Journaling Tips for Filofax & Ring Planner Users

Be your own therapist with these great journaling tips for Filofax & ring planner users.

If you have ever had professional therapy you will know that essentially therapy provides you with a safe space to explore yourself and your experiences. 

In the therapeutic space, you have the opportunity to empty your head of all confusing thoughts and feelings, laying them out for self-reflection so that you can clearly analyse your actions and reactions, or those of others. Then you can understand what has happened and work out a plan to improve things so that you can be a more productive and happy person.

Well isn't that exactly what the function of a journal or a planner is? Record, reflect & resolve!

Writing in a journal is a great way of connecting with yourself. In my opinion, it is the next best thing to having your own therapist. And I have had a professional therapist (a human one, not a paper one), so I know what I am talking about.

I have put together a few tips to help you develop a journaling habit that is both functional, therapeutic and fun. Keeping a journal doesn't have to be a struggle or a chore.

Carry Your Journal With You

The wonderful thing about your paper therapist (or journal), is that you can have access to it whenever you need to, without having to wait until your next therapy session. (I distinctly remember a week feeling like a very long time to wait.)

Why not keep a section in your Filofax or other ring planner system dedicated to jotting down thoughts, and then at the end of the day or week you can transfer them to a home binder? This will encourage you to read over what you have written for self-reflection too, which is an important part of productive journaling.

I have a separate notebook dedicated as my "journal" that I keep alongside another notebook that I have set up as my everyday diary with yearly, monthly and weekly spreads. Both of these notebooks live together in my Midori Traveler's Notebook, which is a good size to carry around with me if I need to. 

Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay 

Keep Journal Entries Short

It can be difficult to think of what to write in a journal, especially when you are new to it, and this can put you off writing regularly. It is important to be consistent when forming new habits though. 

Writing a short journal entry every single day is much more productive than writing a long and rambling one every now and then, at least while you are establishing your new journaling habit.

Why not decide on a time and place to sit down and write in your journal every single day? The morning is a good time if you would prefer to contemplate the day ahead. The evening, on the other hand, is a good time if you want to reflect on the day you have had. You don't need to ramble on for ages, just set aside ten minutes, or aim to write a couple of paragraphs.

Writing journal entries in a section of your Filofax or other personal organiser is a great incentive to keep entries short and to the point, as there is often not a lot of writing space in personal or pocket-sized planners.

Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay 

Don't Write Every Day

I know that I have said it is important to develop a habit of writing in your journal, and that writing every single day can be a way to establish this habit. The problem is that if you don't have enough to write about every single day you can end up using your journal as a "recording" device rather than a "reflective" tool, and this can make journaling feel pointless, repetitive, and unfulfilling.

Don't forget that the point of journaling isn't really to record all of the activities of your day, it is to reflect upon how you feel and evaluate how productive you are being. It is also a way for you to solve problems and grow as a person. 

Not all of us have something we need to mentally or emotionally work through on a daily basis. If this is you, then maybe you should think about a journaling schedule that suits you better. For example, journaling at the weekend might be more useful. Or just journaling when you feel you need to.

Journaling is a very personal activity, so you should do what you have to in order to make it work for you.

Image by free stock photos from from Pixabay 

Journal In A Cheap Notebook

Normally I would suggest choosing a beautiful leather-bound journal and an expensive pen to write down your thoughts, but when you are new to journaling this can actually make the whole process so much more intimidating. It may even put you off writing altogether because you don't want to make a mistake and ruin your beautiful setup or waste expensive ink and paper.

Cheap notebooks or loose sheets of paper in a Filofax or other ring binder can take away that sense of pressure and expectation, giving you more freedom to focus on your thoughts than your handwriting. I quite like Field Notes and Moleskine notebooks because they can easily fit inside a personal Filofax or TN cover.

Once you get into journaling and become more confident there is nothing to say that you can't upgrade to something more special and dedicated if you really want to. Alternatively, if you take to journaling like a fish to water, then why not invest in the tools that are going to make you want to write all the more?

One of the reasons I use Traveler's Notebook Refills for journaling is that all of my journals are the same size, which makes for easy storage. They are also very simple in design, which I find less distracting.

Image by David Schwarzenberg from Pixabay 

Use Journal Prompts

There are so many inspirational books and blogs that provide useful journaling prompts to help with writer's block. If you don't have a life that is brimming with events, drama and relationship issues, then journal prompts may be just what you are looking for to expand your thoughts and find new things to ponder about your self and your life.

I love journal prompts that encourage me to think about the way that I choose to live and how much time I dedicate to my physical health and mental wellbeing. I think that in a busy and modern world it is all too easy to get lost on a conveyor belt and forget to be mindful.

Why not create your own list of journaling prompts as a reference to keep in your Filofax or planner? You could even create a set of questions that you can ask yourself in order to help structure your journal entries.

For example:

  1. What happened to you today?
  2. Why did it happen?
  3. How did it make you feel?
  4. What will you do next?
  5. What have you learned from this experience?

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay 

Journaling Vs. Mind Dump

If you are becoming disillusioned with your journaling habit, due to your entries feeling repetitive and sounding more like a regurgitation of your day or the day to come, then you are probably confusing journaling with a mind dump.

A mind dump is basically a way of getting all of the rubbish out of your head. Many people use a "mind dump journal" to clear their head of mundane thoughts, worries or tasks so that they can get on with putting those tasks into action.

Image by athree23 from Pixabay 

I use my journal in this way quite a lot, and I wish that I didn't resort it to because it does make journaling feel repetitive and without purpose. I like to keep all of my journals, but so many of them are just full of daily activity records that are largely the same from day-to-day. There is not much in the way of profound thoughts or revelations, and I often dread the thought of anyone finding and reading my journals and realising that I am just a very dull and predictable person indeed.

There is nothing wrong with having a mind dump though. In fact, they are very useful tools, and I do recommend practicing a daily mind dump exercise, as it is a great way to start the day with a clear head and focused mind. A little more investment should be put into your actual journaling habit though, so it is important to distinguish the difference between the two.

A daily mind dump can easily be something that you dispose of at the end of a week. I can't really see why you would need to keep hold of mind dump notes. your journal, on the other hand, is very useful and interesting to look back on, as it can show you what you have learned and how far you have come.

The to-do lists section in your Filofax or planner is the perfect place to execute morning mind dumps, and perhaps make them more functional. In fact, bullet journaling is essentially an ongoing to-do list in which you tick off, put on hold, cancel out, or pass over tasks from one day to the next. If you have never heard of bullet journaling I highly recommend you to Google it!

Alternatively, a cheap jotter pad at the back of a planner can act as the perfect place to dump thoughts that don't really need much reflection.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay 

What Journaling Tips Would You Like To Share?

If you have any thoughts about my journaling tips, or if you have any of your own that you'd like to share, please do leave them in a comment. I love to read your comments and I always do my best to reply to them all.

Alternatively, if you have a blog post that you would like to share, leave your link and I will pop over and have a look!

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  1. Fabulous post. Thanks Zara! I’m not a good reflective journaller which could explain why I’m lying awake, scanning through Facebook at 3am!!!! Lucky I came across your post (via Philofaxy!). I’ll make a new journal section in my FF tomorrow.... and will start to use it!
    thanks ☺️

    1. Hi Samm,

      Thank you for your comment! I'm glad you were up browsing and happened to stumble across my post and enjoy reading it :) So pleased that it has inspired you. Good luck with your new journal section, its always fun to add a brand spanking new section to the planner, eh? I hope you manage to get some sleep - I am exactly the same, often browsing through things I shouldn't at 3am.


  2. A great post Zara. I journal, but in not as much detail as I should some days. Sometimes it's just bullet points about my days.
    If I forget to journal I struggle to remember I was doing in the last couple of days (old age!!) but I like to journal it gives me a lot of satisfaction.
    Take care and stay safe at this terrible time.

    1. Hi Steve, its great to hear from you! I'm glad to hear that you journal, I always wonder if there are many men who do? I've kept a journal since I was about 12. Sometimes like you, my entries are more like bullet points about my day, and other times they are more reflective or ranty depending on my mood :) I'm trying to encourage my niece to write about how she feels. She's 12 and suffers from epilepsy, lots of bullying at school, and now, of course, with the lockdown she is struggling with the isolation and homeschooling. I have bought her a very purple mini organiser for her thoughts, notes and drawings. Hope she gets into it. I hope that you and your family are well too, stay safe x

    2. Hi Zara.
      Yes we are ok at the moment, although feeling a little held back because of the lock down situation.

      I will take another read of your post and put more effort in to my journalling.

      Take care


Thanks for your comments and getting involved! :)