The Benefits & Thoughts of Keeping a Journal

Last week I wrote about Notebooks, Inbox & Workflow and I planned that the next post I would write about keeping a notebook etc would be the Travellers Notebooks system that I use for my brain-dump and inbox. I wrote about my notebook journey HERE.

However, two people wrote to me early this week and asked if I could share in a bit more detail about my journal habits and practices. I also had an email several weeks ago asking if I would be running an “Morning Pages” groups – At this point it is very much depending on the interest of others, so if you are interested let me know. I see no harm in answering those questions by a blog post, as it might interest others.

The benefits of keeping a journal will depend on how you decide to use it and if you manage to persevere. I think of it as a discipline, just like taking my morning tablets whilst I boil the kettle or brushing my teeth, then again I have done this for so long it’s an automatic process for me.

The key questions are:

  • What does a journal mean to you?
  • Do you want to have journals for specific things?

I can share what I do, but that does necessarily mean that will be right for you, so I would say that you should work on finding a method and system that works for you and tweak it over time – there is no right or wrong way.

I keep the following:

  • A day to a page planner where I record appointments, meetings, speaking and teaching engagements and my to do list. Sometimes I have a lot of things and I need extra space, in which case I use some large post it notes and stick them in. I then tick as items are complete and use the arrow to show that an item has moved to another day. I also list what dose of a medication that I take, because it alternates and otherwise I would never remember! I also record any health symptoms etc.
  • Leuchtturm1917 Journal where I keep notes and research items. I scope out presentations, blog posts/series and articles. I also keep my professional development (CPD) in this notebook and create genealogical timelines
  • Travellers Notebook system where I keep a notebook which I can record random thoughts or things that I see online or in emails (or anywhere here for that matter).IMG_1284 I go through the notebook every day or so and either review the contents creating an action – it might be a website that I want to include in a handout or lecture syllabus or a recipe! This is the process I have shown here (see the first link above) in an attempt to stop the use of so many post it notes, but I will record random stuff on pretty much anything and keep those bits in the box shown here and go through the box at least every couple of weeks. (I will still write about the Travelers Notebook system in the weeks ahead).
  • Leuchtturm1917 Journal that I keep for my Morning Pages, where I write 4 pages of material every morning, totally without conscious thinking. I wrote about this HERE and HERE I have done this practice pretty much every morning for 11 years.
  • #50Before50 Notebook – this is a special notebook. My husband bought it for me for Christmas in 2017. I knew I wanted to use it for something special, so as my 50th birthday approaches I want to achieve 50 things. The notebook, is lined and has my name on the front and the word Journal. I wrote about #50Before50 HERE. As I achieve one of my 50 I make an entry on the page, add a photo of two using my HP Sprocket and add the date. It is quite fun and I enjoy it. We also celebrate a special wedding anniversary this year, so I dare say I will add to the back of this book a few photos and text about that. I am truly very lucky to have such a special hubby!

As you can see I use different systems for different things and that is OK with me. I do review all the notebooks above, with the exception of Morning Pages. Reviewing the notebooks and planner is useful, it helps me keep on track and not miss things (hopefully). Also with reviewing, that sometimes yields me to think of something else which in turn is added to one of the notebooks.

I like to hand write my journals. As much as I love technology, the right pen and the right notebook is bliss! and a girl can never have too many of either! That said, I am very much a creature of habit and only recently made the change from the lined Leuchtturm1917 Journal that I use for research notes and scoping out articles to either dot grid or plain paper. If I want to record something special or specific I either write it in my planner or in my research notebook. The reasoning behind writing notes using a pen is it does help you retain the information. Furthermore, what a legacy for future generations?

The benefits of keeping journals and notebooks is actually a great contribution to Wellness & well being. The Morning Pages in particular help here. My view is that if you purchase a notebook that you really love and find a pen that feels right in your hand then you are more likely to write in it and perhaps add bit of ephemera, either with a HP Sprocket or similar of by using washi tape.

Leuchtturm1917 Journal have page numbers and pages at the front for an index. If I use a different book, such as a Moleskine, then I create an index by leaving the first four pages blank and adding page numbers as I write. I also date each page, every day that I use it.

There is one notebook that I have not mentioned and that is my Grief Journal/Memorial Log which I wrote about in 2011. There was a two year gap in the memorial log, that was until my Mum died in 2014. At that point I wrote and wrote and wrote. I captured as much as I could and when I felt calmer I devised a plan for a project in One-Note and I hope that will be published this year. This lives in the filing cabinet, along with all my completed journals, notebooks and planners, right the way back to that first homework log, many years ago.

In short, a journal, notebook and planner can be devised however you wish and they can contain whatever works for you. I would recommend that you make a decision on what you want to happen to your notebooks, planners and journals in the future. Do you want them destroyed or kept?

I hope that has answered the questions, but if not, please leave a comment or drop me an email.

About Julie Goucher

Genealogist, Author, Presenter, native Guildfordian, avid note taker and journal writer. Lover of Books, Stationery & History; Surnames, Butcher & Orlando One-Name Studies. Pharos Tutor for all One-Name Studies/surname courses as well as Researching Ancestors from Continental Europe.
This entry was posted in Organisation & Structure, Stationery, Filofax, Journals & Notebooks. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Benefits & Thoughts of Keeping a Journal

  1. With CTS, I can’t do Morning Pages…have tried several times, and it hurts too much and my hand goes numb. I do keep trying with my regular notebook to keep up, but the days just fly by and I do forget *sigh*… Your discipline is amazing!!


  2. BookerTalk says:

    You are so organised! Though I have notebooks until now they have been the cheap and cheerful kind because I scribble and doodle a lot. But I’m now thinking it’s time to invest in something more appealing to the eye. I want it to be practical – ie easy o carry around. The notebooks you use seem quite bulky?


    • I think it depends on the bag you use! My bag is always big enough to carry at least an A5 notebook which I do for research. My planner is also A5 though that I do not carry outside the house, unless I need to. The Travelers notebooks are slim – 21 x 11 cms and you can add or not notebooks to the system – which I will write about during this coming week. What I do carry for very random things in the bottom of my bag is an A6 notebook. It has shopping lists, book titles, post codes of places I need to get to etc. If I make a mess in it then so be it. I typically don’t like small books, which is why I go with the A5.
      Does that help?


      • BookerTalk says:

        yep it does, thanks for that. `i try not to carry large bags because they end up getting full and then a) I can’t find anything and am forever rummaging b)it gets so heavy on the shoulder. But then if the bag is too small everything just overflows….


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