A journal is a simple, but powerful tool with wide-ranging benefits, from inspiring creativity to relieving stress and anxiety.
But with so many different types of journals out there, how do you know which one is the best for you?
Some people like to use their journal to record their everyday observations and thoughts. From writing about what they had for breakfast to describing an interaction they had at work, this type of journaling serves as a daily log, a place to record your thoughts, observations, and slices of life—no detail is considered too insignificant or mundane.
Others like to use journals to keep track of their goals and habits. By recording their tasks and activities, they are able to measure their progress and stay on top of their goals.
And others use journals as a place for doodling and brainstorming, or as an outlet to express their emotions or any thoughts that are weighing on them.
As you can see, there is no wrong or right way to use a journal. In fact, a lot of people like to use their journal for all types of purposes. A journal can function as a travelogue, a habit tracker, and a brainstorming notebook all in one.
Below, we’ve rounded up our favorite types of journals along with ideas on how to use them. Whether you’re looking to cultivate mindfulness or spark your creativity or keep up with your exercise goals, you’ll be sure to find a journal that connects with your needs.
Types of journals for creativity
Everyone from Leonardo da Vinci to Elizabeth Gilbert to Spike Lee has kept a journal as part of their creative process. From brainstorming ideas to addressing concerns related to their projects to giving themselves pep talks, a journal is a key component of any creative person’s toolbox.
1. Morning Pages Journal
The Morning Pages is a popular type of journal writing developed by Julia Cameron in her seminal creativity self-help book The Artist’s Way.
The exercise consists of free-writing for three pages first thing in the morning. The purpose of the Morning Pages is to allow your subconscious thoughts to appear on the page. That means no self-censoring or editing.
Devotees of the Morning Pages love how it allows them to tap into their innermost thoughts and offers an opportunity for reflection and self discovery.
This hardcover notebook would be great for the Morning Pages—with its simple but well-crafted layout, you can focus on free-writing without any distractions.
2. Ideas Journal
Keep a journal and pull it out whenever you have the germ of an idea. Rarely do good ideas come from a one-time, Eureka moment. More often than not, good ideas come from the practice of generating lots of ideas, many of them bad, before you find the diamond in the rough. This Kunisawa Find Slim notebook is compact enough to carry with you on-the-go and allow you to jot down ideas when they arise.
3. Creative Writing Journal
This type of journal is good for writers who like to keep their creative work separate from their productivity/goal setting/ tasks. This way, you can focus on your creative writing exercises and prompts without being concerned about deadlines and tasks.
4. Doodle Journal
Another journal idea for creativity is to keep a notebook for your doodles, sketches, and drawings. And if you ever get caught doodling at a work meeting, don’t be ashamed. They say doodling is actually good for you and helps you retain information.
Types of journals for mindfulness and self care
Journaling can serve as an act of self-care. It’s a time that is just for you and allows you to reflect, examine, and better understand yourself and the world around you.
5. Heartsong Journal
We love writer Rachel Miller’s idea for a Heartsong Journal. Described as an “encyclopedia of you” a Heartsong Journal is a fun and comforting exercise and a catalog of all the things that make you feel like your best self.
You can include lists of your favorite movies, recipes, and books. Ideas for self-care days. Or favorite gifts to receive.
A pretty notebook would make for a lovely Heartsong Journal.
6. Journal for Inspirational Quotes
Words have power so why not use this type of journal to record your favorite inspiring quotes?
You can keep this quotes journal by your bedside and read your favorite quotes when you wake up in the morning to start your day off on a good note. Or you can read it during your evening wind-down routine and go to bed with comforting thoughts.
If you need ideas for inspiring quotes, you can check our post here.
7. Gratitude Journal
We know that expressing gratitude is good for us, but how often do we actually practice it? Keep a gratitude journal to take note of all the wonderful people, experiences, and things you have going on in your life and you’ll feel a positive shift in your mindset.
Types of journals for habit-tracking and productivity
From fitness goals to developing positive habits, these types of journals help you track your progress and achieve your personal best.
8. Fitness Journal
Need help achieving workout goals? Maintain a fitness journal to log your workouts, assess your areas of improvement, check your benchmarks, and see your goals come into fruition.
9. Bullet Journal
Bullet journaling is one of the most popular types of journaling for good reason. Die-hards love it for its multi-purposes: a reading log, a habit tracker, a place for doodles and sketches, and a way to measure the progress of their goal. A bullet journal is great for people who love to customize and get creative with their notebooks, and are looking to develop different areas of their life.
10. Meeting Notes Journal
If you find yourself jotting down meeting notes on pieces of scrap paper, you might want to consider keeping a dedicated journal for meeting notes. You’ll feel much more organized and on top of your work when you have all your meeting notes in one central location.
Types of journals for observations
Whether you want to record memorable experiences or keep a log of everyday moments, this kind of journal is all about the art of observing.
11. Travel Journal
A journal makes a great travel companion. You can use it to document memorable meals, sights, landmarks, and other travel observations. And when you’re back home, you'll love flipping through the pages and reliving those wonderful travel memories. A hard cover notebook with an elastic band is durable enough to travel with you wherever you go.
12. Daily Journal
This can be as succinct or as expansive as you’d like. You can write one line to summarize your day or let the pages flow as you chronicle the big moments of your life.
13. Field Journal
Keep track of birds, plants, flowers, and mammals that you see in your area or on your travels. Taking the time to record these field notes is a mindful activity in and of itself and will hone your connection to nature.
14. Recipe Journal
Recipes don’t always turn out the way you’d expect. Cooking times can vary, ingredients are swapped with things you have on hand, and disasters can occur. A recipe journal is a great resource for both the budding and expert cook. Make notes and little reminders so that you can feel more prepared and confident the next time you cook.
15. Culture Journal
We binge watch shows and tear through books and articles, but how often do we retain the salient details? You can maintain a journal that tracks the books, articles, movies, and tv shows you’re consuming. You can even add personal reviews. What did you like? What did you dislike? Not only will a culture journal help you feel like you’re not mindlessly consuming media, but it’s a fun way to start developing and curating your taste.