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Writing things down by hand helps you remember information, set goals, and connect with what you’re creating. Getting into journaling is a popular New Year’s resolution, but if you want to stick with it, finding the right journal for your needs is key. Here are some of my favorites for you to try in 2024, depending on the type of journaling you’d like to do.
The best regular journals
Table of Contents
As you’ll see, there are loads of options for niche journals, but sometimes, you just want Old Reliable. Try these:
A six-pack of small notebooks ($33.29) will give you the opportunity to keep your year organized. Designate one book for every two months, then stick to your plan of filling them up.
For journaling on the go (which is inevitable if you’re busy), try these three spiral notebooks from Zicoto ($17.99). The spiral prevents the book from getting beaten up in your bag while thick pages are easy to write on wherever you are—and there’s even a convenient pocket for money, receipts, or mementos.
The best bullet journals
There are a lot of use cases for journals. Maybe you want to write long, flowing passages about your thoughts and feelings, in which case one of the basic notebooks above are for you. If you want to be more succinct with to-do items, observations, lists, or goal-tracking, a bullet journal might be a better fit. These are just what they sound like: journals made for bulleted lists. Here are a couple to check out:
The original bullet journal ($29.99) comes with grids on the pages, a dot-grid design, spaces to add calendars and special lettering, and a date-related sticker sheet, making this a great intro for bullet journaling.
Try the Rettacy dotted bullet grid journal ($14.84 for two) for straightforward bulleting. Instead of lines, you get dot grids, and on those, you can structure your lists or quick notes. What’s nice about these is the index at the front, which functions like a table of contents you can fill in to keep the whole book more organized.
The best dream journals
Journaling about your dreams is a fun way to tap into your psyche or at least remember the bizarre things your brain came up with while you slept, so it’s good to keep a specific dream journal near your bed.
The Clever Fox dream journal ($19.99) makes dream journaling super easy by giving you prompts. You enter in the date of the dream, mark down if it was mundane, lucid, recurring, etc., and even account for your sleep quality and the emotions you felt on waking before jumping into the dream description. There are spaces to mark down key events, locations, the in-dream weather, and the overall mood, then finally, a spot to jot down your interpretation.
To keep it a little whimsical, try the What the Fuck Did I Dream Last Night journal ($10.99). It only includes a spot for a date and your description, which is less intimidating for newbie dream journalers.
The best financial journals
Maybe one of your New Year’s resolutions is to get on top of your finances, manage money better, budget, or just get more familiar with the way cash flows in and out of your life. Try a financial journal to start making those connections.
The Clever Fox Budget Planner Pro ($29.99) is full of features that can help you feel more in control. There’s space for goal-setting, journaling about your monthly expenses, marking a monthly calendar, and even budgeting around special events like vacations and holidays. It includes cash envelopes and stickers, too, so you can put your money where your mouth (or pen) is.
Try the Votorio budget planner ($9.95) if you can’t justify spending big money on something that’s supposed to save money. It’s easy to use and features savings worksheets, four quarterly goals, and periodic reflection pages. There’s space to log bills, credit card payments, investments, and income, and you can do it all weekly, biweekly, monthly, and/or yearly.
The best journals for tracking goals
If keeping track of your goals is your motivation for journaling, try a specific journal designed for this purpose. There are loads of these on the market, but here are some that have useful features:
The Brain/Shift Journal ($25.99) is a 13-week, undated planner and notebook that invites you to identify your “keystone goals,” then work through smaller phases to meet them. Every week, you’re given a behavioral insight. Each day, you’re asked to write down how you want the day to go. Each day features different prompts about what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown, which can help you reflect in ways you might not ordinarily do.
The Goal Crazy planner ($34.90) is also undated, which means you can start whenever you want—though the new year is as good a time as any. Each day is broken up into morning prep and evening review, featuring prompts about your goals, what you’re grateful for, and the affirmations you’d like to set, plus the things you accomplished and the most memorable moments.
The best gratitude/feel-good journals
Planning can be stressful and keep you goal-oriented, but you shouldn’t forget to reflect on the nice things in your life that all that hard work is bringing you. That’s where gratitude journals come in. They are structured to help you embrace the good parts of your day instead of just focusing on the future and what else needs to be done.
For a simple approach, try the Green Inspired Simply Grateful Journal ($12). Every day, it asks you to list what you’re grateful for, then gives you an inspirational quote. Pleasant! There are also prompts that encourage you to make lists of things like the people in your life you’re thankful for.
The Gratitude Journal Notebook ($4.99) is a cost-effective book that gives a bang for your buck. Prompts include listing what you’re grateful for on a given day, reflecting on your accomplishments, and setting self-care goals, which make it easy to stay on top of the tasks that are solely for you and your betterment.
The best grief journals
So many journals focus on looking ahead, planning, and reflecting on daily life, but it’s hard to do all that if you’re having a hard time processing a loss. These journals guide you through a difficult time.
The How to Heal journal ($18.40) is a 52-week reflection notebook that allows you to move steadily through your feelings, asking you to answer questions once per week for a year. You mark down what’s on your mind, what’s going well, and the challenges you’re facing. Each page also features a quote about loss and grief.
For something more in-depth, try the 52-Week Grief Journal ($14.99), written by a licensed marriage and family therapist. Each week, you explore a new topic, like honoring your regrets or thawing emotional numbness. The prompts are wordier and more thoughtful than other journals, coming straight from a therapist to give you real talk about grieving and then invite you to reflect on things like your survivor’s guilt or how you were taught to cope with loss in your youth.