Regardless of whether you’re setting up your very first journal or your hundredth, the start of a new journal is a great time to evaluate your journaling why, what, when, where, and hows!
In my opinion, the biggest benefit of journaling over a pre-printed planner is the ability for it to evolve and adapt to your needs and circumstances. So, if you are still journaling exactly how you did when you first started, it’s a good idea to take the time to answer all of these questions before you begin your next setup!
1. WHY do you want to journal?
The biggest question of all, and definitely an important one to think about before you begin!
Some potential answers could be:
- Planning and organisation
- Mindfulness and mental health
- Memory keeping
- Creative outlet
- You have seen it on Pinterest/Instagram/YouTube and have FOMO
- You just love stationery!
It is likely that your answer will be a combination of several of the above, and this answer may change over time.
Jo’s perspective: Previously I have kept a journal mostly for productivity and organisation . The creativity and mindfulness aspect of journaling being a bonus benefit that I hugely enjoy. Over time I have found that I am enjoying memory keeping in my journal and this is something I would like to do more of. As Oops a Daisy has grown (initially just me in my spare room, it is now a team of 4), I am finding myself using digital planning tools for day-to-day organisation, so that has become less of a priority in my journal this year.
2. WHAT will the focus of your journal be?
Once you have an idea of WHY you want to journal, you then need to think about WHAT the focus of your journal will be.
Would you like your journal to be a representation of your entire life (home, work, school, hobbies, thoughts, feelings, memories), or will your journal be primarily used for just one of these areas?
Jo’s perspective: I have been journaling for over 8 years and, as I mentioned above, my initial focus was always very much productivity. Because of this, my journal spreads were often goal oriented/to-do lists. I am finding more and more that the journaling I enjoy now is more creative and mindful rather than for productivity. My monthly calendars and holiday “memory keeping” spreads are my most recent favourites. I would like the focus of my next journal to be more for self-care than adding another thing to my to-do list. However, I will still need a way to capture day to day thoughts/tasks/ideas and plans!
3. WHEN will you Journal?
It’s a good idea to think about when you plan on journaling and how much time you have to spare before you begin the process of setting up a new journal.
Will you mostly journal in working hours, or maybe as a way to relax at the weekend? Perhaps you plan on journaling before bed each evening, or maybe only after special occasions as a way to record memories?
Jo’s perspective: I currently aim to set up my weekly spreads on a Sunday to get organised for the week ahead. I have very little time for creative journaling throughout the week, but always have a to-do list or a notes page open on my desk at work. Journaling under time pressure makes me stressed – feeling like I “should” be setting up a weekly spread zaps my enjoyment and creativity. I enjoy sitting down when I have time available and being creative with my journal, creating memory pages, and collections based around my hobbies and interests.
4. WHERE will you use your journal?
Will you be taking your journal with you to use at work/school or will it only be used at home?
What supplies will you need with you on the go?
This may have a bearing on the type of journal you choose (size, cover design) but also what you include in your journal.
Jo’s perspective: My current journal is B5 in size. It comes to work with me every day, but is a bit too chonky to take it out with me otherwise. Day-to-day I carry minimal stationery with me, but have a tonne of supplies on my desk at home when I want to be more creative.
5. HOW will you future plan?
It is important to consider how important your journal will be to future planning. Will all your plans go in your journal or will you use another tool alongside it – perhaps a diary or digital calendar?
Knowing how this will work for you will be important in how you set-up your journal. If all future plans will go in your journal then it will be very important to make sure that the future log you create will work for you (more on that later!)
Perhaps you like the idea of capturing repeating events (such as birthdays and anniversaries) in your journal, while daily appointments and events are recording in your phone or computer calendar.
Don’t be put off by the journaling purists… It’s ok to use different tools for different things!
Jo’s perspective: I have created a future log in almost every journal I have created for the last 8 years and have almost never kept it up to date! I rely heavily on my phone calendar and use this to populate my monthly calendar at each set-up.
What I have learned…
Throughout the process of writing this blog post I have clarified how I would like my next journal to work for me. I would like to make this year’s journal more of a creative outlet and a place to plan long term projects. I enjoy having a monthly overview to capture events/birthdays etc but find time pressures make setting up weekly spreads stressful.
I will remove the pressure of creating weekly spreads by running a pre-printed planner alongside for day to day tasks, scribbles and notes.
What I would like from my next journal:
- Future Log – Recurring events such as birthdays and long term planning for Oops a Daisy
- Monthly Spreads – for an overview of the month
- Memory Keeping – record of travel and days out
- Hobbies and Collections – Pets, projects, self-care
- Project planning – personal and work focused
All of my perspective comes as someone who has been journaling for a long time, if you are brand new to the process of journaling then I would advise starting simple, experiment with different ways of journaling and see what works!
Remember there are NO RULES… So if your journal is making you stressed then it isn’t working for you.
Join us to set up your next journal!
Check out “Journal With Oops a Daisy” – A four week programme to support you through journal set-up and beyond!
The programme is totally free to join with a small donation* to our chosen charity, St Clare Hospice, Hastingwood, via our Just Giving page.
*No minimum, give what you can afford. Access to the resources is granted for 3 months after sign up.