10 Best Journaling Ideas For Women In Their Twenties

Want to start journaling? Here are the 10 best journaling ideas you have to try if you're a woman in your twenties!

When I was creating my series on A Beginner’s Guide To Personal Development, I found myself mentioning journaling more than a couple of times. Since I’ve always been a journaling nerd (pretty stationery? yes please!) I thought it would be fun to do a roundup of 10 journaling ideas for women in their twenties!

Journaling is an incredible way to document your life and it’s not just for 12 year old girls. There are SO many different ways you can journal when you’re in your twenties and in this blog post I’m going through what I believe to be the top 10.

If you’re interested in seeing my journals and exactly how I fill them or want to hear how I maintain a consistent daily journaling habit, make sure you watch the video and listen to Episode 23 of The Smart Twenties Podcast – they both go along with this blog post. Ok, let’s get straight into it (there’s A LOT to cover in this post).

But first – I also want to let you know that I’ve created a cute downloadable workbook to help you kickstart your journaling habit, if you’re a little overwhelmed or unsure where to start. It has 5 steps that’ll help you choose the right journaling method for you and get yourself organised and into a routine. You can click here to download it now.

1. STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS JOURNALING

One of my favourite and most used methods of journaling is what many people call ‘stream of consciousness’ journaling. Some also call it a braindump, thought download or ‘morning pages’ (as this is what Julia Camera calls it in her book The Artist’s Way) and it’s an amazing way to get all of those pesky thoughts out of your head and onto paper. Stream of consciousness journaling is best when:

  • You’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed or anxious
  • You’re stuck on a problem
  • You want to gain new insights into your thoughts and behaviour
  • You want to increase your self-awareness
  • You use it as a daily tool to empty your thoughts (this is what I personally do!

Here are some guidelines if you want to start stream of consciousness journaling:

  • Use pen and paper
  • Create a daily target for each journaling session – you can either use a timer or choose to write a certain number of pages.
  • When you’re first getting started, make sure your daily target is easy to reach (5 minutes or 1 page is a great place to start) – once daily journaling is a habit, you can increase your daily target if you wish
  • Let your thoughts flow freely – do not censor yourself or make your thoughts more positive or more grammatically correct than they actually are
  • Write down your thoughts the way you hear them in your mind, without analysing or judging them or improving them (you’re trying to transcribe exactly what’s going on in your brain)
  • If you find it hard to listen into thoughts, turn your mind to something that’s been bothering you or a problem you’ve been trying to solve in the last 24 hours

Some things that might be helpful:

To find out more about how I personally use stream of consciousness journaling, make sure you watch my YouTube video on how I fill out my journals and notebooks

2. BULLET JOURNAL

Bullet journaling is a method of journaling and note-taking that uses bullet points as the main structure. Bullet journals are notoriously beautiful and honestly, that’s the reason I don’t personally have one. Even though the idea is SO appealing to me, I find that I struggle to stick to journals when they need to look perfect all the time. But that’s just me!

Bullet journaling is best when:

  • You need a system to stay organised with your to-do lists, goals, habits and tasks
  • You want everything in one place
  • You want to be creative with your journaling
  • You love lists, bullet points, stationery and pretty pens (but who doesn’t?!)
  • You haven’t been able to find a planner or journal that has the layout you want

Here are some guidelines if you want to start bullet journal:

  • Any journal will do but generally a high quality blank dotted or grid notebook is best – here are some recommendations.
  • Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to make it too perfect or elaborate as it will be hard to maintain it – especially when you go through those busier times in life
  • Less is more, especially when you’re first getting started – check out others are doing (the #bujo community is HUGE) but don’t be scared to start simple

Some things that might be helpful:

Want to start journaling? Here are the 10 best journaling ideas you have to try if you're a woman in your twenties!

3. GRATITUDE JOURNAL

Something that’s become very popular lately is keeping a gratitude journal. And it’s exactly what it sounds like – a gratitude journal helps you to focus your mind on all of the things you have to be grateful for (since these can be surprisingly easy to lose sight of). I don’t personally keep a gratitude journal as my boyfriend and I have established a solid habit of sharing the things we’re grateful for before we go to sleep each night (at this point we’ve been doing this for over 4 years, you can hear more about our habit in this video). But if I wasn’t doing that with him, I would definitely be keep my own gratitude journal and have done in the past!

Gratitude journaling is best when:

  • You find you tend to focus on the negative aspects of each day and lose sights of all the things that are going well
  • You feel apathetic, stressed or anxious about life
  • You want to train your brain to focus on (and look for) good things each day
  • You want a daily habit that will put you in a positive and productive frame of mind

Here are some guidelines if you want to start a gratitude journal:

  • Keep it simple – find a notebook that will be your gratitude journal and write 3-5 things you’re grateful for each day
  • Consider your health, your relationships, your family, your resources, your education, your possessions, your job, your money, your surroundings, your culture, your life lessons, your misfortunes, your experiences… the list goes on
  • Briefly elaborate on why you’re grateful for each item on your list as this will increase the gratitude you feel
  • If you’re struggling to find things you’re grateful for, bring it back to the very basics or think of what life would be like without certain things
  • The days this is the hardest are the days that it’s the most powerful – don’t reserve your gratitude list for ‘good’ days, aim to do it everyday no matter what happens

Some things that might be helpful:

4. THE 5 MINUTE JOURNAL

For a couple of years The 5 Minute Journal was a mainstay in my morning routine (this blog post is proof). Actually, I should say that I never had the proper journal. Instead, I just used wrote out all the prompts each day in a notebook. But hey, it worked! The 5 Minute Journal is a journal that has a simple layout and a few simple journaling prompts to help you set a positive and productive tone for each day and powerfully reflect on your life. And as you can probably guess from the name, it only takes a few minutes each morning and a few minutes each night (perfect if you want journaling to be a mini-habit)!

The 5 Minute Journal is best when:

  • You want prompts and routine when it comes to journaling
  • You love reading an inspiring quote each morning
  • You want to set a positive tone for the day
  • You want a gratitude journal, daily reflection and a to-do list all in one
  • You only have a few minutes a day to spend journaling but can do it both morning and night

Here are some guidelines if you want to use The 5 Minute Journal:

  • Decide whether you want to buy the official journal (it’s so pretty) or do what I did and write out the prompts each morning in a notebook
  • Keep your journal next to your bed so that you remember to do it every morning and every night
  • If you skip a few days, it’s ok – just pick it back up and keep going
  • Find different things to be grateful for each day so that you can really experience that surge of gratitude in the morning – see the section of this post on gratitude journals for more ideas with the gratitude section
  • There’s also an official 5 Minute Journal app if you prefer doing this digitally or think this would be something positive to add to your daily commute to and from work

Some things that might be helpful:

5. HEALTH & FITNESS JOURNAL

If you’re currently on a health and fitness journey, you might find that tracking your progress is not only a huge motivator (because you’ll be able to see your progress much more clearly!) but will also save you heaps of stress and time since you won’t have to rely on your memory. I don’t currently keep any kind of health and fitness journal but have in the past and found it to be so helpful – especially when I’m trying to remember what weights I use in the gym!

A health and fitness journal is best when:

  • You’re working to improve your health and fitness (obviously…)
  • You tend to focus on the progress you haven’t made, rather than the progress you have
  • You want to create clear goals and track your progress towards them
  • You want a place to store your meals, gym workouts, mood, healthy habits and progress photos
  • You’d be more likely to stay consistent with your healthy habits if you didn’t have to rely on your memory so much (or you had a pretty journal to write in)

Here are some guidelines if you want to start a health and fitness journal:

  • Make sure you get yourself a lightweight but high quality notebook that can be thrown into a gym bag and withstand a few food stains
  • Creating a bullet journal would be a fun and creative way to keep track of your health and fitness journey – see the resources I included in that section of this post
  • Don’t make your health and fitness journal too elaborate – it’s already challenging enough without adding something complicated on top so keep it simple

Some things that might be helpful:

6. DREAM JOURNAL

I haven’t personally kept a dream journal before but if you’re fascinated by dreams and want to uncover some insights  – a dream journal could be the way to go!

Dream journaling is best when:

  • You want to remember more of your dreams
  • You’re interested in learning more about dreaming
  • You like deciphering the meaning of your dreams and looking for themes and patterns in your dreams
  • You want to try lucid dreaming (think Inception)

Here are some guidelines if you want to start a dream journal:

  • Keep your journal next to your bed so you can write your dreams down as soon as you wake up
  • Write down your dream in as much detail as you can remember
  • Keep track of your sleep patterns alongside your dreams – such as where you’re sleeping, what time you went to sleep, woke up and the quality of sleep you had
  • Bonus points if you give each dream a title!

Some things that might be helpful:

Want to start journaling? Here are the 10 best journaling ideas you have to try if you're a woman in your twenties!

7. READING JOURNAL

If you’re a book-lover then creating a reading journal is a habit that you might want to adopt! To keep a reading journal, simply keep a list of all the books you’ve read (I haven’t done this in a few years but I did it way back in 2014 and 2015 on the blog and I’d definitely recommend it).

A reading journal is best when:

  • You want to read more books
  • You want to remember all of the amazing (and crappy) books you’ve read
  • Your friends ask for book recommendations
  • You need a place to store the titles of the books you want to read
  • You can never remember which books you’re reading (since you like to have 7 on the go at once – like me!)

Here are some guidelines if you want to start a reading journal:

  • Make sure you use a high quality and durable notebook for your reading journal, as it’s likely you’ll be using it for years to come
  • Since you won’t be updating your reading journal every day, don’t be afraid to make this journal a little prettier than the others – if you want to try bullet journaling then using one to keep track of your reading list and habits would be a great way to start
  • A reading journal doesn’t just have to be for books you’ve finished – you can use it to keep track of your reading habit, your reading wishlist, your reactions to books and the books you’d recommend to others
  • If you read a lot of books, you might even like to write out a little summary of each book once you’ve finished it – this way you’ll be able to remember what each book was about for years to come
  • You don’t have to read a lot of books to have a reading journal and you can start today by writing out a list of the books you’ve already read!

Some things that might be helpful:

8. TRAVEL JOURNAL

If you’re a traveller, then keeping a travel journal is something you’ve probably tried before. But don’t let failed attempts (and abandoned notebooks) stop you from trying again! Keeping a travel journal is an incredible way to gather all of your memories from your adventure – especially since experiencing a lot of new things in a short space of time means incredible experiences can be easily forgotten! I have to admit that I have struggled to stick to a travel journal on the majority of times I’ve attempted it. However, I’ve always done a good job of keeping receipts, tickets, brochures and maps whenever I’m travelling and have sometimes compiled these into travel journals after the fact (which is totally an option if you want to spend an afternoon lusting over the holiday that was).

A travel journal is best when:

  • You’re travelling – whether it’s in your own city, your own country or abroad
  • You love savouring your adventures while you’re still on them, and then again when you get home
  • You struggle to remember the little day-to-day details of a trip once you get home and wish you remembered more
  • You easily forget the names of cities, events and people
  • You want to use lists to keep yourself organised when you’re travelling

Here are some guidelines if you want to start a travel journal:

  • It almost goes without saying but make sure your travel journal is light and easy to carry around with you
  • I personally feel as though travel journals are the easiest to abandon so make sure you keep your journal concept simple and don’t beat yourself up if you skip a couple of days – pressuring yourself to backfill your journal is guaranteed to lead to abandonment!
  • Keep city maps, brochures and tickets to stick into your journal
  • Traveling always involves a lot of waiting (waiting for planes, waiting for buses, waiting in queues, waiting for happy hour…) so use that time to fill in your travel journal
  • If you’re travelling with friends who are also keeping journals, decide on a time each day you’ll fill in your travel journals together – they can also prompt your memory if you forget what you’ve done!
  • If you’re travelling light, consider going digital and using a blog or instagram account as your travel diary – you can even just use the notes on your iPhone.
  • You don’t just have to use your travel journal while you’re travelling – you can use it to keep track of your to-do lists before you go and to reflect on what you learned and experienced after you get home

Some things that might be helpful:

Want to start journaling? Here are the 10 best journaling ideas you have to try if you're a woman in your twenties!

9. PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT JOURNAL

I feel like everything on this list will help you become a better version of yourself, but if you’re like me and you LOVE personal development then you might like to have a specific journal that you use for all of your personal development work (I love doing this).

A personal development journal is best when:

  • You consume a lot of inspiring books, videos and podcasts episodes but you’re not applying what you learn
  • You tend to focus on the progress you haven’t made, rather than the progress you have
  • You love creating goals and plans to improve yourself
  • You always come up with things you want to try but forget about them before you get the chance
  • You want to increase your self-awareness and identify patterns in your behaviour
  • You want to become the best version of yourself that you can be

Here are some guidelines for if you want to start a personal development journal:

  • When you read a book, listen to a podcast episode or watch a video, do the exercises or assignments that they recommend in your personal development journal – you want to aim to spend 50% of your time learning and 50% of your time applying
  • My video on how to create a personal development plan is the perfect guide to help you start a personal development journal – you can watch it here.
  • If you need some inspiration and guidance, I go through my personal development journals and exactly how I fill them out in this video

Some things that might be helpful:

10. ONE LINE A DAY JOURNAL

If you love the idea of journaling but know you won’t be able to stick to it unless it’s extremely manageable, ‘one line a day’ journaling could be perfect for you! Basically, this one is exactly what it sounds like – writing one line (or one sentence) everyday in your journal. It’s a favourite among many and a cute way to keep track of your life.

A one line a day journal best when:

  • You want to keep your journaling habit as simple as possible
  • You only have a limited amount of time each day to journal
  • You love remembering aspects of your daily life that would otherwise be long forgotten
  • You’ve abandoned more elaborate and intricate methods of journaling

Here are some guidelines if you want to start a one line a day journal:

  • Buy a notebook that will house all of your journal entries – this is the type of thing you will want to keep in the same place
  • Alternatively, you can buy a notebook that is designed specifically for this type of journaling – I’ve linked a couple below
  • Start today, there’s no need to wait until the first day of the month or year
  • Tie your daily journaling habit to a habit that you do every day such as waking up, going to sleep, showering or brushing your teeth
  • Leave your journal somewhere that you will see often (so you don’t forget to fill it out)
  • When you’re first getting into the habit, it might also help to set a daily reminder on your phone
  • If you miss a few days or weeks, don’t pressure yourself to backfill your journal as this is what leads to abandonment

Some things that might be helpful:

Here are the best journaling ideas for women in their twenties, perfect if you want to start a journal or bullet journal.

GOING DIGITAL

There are also lots of ways you can journal digitally and any of the methods I’ve talked about above can be adapted! Plus there are other things you can do too. I have a daily vlog series called 365 Days of Personal Growth which is basically a video journal of my personal development journey. I also have this blog and while I don’t do dairy-style entries, it’s still a fun way for me to look back on the last 4 years of my life. Instagram can also be a journaling tool too!

HOW I FILL MY NOTEBOOKS & JOURNALS

At various times in my life I’ve used all sorts of different journaling methods and at the moment, there are a handful of different ways I use pen and paper to stay organised, come up with new ideas and empty my mind of unhelpful thoughts. So, I thought I’d film a YouTube video to show you which notebooks I use and how I fill them. Click here to watch the video

HOW I JOURNAL CONSISTENTLY

Starting a journal is one thing but sticking to a journal is another! While I’ve had some form of journaling habit for as long as I can remember, I’ve abandoned more journals than I would like to admit! Thankfully, I’ve finally found my groove and have managed to stay consistent with daily journaling – even though I tend to have an all-or-nothing mindset.

I recorded a podcast episode to share the simple things I do and don’t do so that I can stay consistent with my journaling habit. You can download the episode by clicking here, listen to the episode below or anywhere you listen to podcasts – just search for The Smart Twenties Podcast and find Episode 23.

READY TO GET STARTED?

If this blog post has inspired you to start (or re-start) a journaling habit, make sure you download the workbook I created that will help you make sure you’ve got all your bases covered and you create a habit that you’ll be able to stick to long-term! Just click the button below to download it now.

I hope you found this blog post helpful! And make sure you head over to the Smart Twenties Community on facebook if you have any questions you need answering.

Sam xx

A free workbook to help you kickstart a journaling habit, perfect if you want to start a morning routine or adopt some healthy habits

Author: Sam Brown