My Beginner’s Guide to Journaling

Have you ever decided you wanted to start journaling, so you picked up a new notebook, wrote down the events of your day, and then never picked up that journal again?

I’ve been there.

I think the reason that a lot of people give up journaling after a few days is because they have a lot of expectations going into it, and those expectations aren’t met from the start. That was certainly the case for me a few years ago. I kept hearing so many successful people talking about how journaling was life changing for them, but I wasn’t seeing those same results. At least not at first.

I finally became much more consistent with my journaling habit over the last year, and I can now see that it is a really powerful tool. But before you begin, you have to let go of all of our thoughts and expectations about it. Just go in with a clear and open mind.

What do you need to get started?

Any notebook will do. My recommendation? Get something that you like, but that isn’t too expensive. You want to be excited to go back and write everyday, so a notebook that is pleasing to you is important. However, you don’t want to feel any pressure when you start, or feel afraid to mess it up.

Of course, you’ll also need a writing instrument. Over the years, I have tried many different pens, pencils, markers—you name it. I like to stick to plain black ink using my favorite pen (I use Paper Mate InkJoy gel pens), but it really is up to you decide what you like!

Now what?

Now you write! I know you may be thinking, but what do I write about? That’s the beauty of journaling. There really is no right answer.

Some days, I finish watching a really interesting movie or reading a book that made me think about life in a new perspective, so I write out those thoughts.

Other days, something happens in the news that shakes me to my core, so I write down my opinions on it.

Or, I had a really great day, so I simply recount the events that happened, and explain how I felt.

Some days I create lists of things I want to try, habits I want to form, goals I have for the next month!

If you’re really struggling to think of something to write one day, don’t force it! Some people like to use prompts to get their writing going, but I’m not usually a huge fan of using prompts because I feel like journaling should be very organic and you should write what’s on your mind. Usually that will tell you more about what’s going on in your head in my opinion! BUT– if you like them & they work for you, by all means go for it! If I have nothing to write about, I just won’t write that day.

I think the thing that trips people up is that they believe they have to write everyday in order for journaling to be effective.

The real secret is consistency over the long term.

You can miss a day or two, but I would avoid missing more than two days. Try writing every other day, or fitting it into your schedule 4 days a week. And keep up with it for more than a week or two! Try to commit to a whole month to really let it become a habit.

I don’t even think about it anymore, journaling has just become part of my routine.

I’ve also started to think about things I want to write about during the day. If a thought pops up that I’d like to explore, I usually jot it down on a post it note or on my phone so that I can remember to write about it when I go to journal!

Final Thoughts

This is obviously not a very comprehensive guide. It’s simply the basics. But I really want to emphasize that there are no rules when it comes to journaling. You can make it whatever you’d like, just find what works for you.

You are officially ready to go off and explore your own mind! Good luck on your journey, you got this!

Do you journal already? Have you ever journaled before? What are your thoughts on it?

July Bullet Journal Spreads 2020

I have yet another bullet journal post for you guys today, and it might be my favorite one yet. I think I finally found the perfect bullet journal layout for myself and I am SO excited to share it with you all!

Let’s just take a look!

First up is my monthly spread. I no longer make a big calendar on here because I never use it. All of my planning is done in my weekly spreads, and if I need to see a calendar, I use a digital one!

I do, however, have a section for my goals and habit tracking. In the past, I tracked so many habits (between 5-10), but I realized that I didn’t actually care about the habits I was tracking. For example, I was tracking the days I read and the days that I drank enough water, but I do those things every single day— I don’t need my habit tracker to remind me of it.

For this month, I narrowed it down quite a lot, as you can see. I am now only tracking the days that I go for a run and that I meditate because those are two habits I’m working on getting more consistent at.

Another spread that I think is extremely important is my expense tracking sheet. I like having a record of the amount of money I spent so I can budget better, and also just remember where my money is going, in case I need to refer back to it. I don’t always use my card, I use cash sometimes, so it’s easy to forget about small purchases. This is a spread I’ve shown before, but I added a little spot at the bottom to add my total spent and earned!

Going back to tracking, I also want to track the days that I write, but as it’s Camp NaNo this month, I made a whole separate spread for it, which you can see in the picture on the right. All I’m writing in each of the squares is the word count I reach each day!

To the left of that page, I have a Reading Rush spread, which is empty as of now because I am not making an official TBR for it. I’m simply going to write down the challenges and fill it in as I read!

Moving on, we have my weekly spreads! Here you can see a little bit of it filled out, to show you how I use it! The month started on a Wednesday, so I used the extra space I had on the left to write a little quote! In the picture under this one, you can see what a full week spread looks like, though.

For this month, I decided I wanted to use a vertical layout, as I had in a previous month, but this time, I made it a little shorter. Instead, I added a to-do list section so that I can easily jot down anything I have on my mind to do in a given week, as well as a meal planning section. I am trying to go as gluten and dairy free as possible this month (mainly to see if it improves my digestion), so I wanted to include this spot to track my food & how I feel.

At the top, I can write down either a schedule for myself, or specific tasks I need to complete that day. I also have a section for notes at the end, which I usually use to jot down things I need to buy, blog post ideas, and anything else that pops up in my brain.

Finally, on the last week’s spread, I had some room (ignore the white out, I made a mistake), so I wrote down my daily routine for the morning. This is something I want to stick to as closely as possible for the month of July, and so far, it’s been working really well for me!

That is all for my July bullet journal layout! I am not sure how I am going to make my wrap-up page look yet because it all depends on how much I read. Normally I fill one out as I go, but this month I want to create it afterwards.

What do you think? I know it’s simple, but that is how all of my spreads are for this year, and it’s what works best for me! I like the functionality of it more than the design :)

What are some of your favorite spreads to make?

My First Ever Reading Journal // Review

I am a big journal-person, as many of you know. I have a bullet journal, a writer’s notebook, a daily journal, and more!

Most recently, I was sent a reading journal by Kunitsa Co., and I was so excited to start using it! I’ve never really used a reading journal before- I always tracked my reads on Goodreads and just in a spread in my bullet journal. I’ve also tried keeping a notebook where I write down notes for book reviews, but I don’t use it frequently.

What I like about this journal is that all of the pages are pre-made, so I do not have to worry about creating a new spread every month. Plus, everything is in one place, instead of scattered between all of my various notebooks.

Now, let’s take a look inside!


First, between each section of the journal, there are different quotes about reading (mainly by famous authors), and they are such a treat to read. I think this is a great addition to the journal because it makes it easier to find each section that you may need.

As far as the actual spreads in it, it contains…

  • Daily Reading Tracker: This functions as your typical “habit tracker” if you are familiar with the spread in bullet journals! Basically, you can just color in a square for every day that you read!
  • Reading Challenge: There are 3 reading challenge pages where you can keep track of your progress and fill up the page by increments of 10%! I definitely want to take advantage of this when I set my reading challenge next year.
  • Books to Read: This is fairly obvious, but you can track what books you want to read (you can keep track of books you own but haven’t read yet, or maybe books you want to buy so you have a list next time you go shopping).
  • Books Finished: Here, you can track the title, author, and date you finished the book! My only wish is that it had a section for star ratings, as that is something I like to quickly refer to.
  • Favorite Books: Another self-explanatory one!
  • Did Not Finish (DNFs): In this section, you can jot down a couple of words/sentences about why you did not finish the book, which I think is very helpful!
  • Books Lent Out: If you are someone who lends out your books to others frequently, this is such a useful spread to have! I do not really ever lend out books (mostly because none of my friends are big readers), but if I ever do, this will be something I use.
  • Books Borrowed: I like this page because you can keep track of books you’ve borrowed from friends or from the library! I think this will be a really good spread for me to keep track of all of my loans, as well as what date they are due so that I do not forget!
  • Reviews: Finally, there are 50 blank pages specifically for writing reviews! On the left hand side of the page, you can write down the title, author, choose if you listened to the audiobook or read it physically, write down the date you started/finished it, and even write down some more details such as the genre, number of pages, whether it was recommended to you by someone, etc. It also has specific questions that you can answer about the book (which is super helpful if you are new to reviewing and do not know what to write). The right side is blank for you to write any of your own thoughts or quotes you liked!

In addition, it has a spot to write the start and end date for when you started using the journal, so you can get one for each year, every 50 books you read, every six months, etc. This is such a great way to keep track of your reading not just this year, but for many years to come!

There is also an index page, a small introduction, and some inspiration/sample pages at the end!


As far as the overall quality, I would say this is a really solid journal. The pages feel thicker than your average book, and they are so smooth. The cover is covered in cloth, and the journal itself feels very sturdy. I definitely think this journal can withstand a year or more of use, so do not worry about that at all!

It also has two bookmarks, which are standard quality.

All in all, I really have no complaints about this journal! It is small, lightweight, and easily portable for those who read on long commutes or travels. It is aesthetically pleasing, and the pages are all designed with thought and care. The quality is great- I will definitely be using this product and I highly recommend you check it out if you are looking for a reading journal (or if you are looking for a gift to send to a bookworm friend!).

If you want to purchase this journal for yourself, you can do so by clicking here. You can also check out the company’s Instagram page if you want to keep up with any new journal releases they might have!

Do you use a reading journal? If so, what kind?

May Bullet Journal Spread

Hello! I have not shared a bullet journal spread with you all since FEBRUARY because my spreads have all pretty much been the same. My 2020 bullet journal is very minimalistic because I wanted it to serve a specific function & not just be a pretty design (there is nothing wrong with making intricate spreads & I LOVE looking at them, it just wasn’t effective for me personally!!).

This month, I did change some things up, so I decided I would share the spread with you guys!

May BuJo 2020

First up, we have my goals and TBR page. I don’t do a monthly calendar anymore because I don’t use it that much. Most of my monthly planning goes on a google sheets page I have, or on my phone calendar!

I use my overview page to instead write down some goals, as well as my TBR for the month. I like having these written down because seeing it helps me to say on track.

Next to this, I have my expenses sheet, which is one of the most important pages in my monthly spread. I think it’s a really great habit to track your expenses so you can see where your money is going. Plus, knowing that I will have to write down everything I buy makes me want to save my money even more. Each month I try to make this sheet emptier than the previous one!

May BuJo 2020

Next up is my habit tracker! I changed up the format from my previous posts because I think it is easier to use and much cleaner. I also changed some of the habits that I’m tracking because my priorities are different. Plus, I realized that I was tracking some things unnecessarily because I was already doing them every day, or they just weren’t important.

This month, I will be tracking…
1. reading
2. writing
3. working out
4. running
5. drinking enough water
6. meditating
7. any days that I bit my nails (hopefully none)
8. getting enough hours of sleep

May BuJo 2020

Moving on, we go straight into my weekly spreads. You could see some of it in the last picture, but here is a full week’s spread.

I decided to give myself room vertically this month instead of horizontally because I like to plan my days out by hour. This way, I can write down my most important tasks, and I can write out a schedule for myself each day.

So far, I am really liking this method of to-do list-making.

At the bottom of each day, I also write down what workouts I am doing (including the days I want to go for a run). For now, I kept them in pencil just in case if I decide I want to do a different workout one day, or if I injure myself and can’t run (which happened last week).

I also have room at the end of the week to write down any notes that I have. This space is usually dedicated to grocery lists or tasks that I need to move over to the next week!

let's chat

Overall, I’m really happy with my spreads this month, despite how simple they are. I am very glad that I decided to go with a minimalistic BuJo this year because it has been much more sustainable for me. I’ve actually been sticking with it for months now!

Let me know what you think in the comments :)


Journal With Me #6

Wow, it has been quite a while since I’ve done an art journaling post. I don’t usually journal anymore (aside from the spreads in my bujo), so I never make these posts. But, I was recently inspired to do a spread for the movie “La La Land” because I had just re-watched it!

It is one of my favorite movies, so I figured a page in my journal is necessary.

So, here is that page :)

I started off with my blank journal and some screenshots I printed out of the movie.

After I cut and arranged them in a way that I liked, I glued them down and outlined the entire thing in black. I wasn’t really pleased with how this came out, so I added some hints of gold along the border as well.

Overall, I’m not super satisfied with this, but it’s okay. I tried to make the most of it!

Then, I wrote out one of my favorite quotes from the movie on the left-hand side in gold and added another quote on the top right. To top it off, I added a piece of washi tape, and that was it!

This was one of my simplest pages, but I am happy with how it came out.

Here is the final outcome :)

La La Land Journal

let's chat

Do you art journal at all? I think it’s very therapeutic, and it’s something I want to get back into doing.

If you follow any art journal accounts (on Youtube, Pinterest, Instagram, WordPress, anywhere!), please share them in the comments! I am looking for all the inspiration!


February 2020 BuJo Setup

Can you believe I’m actually being a consistent human being for once and I’m posting my February bullet journal spread? Me either.

But I’m doing it.

My bullet journal setup for this month is pretty similar to last month’s if I’m being honest. All I simply did was tweak a few of the pages that were not working for me last month, and I kept the ones that were.

I’m hoping to get more creative with my spreads in the future, but for now, I’m really just working on practicality and ease.

The first two pages of my spread are a little monthly overview. On the left-hand side, I have a section for my goals for the month (which I did not write in yet because I had not decided them when I made the spread).

On the bottom, I have room for my TBR, which I have actually already posted on the blog, so check that out if you’re interested! Then, on the right side of the page, I created a calendar so that I can have a monthly view. I use this mainly to track blog posts that are going up, as well as big events or birthdays!

Moving on, I have a spread for my habit tracking. Last month, I made individual blank calendars for each habit I wanted to track, but I really did not like that method. I know it’s pretty common in the bujo community, but for me, it was just very confusing.

Instead, for this month I created one “spreadsheet-style” spread to use. This was I can clearly see each day marked, and I can track even more habits. I think this method will be much more effective for me to use, so I’m excited about it!

On the other side, I have an expense tracker. I am working really hard on budgeting this year and getting my finances is order. I am going to be attempting a “no buy” month for February because January’s was not successful (mainly due to illness + school stuff, so I had to spend more money than I would have liked).

February BuJo 2020

Finally, we have my weekly spreads! This month is pretty similar to last month’s as well, as far as the horizontal layout goes. But, I do feel like I have more room to write under each day this time around, so I’m liking that a little more.

In the next month, I probably want to experiment with a vertical layout instead, but for now, this is something that worked for me, so why change it?

let's chat

Leave a link to any bullet journal posts you’ve done, if any, because I am always looking for inspiration! If you liked this post, definitely let me know. I’m not sure if I will continue posting these monthly, but I am having fun creating them, so if you want them, I’ll do them!

See you soon.


Bullet Journal Setup for 2020 ft. January Spread

If you’ve been here for a while, you know how much I L O V E organization. Planners, to-do lists, notebooks- anything I can use to make my life less chaotic.

I’ve used a bullet journal on and off for years now, but I recently started using it more consistently. I knew that it was something I wanted to continue to use in 2020, and I designed it in a way that I really love and that I think will suit my needs very well.

Today I wanted to show you what that looks like! I went for a very minimalistic theme- I’m sticking to black, white, and grey. Eventually, I want to incorporate some gold, but I need to buy a gold pen first.

Anyways, let’s move on to my key and cover page!


January 2020 BuJo

The key is a fairly plain page- I drew a key on it just for that play on words, and I kept the actual symbols I use very simple. I use a square for tasks, a circle for events, and a bullet point for notes. I also have an index but it is very basic and not very interesting, so I did not include a picture. Basically, it just has the name of the page plus the page number next to it.

Then, for my cover page, I just printed out a little graphic I made that says “Hello 2020” and I wrote a quote at the top that says “Let this be the year you go after courage.” I am not entirely happy with this page, but I’m glad I made some mistakes right from the start, so now I don’t have to worry about keeping the journal perfect.

January 2020 BuJo

From there, I have my year-at-a-glance pages which I just use to keep track of holidays and birthdays. It’s also helpful to refer back to when I’m creating my monthly spreads. I’m really happy with the way this came out!

January 2020 BuJo

The next page is one I absolutely needed to include- it’s my goals for the year page! I divided it up into personal and professional goals (professional being school and blog related; personal being everything else). I talked more in-depth about my reading goals here, and I will have a post dedicated to my personal goals up soon!

I also have a stats page because I think it’s fun to look back at my growth for the year. I don’t want to focus on the numbers in 2020, but I do like to have some sort of record, just so I can see what I should be working harder on, what I need to change, etc.

January 2020 BuJo

Next up we have some reading related pages! Last year I kept track of the books I purchased, and I wanted to do that again this year- especially since my goal is to limit my buying to 10 books or less. I also created a list of the top 15 books I absolutely want to get to this year. I have a huge backlist of books to read, but these are the ones I’m most excited about.

Next up is my ARCs list- I have a ton of backlist ARCs, but I decided to only list 2020 ARCs on here because those are ones I want to make sure I get to! After that is a page where I can write down blog post ideas as they come to me!

January 2020 BuJo

From there we have my wish list page, which is just a place where I can keep track of all of the things I want to buy if I have the spare money. I’m trying to save more money this year, so I wanted to include this page to keep track of things I would like to get rather than buying them on impulse as I tend to do.

The last page before we get to January is a brain dump page. Basically, this is just a spot where I can jot down random things that come to mind or that I want to remember. Rather than having a ton of sticky notes lying around (as I usually do), I can keep them stored here!


January 2020 BuJo

Here are the main spreads I did for January! Of course, the first page includes my goals as well as a TBR for the month. I am big on monthly goals, and I try to align my monthly goals with my yearly goals so that I am constantly working on them. The other side of the spread has a calendar that I use mainly to plan out my blog posts and the occasional birthday or big event. I have a separate school planner that I use to keep track of assignments and social activities, so this one is more business-related.

Then, I have a page to track some habits. I’m not sure how I feel about this layout for it yet; I usually do one big table that I think I like better from a practical standpoint. Though, the aesthetic of this one makes up for it a bit.

The following page is for tracking my expenses. I am slowly getting into budgeting, so this is something that I always try to incorporate in my monthly trackers.

January 2020 BuJo

This is how I decided to set up my weekly spreads in my BuJo this month! I don’t love the way it is looks, but it’s quick and simple, which is what I care about the most. The practicality of the journal is more important to me than the looks, which is why I don’t do elaborate spreads (even though I think they are gorgeous).

January 2020 BuJo

Finally, I have a very simple wrap-up page where I am just going to write down the books I read plus what rating I gave them!

On the page next to that, I glued in a list of the American Film Institute’s “Top 100 Best Movies.” One of my goals for 2020 is to watch all of them (about 2 per week). I inserted the list in my bullet journal so I can track my progress.

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That is it for how my bullet journal looks! If you use a bullet journal, definitely let me know what other spreads you use, so maybe I can incorporate them in future months!

Thanks for reading, see you soon!


October Reading Journal Spread / Blogtober Day 3

Hello everyone! Today I thought I’d share my October reading/blogging journal spread with you. I am pretty proud of how it came out, and I think it’s just super cute. It’s not as intricate as some of my spreads in the past, but I’ve been trying to go for a more minimalist approach.

October 19 reading journal

First up is the “cover” page for October. It just has two little pumpkins and my attempt at some pretty script lettering. Handwriting is not my strong point, so I’m slowly working on it by trying new things.

October 19 reading journal

Then we’ve got my monthly layout! I use this page for planning out what blog posts are going up when, so those are all blurred out (no peeking). I’ve also got a little square on the side for tracking my goals for the month. These are usually color-coded depending on what category they fit into- for example, blogging, school, fitness, etc.

October 19 reading journal


Finally, I have a wrap-up page. This is how I keep track of what books I’ve read during the month. It’s obviously blank right now (we’re only 3 days into the month), so there’s not much to see on it. Usually, I just include my star rating and a couple of words about the book and my thoughts!

I think this month I’m also going to print out pictures of the covers and glue those on!

October 19 reading journal

let's chat

My reading journal doesn’t have that much going on in it for this month, as I’ve been using my school planner a lot more frequently. But, I hope you still enjoyed this post and maybe got some inspiration from it!

Do you use a reading journal?


Journal With Me #5

It has been a very long time since I’ve done a journal with me post! I haven’t been in the mood to journal at all in the past few months, and I honestly can’t pinpoint why. I want to say it is a lack of motivation rather than inspiration, but I can’t really say what it is. I actually do feel both motivated and inspired. But my energy has been more focused towards my blog, writing/reading, and health/fitness. Journaling just hasn’t been a top priority like it used to be, and I just don’t find it as fun.

However, I missed a day of school this week, and I felt like getting back into it, even if it just with one page. I miss the feeling of satisfaction after completing a page, so I knew I wanted to at least try to work on it.

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I began by adding some cardstock paper with some different designs on the blank page and just filled in a quote I liked. Then, I found a magazine clipping that I really liked and trimmed the edges around to fit onto the page and I ended up really liking the look.

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Then, I added some washi tape and another magazine clipping, as well as some lines around the girl. As you can see in the next picture though, I ended up not liking what I did, so I used acrylic paint to black it out instead.

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This definitely suited my style a lot more, and I am so pleased with the result! As for the finishing touches, I just added some little stickers, and I topped it off with another quote! Sometimes I fill empty space with some of my writing, but I was lacking the inspiration at the time.

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chat with me

I know it has been a while since I’ve done one of these, but would you guys want me to post some more soon? Please let me know, because I only want to do them if you’d be interested :)

Xo, Jess

Bullet Journal: April Spread

Today’s post is going to be all about my April spread for my bullet journal! If you haven’t heard about the bullet journal, it is basically a DIY planner that is super customizable and easy to change around to fit your needs!

Currently, I use my bujo to track my daily habits, write to-do lists, keep a list of my ARCs to read, and remind me of important events!

At the beginning of each month, I draw out a little calendar for the month, and I also write a list of important events to remember. Also, something very important is writing out my goals for the month. I like to keep this at the front so I can be constantly reminded to work towards them. Usually, they are book, fitness, or blog related!


Right after that, I draw out my monthly habit tracker! These are things I try to do as often as possible. Marking them off everyday helps to keep me motivated.


Now, onto the daily spread! This month, I decided to go for a simple-yet-classy look! You can see how I use it in the picture below!


I try to write all of the most important tasks that I have to complete for the day. As you can see, some days are a lot more productive than others.

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Please let me know what you think down below, and if you have written any bujo posts, leave them in the comments! I am always looking for more inspiration :)

Xo, Jess