your family enjoys (or doesn’t) so you can make it again (or not).
An encouraging way to see your prayers come to fruition is to write them down. You can reflect back on each season of life and see the role God’s hand at work. I enjoy praying for others. I challenge myself to pray for strangers whom I barely know, friends, family, neighbors, and even people I may not like (sometimes especially then). Writing these prayers down not only is another way to pray but also is a good way to hold yourself accountable to praying. Be sure to put dates beside the prayers as well as the dates when they were answered. It can be a huge encouragement when you look back.
3. Things you are Grateful For
I challenge you to take ten minutes each day to write what you are thankful for. Do it for as many days as there are pages in your journal. You will be shocked by the things you come up with. It starts out as the usual things, family, a home, food. But then, the magic happens! You begin to dig deeper and become thankful for things you didn’t even realize you were thankful for. Keeping a gratitude journal can really be life-changing.
4. Notebook for Shopping Lists and Budgeting
One of my favorite ways to use notebooks is for Christmas gifts. I cannot tell you how many times I have either overbought or forgot I already had something for Aunt Sheila! Keeping shopping lists help you stick to your budget. You can write weekly budget goals for different items and keep track of your progress.
5. Notebook for Tracking Goals
I use this for fitness. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to keep myself moving and be able to look back on the progress I have made. I am sure I am not the only one who struggles with holding themselves accountable to fitness goals, right? You can keep a simple list or make a chart for each week.
6. As a Travel Journal
“Honey, remember that time we went to Kauai, remember that restaurant? What was it called? The one with the fish? You don’t remember? Darn. Neither do I.”
Conversations like the one above are why you need a travel journal in your life. Travel journals are great not only for recalling where you went and what you loved, but also for soaking in what you are experiencing and allowing yourself to look back on moments past. Record the highlights of each day and insert photos, ticket stubs, postcards etc.
7. A Brain Dump
Next on the list of ways to use notebooks is a brain dump. One of the best things to do with a blank notebook is to keep it by your bed. In the middle of the night when you wake up and think of that thing you forgot to tell so and so you can write it down and go back to sleep. You can write things you don’t want to forget in an instant and revisit them at a more convenient time. This has been a game-changer for me.
8. Daily Lists
In my office, I keep a list each day of what I need to accomplish. The act of checking something off a list is one of life’s simplest pleasures. It also keeps me focused on what I need to do each day. A journal can work for this but I actually use these sticky notes from the Living Well Shop. They help me prioritize my tasks by what I have to get done, should get done, and might like to get done. I like that I can stick them anywhere – refrigerator, desk, the dashboard of my car. I also like those bright cheery colors!
9. Reading Log
Would I even be an author if this wasn’t on my list? If you love books but read so many that you forget what you have read, then a reading log is perfect for you. It’ll help you keep from buying the same books twice. (Case in point: that time we moved and I found out we had four copies of the same Roosevelt biography.)
Your log can be as simple as the title, author, and date-read. Or it can be more detailed, with a summary, notes of your favorite quotes, favorite characters, and an overall review of the book. You can organize your list chronologically, alphabetically or by the author’s name, or by genre. Some people like to draw bookshelves with spines of books and write the names of the books in the spines.
10. A Diary
Diaries are so personal and freeing. If you spend time with yourself every day, sharing what you don’t want to share with the whole world can be an amazing release. You can get creative here. You don’t always have to write your entries. I enjoy using my diary as a way to capture memories and moments. I often paint, doodle and put a lot of creative touches into my entries.
I know a lot of people whose “diaries” are really art journals. Ways to use notebooks here can include sketches, watercolor, or even collages to record what’s going on your life. No words but so very meaningful!
JOURNALS ARE MEANT TO BE USED!
As I said before, the ways that journals and notebooks can be used are almost as endless as the supply of actual journals! I hope this post gave you a few ideas on how you can use yours.
However you do it, just do it. An empty journal is a wasted opportunity. But a full journal is a fantastic way to help record, organize, and enhance an already full life. There are just so many ways to use notebooks.