“All I need is a sheet of paper and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down,” said Friederich Nietzsche. From artists to world leaders, thinkers and the most influential people of this time and the past, people have kept journals and notebooks to give a detailed record of their everyday lives, ideas and of course, feelings.
Elements of a Good Notebook and Journal
Perhaps, history’s greatest thinkers have taught us that journals and writing itself is a great way to keep a record of posterity or simply tell a story for the sake of trying to make sense of how much we tend to lose ourselves inside our own thoughts. And while you might think your life isn’t as eventful as that of Sylvia Plath, John Lennon or Galileo Galilei, you might still want to keep a notebook or journal simply because of the many benefits it offers. If you have just started to decide to keep one as part of your new year’s resolution, here are the elements you should look for:
1. Cover Design: It’s been less than two weeks since the year started. When you go to a stationery store, you will see an abundance of yearly planners, notebooks and journals demanding to be bought so you can “start the year right.” From having illustrations of your favorite fictional characters to trendy fruit designs and quotes set in stylish fonts over brown cardboard paper, you’ll never run out of cover designs to choose from. Your journal is probably a very personal thing to you so it might as well look the part and mirror your personality so that you’ll always look forward opening it to write and read what you have written. You can check out notebook & journal templates in PSD.
2. Type of paper: No one wants to write on flimsy paper because it would turn an otherwise great writing experience into an ugly and tedious one. Moreover, a notebook made out of poor paper material can be really annoying. The advantage of taking the time to pick your notebook is that it gives you an opportunity to check its parts and then you get to evaluate and decide if it’s good enough for you. You would only want your writings to be stored in quality material especially if you want it to outlive you in the future.
3. Pages: We like to fill our paper with whatever comes to mind and even if it’s nonsense drivel, we just have to write it down, don’t we, so that we can keep track of what we did, where and how our day or experience went. This is why you need a journal with enough pages you can divide into lots of bucket lists, weekend plans, and a great many ideas waiting to take full shape. Choose a journal that gives the space and the freedom to write everything down, while still allowing you to be organized. You may also like notebook & journal templates in a word.
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Steps to Keep an Excellent Notebook and Journal
We’re drawn to making our mark, leaving a record to show we were here, and a journal is a great place to do it. Once you start writing, putting stuff that serves as some sort of recollection to the day that passed, even if it’s just one fallen leaf, can turn into a habit and not so much of a task for you. With the help of the following steps, it should be easy:
1. Dedicate a few minutes of your time daily: Write regularly and a good strategy to avoid becoming easily bored with your journal is to find 10-15 minutes every day to write. Ideally, you should be writing every day and this can feel like such a boring routine so timing yourself would be great to make it more doable.
2. Don’t pressure yourself: After the first step, this might seem a tad condescending, but you don’t really have to agonize on having a journal entry every single day. There are days that you simply aren’t in the mood to write, and this type of thing also happens even to the best and most motivated of writers. Missing a day or two in a week for journal writing isn’t a failure and it shouldn’t feel like one.
3. Keep a record: There are times that we really just have too much going on inside our heads that we can’t put into the right words just yet. However, most of what we’re thinking, whether they’re about what occurred during the day or something we’re confused about but refuse to let go of could be put to good use when we write them down. The most confusing thoughts can give rise to brilliant ideas sometimes, so use your journal to keep a record of your thoughts, from the most mundane to the most profound.
4. Create your lists: While you can personalize your notebook and journal according to what type of journal-writing fits you best, it wouldn’t hurt to dedicate pages or sections for lists. You can list down your aspirations, career goals, short and long-term goals and then track your progress later on for personal and business tasks you’ve set. If you want to do it one step at a time, then you can start by listing down just your goals for the day and check back to see what you have accomplished.
Types of Notebooks and Journals
You may choose to use the templates we have attached in this article and edit or personalize them, but here are the most common types of notebooks and journals you can use for writing:
- Spiral Notebook: Among the many notebooks and journals available at the stationery store and book shops, the spiral type is probably the most popular since students have to use it for school as a requirement. Spiral notebook covers can range from thin cardboard to flexible plastic and are usually more affordable.
- Bullet Journal: If you belong in the working class, you would prefer to organize your tasks and ideas, keep them in line with your work schedule but that can sometimes be really redundant. People have their own way of trying to stay organized and a bullet journal offers more flexibility as well as more options in improving your organizing strategies.
- Composition Notebook: Although they can come in various designs, composition notebooks are usually recognizable by their signature marbled front cover. The back cover would usually include a grid for filing out class or work schedule inside which is why like the spiral notebook, this is used by students. It can also include a conversion table or a whole page of grammar rules.
Notebook and Journal Sizes
The two most common standard paper sizes are the ones from the A series and B series. These sizes are under ISO print standards:
Notebook paper size measurements A series:
- A3: 297 x 420 mm (11.7 x 16.5 in)
- A4: 10 x 297 mm (8.3 x 11.7 in)
- A5: 148 x 210 mm (5.8 x 8.3 in)
- A6: 105 x 148 mm (4.1 x 5.8 in)
- A7: 74 x 105 mm (2.9 x 4.1 in)
Notebook paper size measurements B series:
- B5: 176 x 250mm (6.9 x 9.8 in)
- B6: 125 x 176mm (4.9 x 6.9 in)
- B7: 88 x 125mm (3.5 x 4.9 in)
Notebook and Journal FAQs
Is keeping a diary the same as keeping a journal?
A diary is a bit more personal and it is preferred by people who want to document a day or events in their lives as they happened. You’re free to treat your journal like a diary since it offers more flexibility but the journal is ideally meant for helping your creativity flow and your thoughts and ideas take shape. Also, the contents of your journal aren’t as dependent on a particular date as that of a diary.
How do I keep my journal more effective?
It’ okay to organize but try not to overdo it. Your journal isn’t a planner. You don’t have to keep to a strict format, or strictly write in sections but if you really want to, you can divide them into sections. Just make sure that you still have more than enough space for being destructive. You didn’t read that wrong. Being random, making mistakes, having no plan of what to write and not caring about the outcome is the point of having a journal.
The use of several pages of paper bonded together as a way to keep a record of our everyday lives seems out of date in an age where digital word processors and touchscreen keypads dominate how people communicate and document anything. However, you’ll find that there are many people, especially writers and artists who still prefer journals and write the old-school way.