How to organize a journal for the life you want

Take one blank notebook, learn how to organize a journal and turn that simple notebook into a guide for your life.

Aside from this blog post I also recommend the following two posts for organizing your journal:

How to inspire your life: 18 Journal notebook ideas

18 goal journal ideas to create a life plan you love

Read on and learn how to do it for yourself.

Only you can answer the question as to what kind of life you want. It is your own unique path in life. Some of it may be structured and follow traditional paths but some of it may be wild and adventurous. Whatever it is, the decisions come from you and what makes you, you.

Firstly, clear visualisation is necessary to lead the life you want and you can create that life via your journal. Intentionality about your visualisation is the next step. What will really help you have the life you want is when you start to write down your visualisation and intentionality and create a system or method of your own to go after it.

For visualising your ideal life you could try manifesting techniques. If you want to learn more about manifesting and find practical steps to employ it in your life then try these blog posts:

How to create a printable manifestation journal

Manifestation prompts to create a better life

How to create your own Manifestation journal template

Background is a notebook with rose petals scattered on one page and an open fountain pen. Accompanies the blog post, "How to organize a journal for the life you want".

The first thing to do is decide what you want. What is the life you want? Being asked, ‘What do you want in life?’ can be overwhelming. Divide your ideas for the life you want into manageable thought silos. There are many different ways to do this. Listed below is a variety of each techniques that will help you create those silos before we move on to how to organize your journal.

To make navigating this post easier we’ve included a table of contents below:

How to use easy techniques to decide what you want in life

Brainstorm

Brainstorming can be an easy way to get all your thoughts out on paper. The disadvantage of brainstorming is that if you don’t know what you do want then how can you brainstorm it?

Triggers are a useful way of helping you brainstorm if this is the case. Triggers are one words or short phrases to which you can give an immediate response. Trigger examples are: family; work; home; favourite place; hobby; how I relax.

Mind map

Some people benefit from writing down and linking ideas. Using short words rather than sentences and making links between those words also helps to introduce an order to your thoughts. You can create a mind map in any way you want but there are some basic guidelines that are quite useful. Making connections can be inspiring for producing further ideas.

Vision board

I love vision boards. They are a great idea for when you need to find inspiration in your life. They are also great for pulling out the thoughts out of your brain that might be just out of reach of your conscious brain.

Vision boarding enables you to access those parts of your brain. and find them energising and revealing. Spend time finding images you find inspiring and use them to build a visual picture of the life you would like.

Brain dump

Sometimes we have ideas but they are just swirling round in your head. Get them out on paper. Sit down for 10 minutes and get everything out of your brain that relates to what you want in life. Use another sheet of paper for everything else that comes up. Then keep that first piece of paper with you during the rest of the day, or the next day and add to it as other ideas come up in your mind. You might find that once you have initiated the first list your brain will continue to trigger ideas you forgot you have had.

Mosaic tray with white mug of coffee and two notebooks and a pen. Cream coloured throw in the background. Accompanies the blog post, "How to organize a journal for the life you want".

How to organize a journal: Create a list.

Step two is to create order from your initial ideas list. And that is to create a list of life areas that you would like to include in your perfect life plan.

The techniques you used above should have given you a good list of areas that you want to include.

If you are unsure, include everything. You can always discard subject areas later if you feel they are not important to you.

Here is a short list of areas to include. If you think of other areas include them, this list is not exhaustive but meant as a trigger. Use it to compare with the list you have created above and check you haven’t left anything out.

home

work

marriage

family children

hobbies

passions

pets

physical fitness

big things you’d like to do but keep putting off

things you don’t want to do any more

areas where you would like to be more organised

everything you do in a week that is routine

Creating a structure for your journal

The list you have created now becomes your index page. Use page numbers and tabs to be able to access each section easily. Have the title of each section at the top of the page. The more methodical you are, the easier it will be to return to your life organisation journal and interact with it.

Woman in a dark blue jumper and jeans sitting on a bed writing in her journal. Accompanies the blog post, "How to organize a journal for the life you want".

How to organize a journal: Create vision boards for each major area.

You may have already used a vision board earlier in this exercise. Now that you have your big subject areas, spend some time creating a vision board for each area. The vision boards don’t have to be big. An A4 or A3 sized piece of paper is perfect. Don’t force the process. The images you use have to be relevant to you and have to mean something to you.

How to organize your journal: Choose your journal.

I recommend around an A4 size, you don’t want it to be too small because you are going to end up with charts, images and trackers. You can use a lined journal for this exercise. Journals with no lines, only a blank page could potentially encourage you to be more creative in presenting information, although harder to write lines of text.

You will maybe have different notebooks for other types of journaling so treat yourself to a wonderful new journal. The more you make it your own and identify with it, the better it will be to continue using it once the initial euphoria of organising your life has passed.

I have two journals, both in pink that I absolutely love. They mean so much to me, even when I spot them on my bookshelf it gives me a huge amount of pleasure. They both represented new starts in my life.

One was a financial journal and the other is a journal that I write in occasionally when major life changes happen. So, don’t underestimate the value of buying your journal in different colors or different covers, it’s a wonderful way to practice a little bit of self expression and self determination.

Keeping your journal

This journal, which may end up being one of your most prized possessions this year, is your own personal manifesto for how you want to live your life and is a great way to keep everything together.

Don’t be afraid to make it your own: use sticky notes, different pens, washi tape, pictures torn out of magazines, memorabilia that represents your ideal life. Whatever is relevant to how you want to live your life has a place in that journal.

Writing implements

I like to use similar pens for writing. You could make your journal even more personal by using a specific pen, such as a fountain pen. I love ballpoint pens and nearly always write in blue. I find reading blue text much easier than reading black text. You don’t have to limit yourself to black or blue though. Colour coding your journal charts on the various notebook pages is a great way to keep track of your goals.

Bullet journaling and organizing your journal for the year ahead

So much has been written about the bullet journaling system created by Ryder Carroll. The daily logs, monthly log and future log techniques could be really useful for you to live out your life intentionally. For the purposes of this post I want to say that you can use any journaling technique that suits you.

The more personally attached you feel to your journal, the higher your chances of living the life that you want. The best way to journal is the way that suits you. So if bullet journaling suits you then by all means do that.

This post, however is more about how to create your own journaling method to support the life that you want to create.

Woman sitting on a window ledge with a cup of coffee writing in her journal. Accompanies the blog post, "How to organize a journal for the life you want".

Create a framework for your journal

You will probably have a whole collection of different ideas as to how you want to live your life. Now you need to set it out in your journal in the most easily readable way to engage with your plans. For that I recommend that you create a framework that acts as a template for your blank journal.

The best thing about a template is that it gets you over the hurdle of that empty page. Plus a framework gives you repeated simple steps that you can take on a daily, weekly and monthly basis that will get you to the life you want.

How to create your journal framework.

If you are using the bullet journal system you can use monthly spreads or a weekly spread, to create your framework, but I would like to propose something different.

Your framework is that way that you are going to firstly set out how you want to live your entire life (so no pressure there!) and then also keep track of important tasks or events or even daily tasks that make up your future plan. This kind of future planning is one of my favorite things to do.

So your framework is going to include both your big goals for the year as well as the smaller goals. And then it is also going to include the method by which these goals are achieved.

Before continuing I would recommend that you use the first two pages to write down all the important things for the year ahead. This is your own personal overview of the year and how you would like to live it.

Yearly, monthly, weekly, daily

Divide your journal out into time sections. Make sure that the time sections suit you and that they will help you achieve your goals and not delay them in any way. I read and recently studied The Twelve Week Year by Brian Moran.

The premise of the book is to restrict your year to just 12 weeks. Reading the book made me realise the importance of focusing on what needs to be done now in order to actually get things done and see results.

So, when you are setting your year out, make sure that you are going to use that time not to delay, but to act decisively.

Also, remember that your journal is entirely yours. You can set your life out in any way that you want. If you have used one of the techniques above you will have worked out what is important to you. The type of journal you create should exactly match how you want to live your life.

Don’t include things you really don’t want to do. Completing a mind map or doing a brain dump will hopefully have avoided those. However when you get to planning out your time don’t let them creep back in just because you are feeling efficient.

However, having said that, all of us have to do some humdrum, boring, repeated tasks in our lives. Until, that is, we realise that we can outsource them! So, in your journal you may want to have a section for those dull tasks which actually make your life work and which, if performed efficiently, can free up time for you to do the things you really want to do.

Which brings me to the next section

Dull, but necessary items which make your world work better

There are some tasks that you don’t necessarily want to do but which need you to do them either until someone else can do them for you or because that’s just life baby! The items that go on here are things like:

You daily to-do list of repeatable actions

Do you want to keep track of things you do repeatedly? Clean the house, change beds? Do you want to keep shopping lists – say a weekly one for the next time you shop.

Habit tracker – Do you want to monitor your exercise routine, dog walking routine or any other habit performed routinely?

While you are doing this for daily items, you might also have monthly items that are routine so you could keep a monthly calendar, say of important dates coming up or dates that you don’t want to forget, or deadlines such as end of contract deadlines, renewal deadlines.

This section might take a bit of figuring out and planning. An easy way to do this is to use templates which have been previously created. So, the bullet journal method could be really useful for you here. You can easily find a step-by-step guide online that will help you in this area and also give you some inspiration or guidance to learn how to be organised.

In summary

So, in summary, this blog post has taken you on a journey from thinking about the big picture and being able to visualise the life you want. We looked at specific techniques you can use to help you visualise that life. From there we created a list of all the items.

Then we created a structure for the journal by taking all those items and using them to produce an index for your journal. Then we chose a journal and talked about how important it is to find a journal and writing implements that you are going to love using.

And then finally we addressed how to put the information into the journal. We did this by firstly writing out your goals into the first two pages of the journal. Then we divided up your items into time-bound areas and subject bound areas.

Finally we addressed the dull but important areas of your life, the routine-driven elements, which is organised well, will free up your time to spend more time on the areas where you are passionate.

If you liked this post you may also like:

New year journal prompts: Make this your best year ever
How to create health journal ideas to inspire your life
The six steps to wardrobe journaling: How to create empowering self beliefs

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