A blank book is never really blank. It’s filled with possibilities. If you’re like many people, chances are good that you are drawn to notebooks and journals. However, perhaps you’re not certain how you would use one.
Fortunately, there are countless ideas for using a notebook. Forty of them are listed here, but it is possible that you will find more.
When used regularly, a blank notebook can be a dependable tool for bringing more calm and order to your life. You may become more productive, and there is an excellent chance that you’ll experience more happiness along your journey.
Here are 40 things to write in a notebook.
1. Time Tracker
Better time management may be the key to enhancing your productivity and happiness. However, it’s not easy to change your relationship with time until you understand how much of it you spend on certain projects and where you waste it.
This is one of those notebook ideas that could really change the way you live. Start writing down how much time it takes you to complete particular tasks. Simply glance at the clock when you start a project, then look again when it’s complete. Are you surprised by how much time it took? Are there ways that you could streamline the process so that it takes less time?
You might combine this idea with the use of a planner like the Clever Fox Planner. This makes it possible to get really specific about how much time you’re spending on different tasks and errands. You’ll gain a much more realistic sense of how much time it takes to complete certain things, leading to better time management and improved productivity.
2. Health Journal
Do you have a serious or chronic health condition that can affect your day-to-day life? If so, then this is one of the most important things to do with a notebook.
Not everyone has a chronic health condition, but for those who do, it can wreak havoc on their lives. Use a notebook to track symptoms, report how you are feeling and to record what medications and treatments you’re using.
When you have a flare up that interferes with your life, take a look back at your journal to see if you can find a possible trigger. Take copious notes when a medication or treatment helps you feel really great. That’s an experience you’ll want to look back on and repeat often.
3. Inspirational Quotes
Whenever you come across a quote that gives you hope or fills you with meaning and purpose, resolve to write it down. The next time you’re having a difficult day or are just struggling to get by, reach for your notebook. Chances are good that you will find the inspiration that you seek.
4. Five New Things
These things to write in a notebook are highly customizable. For instance, you don’t have to do five things. You could do three, 10 or any other number instead.
What’s important is that you record a certain number of new things each day. It could be things you learned, things you saw, things that made you smile, things you want to learn or a combination of all of these things.
The magic of this process is that it makes you examine your day with far more detail than you ordinarily would. You’ll look at things that went right, what went wrong and perhaps even brainstorm some ways to ensure that you’ll do better tomorrow.
Essentially, this process puts you on a path toward continuous improvement and happiness.
5. Reading Diary
This is another one of those things to do with a paper notebook that has a great deal of range. You might keep a diary only of novels that you read or only of the self-help books that have been particularly meaningful to you. Alternatively, you could keep a journal of everything you read, including articles, memos and letters.
Why might a reading diary be important? It enhances your engagement with the material you’re reading. You may analyze it more carefully when you know that you’re going to write about it later.
A reading diary also serves to improve your memory. Whenever you struggle to remember to which book a scene or character belonged, you’ll have the answer at your fingertips. You also can record favorite quotes or concepts that are particularly meaningful to you.
6. Food Diary
You are what you eat, and that’s why keeping a food diary is so necessary. The food you consume has a direct effect on how you feel and on your energy levels. Excess intake of fat, sugar and unnecessary calories may leave you feeling sluggish and depressed.
Eat a healthy meal, on the other hand, and notice the difference in your energy levels. Suddenly, your mind seems sharper and clearer. You feel like you could take on the world or at least clean out the garage.
Record everything you eat, every day, and devise a system of tracking how you feel on each day. Something as simple as smiley faces and sad faces could work.
Soon, you’ll start to notice patterns emerging. This will help you avoid foods that aren’t helpful to you and focus on the ones that leave you feeling great. You also can track calories if you’re trying to lose weight.
7. Fitness Journal
If you work out and you’ve wondered what to use a notebook for, this could be your answer. Many people who exercise find that they have difficulty meeting goals or that no matter how much they work out, they never seem to make any progress.
The problem may be that they are not tracking their workouts adequately. Without tracking, it’s hard to manage goals or measure improvement.
Each week when the same exercises are repeated, you can go for heavier weights and more reps.
For a cardio journal, you would use similar statistics, but note the kind of workout you did and how long it lasted. Record your heart rate, distance covered and calories burned. If you’re using equipment, keep notes regarding speed, incline and resistance. This makes it easier to know what to strive for in your next workout.
8. Book of Lists
Here is another one of those notebook ideas that gives you plenty of latitude. You can list absolutely anything you like. Your favorite movies, singers, authors, podcasts and blogs could all make fascinating lists that may evolve over time. Other lists could include places you’d love to travel, books you’d like to read or your career goals for the next five years. Be as creative as you like.
9. Gratitude Journal
Focusing on gratitude is a wonderful method for bringing more positivity and happiness into your life. Even on your darkest days, there are things for which you can be thankful.
Maybe you’re fighting with your spouse, but you can reflect on your good health. Perhaps your day at work was incredibly stressful. However, your gratitude journal can help you to focus on how grateful you are to have a roof over your head and food on the table.
Even on those ordinary days, it’s still helpful to consider everything you have to be grateful for. Family, friends, daffodils, Beethoven’s music, hummingbirds, a welcome rain shower and almost anything else you can think of may be a source of gratitude.
10. Goals Notebook
Studies have shown that writing down goals is one of the secrets to achieving them. It also may help to be as detailed as possible, and writing it out can really help you to get down to the smallest details to ensure that you have a plan for meeting your goal. Plus, writing down your goals may make it easier to track your progress toward each one.
When it comes to what to write in a notebook of your goals, it pays to be as specific as possible. Record the steps that you’ll have to take along your journey, and set parameters so that you can measure your progress. You’ll feel an amazing sense of accomplishment when you occasionally look back at the notebook to see how far you’ve come.
11. Blog Logbook
Many people have blogs today. Some write blogs just for the enjoyment of it while others do so in connection with their work. Regardless, it may be helpful to have a notebook in which you write about each blog that you post.
It’s also sensible to use your notebook to capture ideas for upcoming blogs. Brainstorm topics and write down possible references you can use to research the subject. You won’t have to worry about forgetting a great blog post idea when you have everything recorded in your notebook. You’ll also be much more organized when it comes time to actually write the post.
12. Recipe Book
The space on most recipe cards is quite limited, but recipes are wonderful things to write in a notebook. Each recipe can have a page or two devoted to it, and you’ll have plenty of space to make notes about helpful alterations to the recipe that you discover along the way.
With a notebook filled with your favorite recipes, you’ll never have to go hunting for a little three by five card again. If a family member is sharing a favorite recipe with you, ask them to make their own notations and suggestions. Your recipe notebook could become a family heirloom.
It turns out that doodling isn’t necessarily mindless or a waste of time. One 2009 study suggests that the habit actually helps concentration.
Doodling in sketchbook might also help you to be more creative and find innovative solutions to problems. So rather than trying to train yourself not to doodle, make it a habit that you nurture instead.
14. Daily “To Do” Lists
This is another one of those things to do with a notebook that might be wise to use in conjunction with the Clever Fox Planner. If you’re already a list maker, then you know how satisfying it is to be able to cross items off the list as you accomplish them.
If you’re not a list maker, then it’s a good idea to give the process a try. A daily to do list helps to keep you on track, ensuring that you don’t forget something important. Moreover, you’ll be less likely to miss deadlines, and you just might notice that you’re far more productive.
A to do list can help to drive you toward your goals, especially when it’s specific and realistic. Soon, you’ll understand why people who make to do lists are so addicted to the practice.
15. Unsent Letter Book
Do you ever have one of those days in which your emotions just get the better of you? On some of these days, you may be able to express yourself to someone else who may be contributing to your mood.
However, that kind of outlet isn’t always available. When you’re feeling overwhelmed by emotions, particularly negative ones, then you’ll know what to write in a notebook with your good writing pen. Pen a letter to the person who angered or disappointed you. Explain in detail what they did and how it made you feel.
The physical act of writing out your feelings, even if the letter never is sent, provides you with a necessary, healthy outlet so that you can let go of those negative emotions and get back to a more positive frame of mind.
16. Interior Design Planner
Whether you are redecorating a home or office, the prospect is both exciting and daunting. Where do you begin, and how do you corral all of the ideas swirling around in your head?
Use a notebook not only to jot down your ideas but also to organize fabric swatches and paint samples. When you find an inspiring picture in a magazine, add it to your notebook. This is an excellent method for mixing and matching all of your ideas, which leads to less stress, better organization and a more cohesive design in whatever space you’re renovating.
17. Supplies Inventory
You don’t need specialized software to keep track of items you have on hand. In fact, if you’re a hobbyist, then getting software to manage your supplies may be overkill.
Use a simple notebook instead. Write down which paints or embroidery flosses you have stashed away or maintain a working inventory of the screws, nuts and bolts that are in your supply. Better yet, make a note concerning where each of these items is stored.
Hobbies are meant to be fun and relaxing, but when your supplies are jumbled and disorganized and you don’t have an inventory list to manage them, hobbies stop being fun and start being work. Use your notebook to track your inventory to enhance your enjoyment.
18. Project Tracker
Have you ever felt as if you were utterly lost in the midst of a major project? Maybe it’s because you weren’t tracking your progress.
You can design this notebook any way you please. Give the project a name, and make a list of all the steps you need to accomplish. Designate at least one notebook page to each of these steps. On those pages, write down questions, resources and information that will help you finish that particular step. Make your notes comprehensive so that if you have to drop your project for a while, you’ll know exactly where you left it.
You won’t believe how much more productive a project-tracking notebook will make you.
19. Menu Planner
Questions regarding what’s for dinner have plagued families for decades. Everyone is so busy. Is there really time to enjoy home-cooked meals?
A menu planner can be a lifesaver. That’s especially true when you’re trying to eat healthier or save money by not dining out as often. A little bit of planning each week can save you time and money as well as help you to lose weight.
Once a week, sit down with your notebook and plan the meals for the next seven days. Use this plan to make your grocery list, which should mean that you only have to make once-a-week shopping trips. You’ll never have to wonder what’s for dinner, or lunch or breakfast, again.
20. Books to Read List
When it comes to what to use a notebook for, this one is pretty flexible. In addition to books, you could add television shows and movies you’d like to see and the websites you’d like to visit. This notebook will make it so much easier for you to decide what to read or watch next.
21. Garden Planner
Consider using a notebook with gridlines for this one. The gridlines make it easy to sketch a map of your flower beds so that you can record what’s planted. No more trying to remember which plant was put in a particular spot. At a glance, you can find information concerning how much water and sunlight the plant needs.
You also can make notes in your gardening planner regarding whether or not your plants are thriving and to keep track of various fertilizers and other products that you may be using.
22. Diary of Dreams
This diary can have a two-fold purpose. First, it can be fascinating to write down the dreams you have when you’re asleep. Try to do this immediately upon awakening, when your dream is still fresh in your mind. It’s interesting to see if your dreams have any recurring themes.
Second, use this diary as a place to record your waking dreams. In other words, write down the things you’d love to do with your life and brainstorm ways to get there. Let your thoughts roam with this one. You might be surprised at the results.
23. Lists of 100
This is an excellent exercise for whenever you have a problem or want to do some serious brainstorming. The topic could be almost anything: 100 Ways to Nurture Myself, 100 Ways to Reduce Stress or 100 Ways to Resolve Conflicts.
In the beginning, this sounds overwhelming. Is it even possible to come up with 100 ways to solve a certain problem? It may be hard to get started but stick with it. Eventually, your subconscious mind takes over, and you’ll be stunned by some of the things this exercise can reveal.
24. Meditation Journal
Many people are taking up meditation as a means to decrease stress, increase focus and enjoy greater peace of mind. Meaningful meditation takes regular practice, and keeping a journal of this process can be incredibly valuable.
Examining each meditation experience helps you to see where your practice is working and where you may need to improve your focus. Over time, you’ll see just how far you’ve come and how much your experience of meditation has changed.
25. Mindfulness Diary
If you’re looking for greater calmness and clarity in your day, then mindfulness practice can be of tremendous help. You can track your journey toward better moment-by-moment awareness by using a mindfulness diary.
Writing in such a journal not only helps you express your feelings and clear your mind but also supports a more mindful lifestyle. You could write about three mindful moments that you experienced during the day or reflect on the events of the day and how mindfulness techniques enriched your experiences.
26. Events of the Day
It can be incredibly useful to keep track of what happens each day. Recording the minutiae of the day over time reveals interesting patterns. It also shows that life is often more momentous than is realized at the moment.
Feel free to include anything you like. What you ate, people you spoke with, the projects you worked on and more can all provide insight down the line. This notebook affords you an excellent snapshot of your everyday life.
27. Special Event Planner
Weddings, parties and holidays frequently require a great deal of planning. You may have to coordinate with family and friends, not to mention service providers and vendors. Keeping track of it all and not forgetting any of the details can be a nightmare.
If you’re looking for things to write in a notebook or goal planner, try recording everything you can think of to plan that special event. Use lists, timelines, brainstorming and more to keep yourself coordinated and sane.
28. Daily Scrapbook
This is a fun notebook idea because it combines writing with photographs and memorabilia. Scrapbooking has been popular for years, but you don’t have to be particularly creative or spend a fortune to enjoy it.
A simple lined notebook and some imagination are all you need. Write entries about anything you like. Birthday parties, trips, a museum visit or that plant that finally bloomed. Affix photos and ephemera, like ticket stubs, to the appropriate page. It makes a fun record of the moment.
29. Habit-Building Journal
Building a good habit requires time and persistence. You can track your progress in a notebook. It can be as simple as making a notation to indicate every time you “practice” your habit.
For instance, if you want to start drinking a gallon of water a day, you could start recording your water intake. For extra fun, write a few notes about how you feel now that you’re drinking more water. This will help to reinforce the memory of why you started the habit in the first place.
30. Bullet Journal
If you feel like you’re constantly disorganized and struggling to keep up, then bullet journaling may be the solution for you. Bullet journaling is a revolutionary technique that helps you plan your days, weeks and months with ease. It’s really flexible, so you can always tailor it to meet your needs. In addition to helping you plan and get things done, you may find that you’re leading a fuller and more meaningful life because you’re living with intention.
31. Affirmations Log
Many people are plagued by negative thoughts, but an affirmations log can change that. You may use affirmations when you meditate or whenever you notice that you’re engaging in negative self-talk. Writing down your favorite affirmations may trigger some healthy reflection and serve as a useful prompt when you’re choosing an affirmation for the day.
32. Short Stories
Short story writing is a wonderful way to express yourself and let your creative energies flow. As your imagination takes flight, you’ll be surprised by how many ideas you have. Keep honing your skills as a writer, and then submit one of your stories for a contest or publication.
33. Bucket List Planner
The idea of a bucket list is a worthy one. Yours can contain all of your aspirations, both large and small. “Learn to crochet” can be next to “travel to Tibet” or “start a business.” Keep adding to your list as the years go by, and have a celebration every time you can cross one of those items off of your list.
34. Financial Goals Tracker
Financial goals are every bit as important to your overall success as your professional aspirations. However, if you aren’t planning for things like buying a house, starting a company or retiring before 50, then you can’t realistically expect to achieve your goal.
Use a notebook to record your short- and long-term financial goals. Go into detail about how to reach that aim, and then track your progress along the journey.
35. Hobby Diary
Hobbies can be a gratifying way to spend free time. Sometimes, they turn into full-time jobs or side gigs while other times they simply remain a rewarding pastime. Keep a notebook with you while you enjoy your hobby. Making notes about the products you used and techniques you tried can be helpful down the line when you’re trying to remember what worked and what didn’t.
36. Travel Scrapbook
Anyone who loves to travel will appreciate this idea. Take a notebook with you on your travels whether it is a day trip or a three-week odyssey. Journal about all of your experiences, and don’t forget to include ticket stubs, pictures and other items that add color and texture to your recollections.
37. A Happy List
It can be rewarding simply to reflect on the things that make you happy. It could be something small like a baby’s smile or a major event like a friend’s wedding. Perhaps the mere fact that the sun finally came out after days of rain is enough to put a smile on your face. Take a few moments to list all of the things that make you happy. It’s fascinating to see how this list evolves and grows over time.
38. Five Senses Journal
It’s easy to feel out of touch with the world around you, especially when you’re exceptionally busy. Keeping a journal of the five senses is a wonderful way for you to really notice more of the things that make life enjoyable. Every day, spend a few moments listing things that you saw, heard, tasted, smelled or felt. This will have a positive impact as you go through the day looking for something to appreciate.
39. Morning Pages
Start each day by writing three pages of whatever is on your mind. Your writing may be contradictory and make little sense, but it can also help to organize and clarify your thoughts. You may find that you are set up for a more productive and rewarding day just by tapping into your subconscious before the day really begins.
40. A Curiosity Journal
The world is a big place, and it’s impossible to know everything about it. Whenever you encounter a word, concept or situation that is unfamiliar, jot down some notes. Later, you can research to learn more about the subject. Leave space in each journal entry to record the answers you find.