How to fit different types of journaling into your life

Since I started journaling a couple of years ago I have really benefited from the different varieties of journals that are available, both to buy and to create.

There is something very freeing about the idea of keep a journal. You don’t have to keep it every day of the year making sure you don’t miss a day and thereby risking it becoming null and void.

Neither do you have to always journal in the same way. You can use whatever type of journaling suits you and whatever it is that you need to express or create at any given time.

This suits me greatly as I don’t always want to express myself in the same way, or following a strict routine each day.

People use journals in different ways and one of the great things about all these different types of journaling is that there is not wrong way or right way to journal. There is just journaling. The different types vary as to different styles, writing patterns, approaches, length or brevity. It is really up to you.

Different types of journaling

So, without further ado let’s dive in to the different types of journaling that you can do. And the great thing is there is no barrier to entry. You can just start whichever one you want today. Who knows where your journal might take you in the next weeks, months or years.

Table of Contents

Below is a list of types of journaling by journaling method ie different types of journals you can create. At the end of the post I have included a few techniques for journaling which can inspire you into action.

Types of journaling by journaling method

Bullet journaling

I have always been intrigued by the idea of bullet journaling but it seemed (from the outside) to be so complicated and I couldn’t understand how to keep track of my goals.

Also I like to track my goals by creating my own charts and writing out my thoughts in longhand. However, curiosity got the better of me so I searched up Ryder Carroll and found his website (which you might already be familiar with).

Unlike other forms of journaling, bullet journaling is a methodology rather than just a journaling type. Or, as the website puts it, “a mindfulness practice disguised as an productivity system”. If you have the time I recommend you looking at the website, it’s really beautifully presented and explained.

Tray on bed with mug of coffee, and two journals and a pen. There is a cream throw folded up, the colour scheme is neutrals. Accompanies blog post entitled How to fit different types of journaling into your life

Morning pages

Julia Cameron promotes Morning pages in her book, The Artist’s way. Morning pages is a process whereby each morning you write continuously, without pre-thought or anticipation, whatever comes to mind.

You write for 3 pages length and then you stop. You don’t reread the pages. The idea behind writing in this way is to clear your mind, process emotion, unleash your creativity and silence your inner critic.

There are some great tips here for getting into the routine of writing morning pages.

Prayer journal

I love the idea of a prayer journal. Not only are you creating prayers, but you are recording them so that you can go back and then use them when in need.

There are many different approaches for prayer journals. You can keep one by your bed or wherever you spend your morning quiet time. Each day you can write out a prayer so it becomes a daily practice. Or you could write a prayer after having read scripture, using the Bible verses to inspire you.

Don’t limit your prayer journal to just text, you can incorporate different styles by drawing illustrations, using different lettering, painting colour onto the pages or pasting in Bible momentos like bookmarks and random pieces of paper on which you have written thoughts.

Be creative with your prayer journal. And then you can use it afterwards as a source of comfort and reassurance: a place where you have met God.

Daily journal

A daily journal is probably the closest that journaling gets to keeping a diary. With a daily journal you don’t necessarily write on a specific topic, you write about your day and what is going on in that day.

A daily journal is the closest you will get to a rigid journaling routine. I like to think that journaling is much free-er than keeping a diary. So don’t limit yourself to just writing it, be creative in how you create your journal. You are starting with a blank notebook, just like each day you are creating your life with a new day ahead of you, so be intentional about how you create your journal too.

Gratitude journaling

Can you think of 3 things for which you are grateful each day? Or how about 12? Some forms of journaling require other action to occur in order to feel the full benefit of the journal.

For example a fitness journal requires you to take physical exercise, an art journal requires you to create art. With a gratitude journal the act of journaling is the transformative process. Studies show that gratitude increases positivity, improves self esteem, helps you sleep better, reduces stress and makes you happier.

See 5 scientific facts that prove that gratitude is good for you.

Blond haired woman writing in journal, view is over her shoulder. Accompanies blog post entitled How to fit different types of journaling into your life

Travel journaling

Covid put paid to our love of travel and adventure but gradually the world is opening up again and we are able to travel to different places and see the world and ourselves from different perspectives.

Travel journaling records our experiences of these new things, and is a wonderful way of keeping a record of our travels.

As well as recording our journeys, a travel journal can also act like a scrapbook, recording the physical accoutrements that you need for your travels: tickets, maps, timetables, small momentos.

Art journaling

This is a great way to use your artistic skills if you already have them. And it is also a great way to experiment or try out learning new art skills if you want to develop your artistic side but are nervous of the blank page and how to fill it.

Because each page is part of a journal and not a blank canvas sitting on an easel, the pressure is entirely taken away from you. Each day represents a new day to be creative. And if you don’t like what you have created today, it doesn’t matter, because tomorrow there will be a new page waiting for you.

And as I have said before, there is no wrong or right with journaling, it is simply an expression of you.

Bible journal

Creating a journal of what you are reading in the Bible and your reactions and thoughts to it is a journaling technique which tracks your Bible reading history.

I have found that I so easily forget quotes, passages and thoughts that, when I first experience them, seem so personal and relevant to my life. I think I’ll never forget them, and then by the next day they are gone, I never think of them again.

This happens to me in many different areas of my life. Keeping a journal can be a powerful tool for keeping track of what your experiences and thoughts are.

Creative journaling

Creative journaling is any form of creative self expression that you can put into journal form. You can keep a creative journal for creative writing, but it could also be an art journal, a collage journal, a sketch journal. Creative journaling can also be associated with themes. See my art prompts ideas post for more ideas on this.

Fitness journal

The upside of keeping a fitness journal is that you record your physical activity and, by recording it, be encourage to continue with your exercise. The downside of keeping a fitness journal is that you have to keep fit and keep at it continually!

Fitness journals can also be used to track your physical health by monitoring vitamin and nutrient intake as well as sleep patterns, weight loss and water intake. If you want to see what really keeps you fit and optimally healthy, then track it.

By keeping a journal over a period of weeks/months/years you can see what you need to do in order to remain at the weight and fitness levels that make you happy.

Abstract image in blue/red/orange with text. Accompanies blog post entitled How to fit different types of journaling into your life

Food journal

A food journal tracks your food intake for a variety of reasons: You might want to keep track of recipes that you make or monitor your food shopping by keeping track of your grocery lists.

You might also keep a food journal to monitor a weight loss regime, or another regime where you have to monitor your food intake, for example if you are on a medical protocol.

You could also incorporate a recipe index into your food journal, keeping recipes you want to cook or which you spot in magazines, for future use. Plus you can take pictures of meals you have made and keep a visual record of your meals. You can use a food journal in corporation with your fitness journal and you can also use it to help you run the family finances.

If you are inspired to keep a food journal, don’t just be limited to thinking of it as a diet journal, it can be so much more than that.

Reading journal

A reading journal is a record of what you have read and what you thought about what you read. It’s like a book club for one person, you! It can also be used to keep track of what you have read and what you want to read next. You can also buy specific reading journals which contain prompts and structures to help you record your thoughts.

Reflective journaling

A reflective journal is a place where you can bring your thoughts, feelings and experiences and, quite simply, reflect on them. It can help you better understand your lived experiences, untangle emotional knots and help heal wounds.

Donald Schon helpfully described two methods of reflective journaling, reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action. Reflection-in-action happens while an event is happening and you would ask yourself questions like: how shall I deal with this, what shall my response be, what are my feelings now.

Reflection-on-action happens after the event has happened and you would be asking yourself questions like: recalling the events, asking yourself how you feel about them, thinking about how that event has shaped other events in your life. The advantage of reflective journaling is the safe space you create to analyse your life.

The disadvantage of reflective journaling could be that you wallow a little in self pity and become rather self absorbed. Creating a structure of questions to ask yourself, like Donal Schon suggests, is one way in which reflective journaling can be productive exercise rather than one of self pity.

The 5 Minute journal

The 5 minute journal has a simple structured format that is designed to take just 5 minutes to complete. The 5 minute journal uses proven principles from positive psychology in a guided gratitude journaling format.

You can buy the journal with the ready made journal propts in them. The 5 prompts are: I am grateful for; What would make today great; Daily affirmations; Highlights of the day; What did I learn today.

Stream of consciousness journaling

This kind of journaling is similar to the daily pages which Julia Cameron writes about in the Artist’s Way and is a type of free writing. Use your journal each morning to sit and write out your thoughts.

Write them out without hesitation, without editing what you are writing. Just sit and spill those thoughts out onto paper. It’s very therapeutic and great for your mental health.

Julia Cameron recommends not reading what you have written. I have found it useful to read what I have written. It gives me a different perspective on what I am thinking, it shows me to myself in a different way and I have found this very useful.

Dream journaling

I don’t remember my dreams much but I have friends who do. If you are a vivid dreamer then a dream journal could be the perfect journal for you. You may want to keep this journal first thing in the morning, or at least jot down your thoughts and the narrative of the dream first thing, so you don’t forget it.

Then you can use the journal to write out your dream, or as a method of visual journaling, and create images that describe the dream. You can also use a dream journal to develop your creative side and narrate dreams you would like to have or create short stories of your dream world.

Nature journaling

I walk the dogs every day and love being out in nature. I find so many pieces of twig, leaves and berries that I want to capture in some way. I don’t necessarily want to paint everything, sometimes I want to draw or take a picture or write about how it made me feel.

We live near the river Thames and have the Runnymede Fields on our doorstep, plus woodland, plus Windsor Great Park. Being outside is great for my mental health but also I want to be able to capture how I feel when I’m outside. This is what my nature journaling is for.

I don’t keep it every day. It’s a specific journal for a specific time. And that’s totally ok, you can keep different types of journals for different life experiences in fact I would really encourage you to do so.

Manifesting journal

What do you want to see more of in your life? Why not keep a journal specifically concerned with those ideas and different types of manifestation prompts to help you achieve your ambitions? You don’t have to keep this kind of journal on a regular basis. You can create it and then use it like a book, reading and rereading it and occasionally updating it.

Blonde haired woman writing in her journal, the camera view is over her shoulder. The colour scheme is neutrals. Accompanies blog post entitled How to fit different types of journaling into your life

Techniques to help your journaling practice

Journal prompts

Prompts are a great way to speedily initiate engagement with your journal. We have plenty of prompt posts on the website including:
55 style journal prompts
144 thought provoking journal prompts
Mindfulness journal prompts to appreciate life better

Specific goal

Use one specific goal and keep a journal around that goal. It could be to get out of debt, start a new exercise plan or even to start a new hobby. You could also use a specific goal in the context of ‘baby’s first year’, or ‘the first year after I quit my job’.

Bullet journal method

The bullet journal method is really a whole world of mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity journal. If you are looking for a new way of approaching your life then this method might be for you.

Journaling in itself is transformative and by using a method like bullet journaling you are stacking one good practice on another which reinforces your ability to change. (go you!)

Daily routine

Use certain parts of your day to journal. Morning pages are traditional done in the morning. You could create your nature journal each day after a walk. You could use your reflective journal in the evening as the dust settles on the day.

Other similar posts you might like

Journaling ideas for self improvement
How to use journaling to track your self improvement goals
What is a growth mindset journal?

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