Journals, Planners and Lists…Oh My!

As the year winds to a close, I find my life – as usual – in a state of flux.

Not only did my job take a drastic (but very positive) turn at the end of Q3, adding a lot more to my plate, but I’ve also started a 2nd part time job and am also making a go of breaking out with my writing.

All of this has made my planner rather a mess, and left me contemplating how I’m going to uncoil the serpent that is my life on paper, and lay it all out straight.

I’m a journaler. I have been keeping a personal journal since I was a child and my mother bought me my first Diary. It was a small, ridiculously girly hard bound book with a tiny gold key.

In it, I wrote about my horse, whatever crush I was in the midst of on any given day and how much I hated math.

Today I still write faithfully every day in my journal. I no longer have a horse, my affections stopped  swaying with the winds a long time ago…and I still hate math.

For several years, I have used a Moleskine Daily large hard cover book for my journal. The dated format harnessed the power of my OCD for good (for once) and drove me to write every day. They have good quality paper and are easily archived.


Here’s the thing though – I’m one of those people who also do a bit of journaling in my Day Planner. I track stuff in my Filofax (weather, mood, the BF’s schedule, whether or not I took my vitamin, flossed my teeth, stuff like that) and jot down notable events (moon phases, tarot stuff, etc).

Kind of a lame, journal “divide and conquer” strategy that ends up taking up more room that I want in my planner, yet not feeling worthy of the Moleskine.  I miss that feeling of opening up a fresh blank page and giving free rein to my pen. But, with only that one page to use, there isn’t much room to actually write. Muse. Ponder. That kind of thing. So I mostly just keep it to the facts ma’am. Work kicked my ass. Gave up and switched back to iPhone. The gecko ate 7 crickets. Stuff like that.


Before I discovered Moleskine, I just used a blank book for my journal and not to toot my own horn, but some pretty intense, amazing stuff got written down when I had as many pages as I wanted upon which to spill my stream of consciousness. I didn’t write every day, however, and as ‘life got tougher’ (as the old Excedrin commercial used to say) I wrote less and less. Actually, during the times I probably needed to the most, I hardly wrote at all.

So the blank book gave me the freedom that I needed, but I ended up abusing that freedom and stopped writing. Then the Mole gave my journaling back a sense of structure, but inadvertently sucked away its soul.

What, I ask you, is a girl to do?

For 2013 I’m going to have faith (in myself) that keeping to a daily schedule for the past few years has instilled in me the habit to write on a regular basis and I’m going to take the leap and go back to a blank book again. I may not write every day but which do I want more, a trivial accounting of mundane things kept every day for the sake of keeping it every day, or actual real quality writing that, while it may not come daily, has depth and genuine meaning behind it when it does come?

At first I thought this would be such an awesome idea that I would also keep my Gratitude List in there too. But that is something I want to continue to commit to every day, so perhaps it doesn’t belong in my journal.

What about in my planner?

Oy, don’t even get me started on what my planner situation is going to be next year! I’m still working on that one, and I’m hoping to go smaller rather than larger with it, so no room for the Gratitude List there.

So what I’m thinking is, pick up a pocket size daily Moleskine and use that for my Gratitude List. Only for that. There, structure will come in handy.  Heck, I could even toss it in my handbag for gratitude on the go.

Are three books too much? The journal would obviously stay at home. I actually kinda like the “Gratitude on the Go” idea. And if I kept journalesqe stuff actually in my journal and therefore out of my planner, I might even be able to go back to my beloved Compact next year.

What do you guys say? Am I over-thinking this (big surprise there, as I tend to over-think pretty much everything)? Or am I onto something here?

Do you keep a journal and/or a gratitude list? And if so, are they separate entities or one and the same?

Are any of you keeping all of this in one book? Journal, planner, whatever mindful practice floats your boat…the works? How the heck do you do it??!!

Chime in in the comments : )

9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. SNARLing
    Nov 14, 2012 @ 21:37:34

    HOLY SHIT! my state exactly. this past year i’ve been using a soft cover daily moleskine and although i’ve been afithfully writing (have an entry for) every day, i have to say it but i’m kinda over it. last year for the last 6 months i did journalling (including those random things – dinner, best, worst, mood sort of things) in graph paper in a section in my compact. sorta still have that – 2ppd where i do that sort of thing except “write stream of conscious shit”. oh and currently i’m in the pocket luxe 15mm of teeny tiny love (love that thing but thinking i’m gonna have to give it up for that ONE book. or maybe not. you know how it goes. one thing’s for sure is that i love rings to hold bits and pieces of things. a week of this a page of that. bound books make me carry around a ton of static but potential energy – which although nice, i don’t really need it. also thinking maybe i WANT to have more than a week’s worth, you know for reference,,, at any rate, ordered a regular black personal chameleon as it’ll be nice and streamlined, like that ribbed for her pleasure feeling and it’s a cheap and toss in my bag and at my teller station at work.
    ahhhhh but the luxe. so totally love it for some reason. so i just finished updating and have EVERYTHING in both perosnal and pocket size. also thinking about making generic non-dated 2ppd personal pages as i dig the pocket ones i made. oh and been lovong the feel of the ball point – uniball jetstream to be exact so actually sent the kura toga on vacay for a unistyle fit – the shiny metal s-holder for pencil, jetstream ballpoint and a .05 gel – currently balck but gonna switch to pink, i think. yeah. been busy tho. mum’s getting worse as is the morale in this household. the folofaxing keeps my enthusiasm (a little) but really haven’t found much delight in anything else – blogging, blogs and the like. miss you guys tho – oh and

    THANKS SO MUCH FOR THAT FAT PARCEL. nice that it’s xmas time so i can be on the lookout for super special shit for you. miss you hope you’re happy and well +++SNARLing

  2. SNARLing
    Nov 14, 2012 @ 21:40:16

    wow. where’s the edit button? sorry for any incoherence had to squeeze in a reply before i start my homework

  3. Laurie
    Nov 15, 2012 @ 12:12:52

    I started writing a comment here but it got ridiculously long so instead I wrote a post about it. Like to hear it? Here it go:

    About your gratitude list, I think that’s a great idea. A daily book would certainly guilt, I mean encourage, you to write something every day. But if you didn’t want that kind of pressure, you might think about a simple weekly planner such as the Moleskine large weekly. I’m partial to the new Magenta cover myself. This one here, and I am not in any way affiliated:

    The weekly book is slim, the day spaces are lined and big enough you could easily write each day’s gratitude list. But the page is open, much like a lined notebook, so if you didn’t get around to writing your list each day and wanted to do a gratitude list for the week instead you could do that too. Or you could use the day spaces to write themed gratitude for the week. For example what you are thankful for that week in work, home, personal/ relationships, etc. That would give you more flexibility than churning out a list every day. Anyway, just an idea.

    I hope you figure out your journaling situation, and if you do let me know so I can try it too!!!

  4. Marcia Straatmeyer
    Nov 15, 2012 @ 13:56:44

    Three books is too many for me. The daily Moleskine journal got me back to writing daily so next year I plan to go back to what used to work for me. I use a blank journal, writing journal stuff from front to back and gratitude list from back to front. When they meet in the middle I put start and finish dates inside the front cover and start a new one. Just planner stuff goes in my planner but if I write that day I mark that day in my planner with a symbol. I track other stuff this way also: a capital “C” for a Curves workout, a “Z” for Zumba, a check mark for walking the dog, a little lotus symbol I made up for meditation, and a curvy “W” if I write in the journal. You could use little stickers instead of marks if you wanted.

  5. kanalt17
    Nov 15, 2012 @ 18:58:04

    I, too, am a journal-er. I wish I had the time to do it everyday, but I don’t. I do keep a list of topics in my planner because by the time I get time to write I’ve forgotten what I wanted to write about. So the topics list helps me there. In addition, I do write down random notes in my planner on the day they happen. So for instance, on the day my husband lost his iPhone, I noted that down. It then went into the journal in more detail. Basically, almost anything (aside from the weather or how I felt on a particular day) that ends up as a note in my planner will also go into the journal with more detail. As for the gratitude list, it’s been a while since I’ve updated mine. But since I do have a happiness binder and a gratitude list in there, this is where all of those updates will go. I don’t necessarily need to write them down as they happen, but more like a reflection back on the day or the week or whenever it happens to get updated. However, if I were to keep a gratitude list with me, I’d be more apt to use a very small Moleskine or something similar, something that I could slip into the front pocket of my planner since my planner is my go-to book for everything, even if items end up elsewhere later on.

  6. homemakersdaily
    Nov 16, 2012 @ 02:35:11

    I have to have everything in one place or I won’t do it. I’ve tried writing in a separate journal but I can’t keep it up. I write very faithfully in my planner, though, but not always deep stuff – usually just highlights or interesting things about my day. Sometimes I do problem solving or make lists of frustrations or worries. But it all has to be in the planner.

    Actually, I have years of 8-1/2×11 spiral notebooks that I wrote in – my thoughts, feelings and frustrations. I HATE reading through them. They’re boring! I much prefer reading through my planners and reading the little snippets I wrote. They’re much more meaningful and pleasant to read.

    But that’s just me.

  7. Julie Goucher
    Nov 16, 2012 @ 07:23:53

    Like you, I have kept a journal every day since my teenage years – 31years of journals! I have always kept a page a day diary where I mixed work & domestic upon the page as a day to day planner then journal at night in a separate journal. I have recently returned to using Filofax & now keep my journal in a seperate Filofax using bank pages.

    I always have blank pages in my day planner Filofax & will often journal upon one of the blank pages, then when I get home transfer to journal Filofax then I don’t forget what I wanted to record later.

  8. Cassandra
    Nov 16, 2012 @ 11:55:03

    I have used a FC “classic” 2ppd planner for 18 years. The second page is for journaling everything from orders, telephone conversations, cute things kids said/did, gratitude journal, to pouring out the anger/depression/frustrations. You name its in there. If it takes more than a page to rant or record I just add paper, making sure the date is at the top and a page number. Since I use FC pages I keep everything in their storage binders. My kids have enjoyed stories of themselves from long ago, someday they will read my messed up life as well. As they are all 4 teenagers now, there is less and less in there, but my three boys are good about writing once a week in their journals. ( they use a wo2p and just write a sentence or two in the box or draw a picture) I also seen “homemaker’s daily” use the tracker box as her gratitude journal. I always wondered what to do with that box, but its perfect space.

  9. weirdrockstar
    Nov 17, 2012 @ 07:53:56

    We´re so samesies. I´ve been writing ( and here´s where we go onto semantics. I used to use the word ” gratitude ” but it always seemed to grate against I don´t even know what. So after realization that it evoked a feeling of ” needs to be grateful that I got something that I might not have been worthy of “, when the word ” appreciate ” sent a message ” I appreciate that these good stuffs landed upon me, just as I expected “. This is my case, but I use the word appreciate ) a journal of appreciation and every time I did ( been slacking ) I felt gooood about it. However, it´s a nice, hand bound book with hand made paper and whatnots but it´s fairly bulky! I already carry a ton with me so that is not necessary thing to come with me. Now that I´ve been in and out of surgeries, it´s clear to me that I need to carry less and need to now find lighter solutions. So what I really should hunt for is a thin notebook or even sheatlett that feels nice, is easy to open up and pen just glides over it. I could then shove it inside my planner and have it on the go. Some days I really need to dig that better feeling and then I just write a list of appreciation on the other side of my to do list/s. I can just toss them out as the todos go out simultaneously. Lately I´ve been pondering of planners too. I might have to retire the beloved A5 home. Love it, weighs a ton yet holds all of our lives. However I suppose we could come by by a smaller planner on the go. We´ll see. I could manage a small binder as a wallet& notebook&diary perhaps? I also found FAANTASTIC A5 size diary at a store ( much to my surprise I left it there for further pondering ) with just day / page sheets and it comes in red leather covers. I could either cut the sheets off or then use the darling as it. I might then gather everything on the A5FF and use it to hold the motherload when I stack everything up in the evening. I have no idea how plannerism will unfold 2013, it is clear that I need to unload some of the weight but downsizing does not come naturally to me. I´ll just go with the gutfeeling, as always.
    So these are my ponderations but to finally comment to YOUR post… I too am a journaler and I too once got prisioned by daily journaling sheet. Man, was I writing daily but man, was it ever so constricted! No mo´.

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