7 Best Daily Personal Journals and Notebooks for 2020
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7 Best Daily Personal Journals and Notebooks for 2020

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Are you looking to make positive changes in 2019? Most of us like to begin each new year with a few goals in mind that can enrich our lives. Unfortunately, for many of us, the motivation we feel in January begins to fizzle as time goes on, and we lose sight of those goals.

You may be surprised to hear it, but journal writing provides a simple way to stay on track and achieve success in different aspects of your life. To get started, all you need is a journal notebook and your favorite pen or pencil.

The best journal notebooks are ones that keep you motivated and encourage personal growth and positivity. In this article, I'll discuss my seven favorite journals and notebooks on the market. Each differs considerably, but all have useful attributes that can benefit journal writers at all experience levels.

Our Picks for Best Journal Notebooks

Don't have time to read the entire journal notebook review? Then check out this table for a quick review…

Best Journal to Build a Gratitude HabitBest Journal to Build a Gratitude HabitBest Journal to Build a Gratitude HabitThe 90-Day Gratitude JournalCLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best Daily Planner to Accomplish Your #1 Goal in 100 DaysBest Daily Planner to Accomplish Your #1 Goal in 100 DaysBest Daily Planner to Accomplish Your #1 Goal in 100 DaysThe Freedom JournalCLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best Multi-Purpose JournalBest Multi-Purpose JournalBest Multi-Purpose JournalA Moleskin JournalCLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best Overall Journal for MenBest Overall Journal for MenBest Overall Journal for MenBestSelf C​​​​​o. The SELF Journal – Daily PlannerCLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best Journal for WritingBest Journal for WritingBest Journal for WritingPoromo Leather Journal Writing NotebookCLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best Small-Sized JournalBest Small-Sized JournalBest Small-Sized JournalQ&A a Day: 5-Year JournalCLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best Quality JournalBest Quality JournalBest Quality JournalThe Wanderings Grande Refillable Travel NotebookCLICK HERE FOR PRICE

The Benefits of Journal Writing

At first, jotting down our thoughts, goals, and challenges to overcome may seem like a trivial endeavor. But studies have shown that journal writing is beneficial for our brains and overall well-being. Journal writing is a proven stress reducer, as the simple act of laying out our fears and perceived hurdles can free our minds from negative thoughts.

In that same vein, writing down our successes and achievements encourages positivity and fosters personal development. Many people find that putting their goals and aspirations on paper provides a more tangible, attainable goal when compared to simple thoughts, which are much easier to ignore than permanent ink.

(Side bar: If you're unsure about “what” to journal about, then here are 33 journaling ideas to get you started.)

Making Time for the Journaling Process

For many of us, having a set schedule is crucial to getting things done. Journal writing is no exception. You'll find it easier to write—and to remember to do so—if you adhere to a journal writing schedule. For instance, making time in the morning to lay out the day's agenda can make goals more attainable.

Conversely, you may find it easier to do your journal writing at the end of the day. As you lay out your daily accomplishments, it can give you a sense of pride, seeing tangible evidence of your successes of the day.

Finally, just as the choice of journal notebook is a highly personal one, so is your writing schedule. You can write daily, or less often if you find the idea of daily writing to be daunting.

Once you get into the habit of journal writing, the process will become easier.  You'll find that the habit becomes ingrained—part of your daily routine.

The right type of journal can help you foster discipline and be a stepping stone to other healthy habits that can improve your life.

What Should I Look for in a Journal?

Any notebook can be used as a journal. Getting specialized journals like the ones on this page are more about having guidance to prompt your daily writing.

Journaling is a personal endeavor. Some people prefer the freedom that comes from a blank journal but others need guidance or writing prompts.

Many people find it difficult to achieve the discipline needed to journal regularly. So those who have trouble focusing or remembering to write may find success with pre-formatted journals, rather than blank notebooks.

Even a simple motivational quote can provide an extra boost of inspiration and help you develop a habit of writing. Some journal notebooks feature quotes followed by a section where you can respond to the daily message, and this is a feature I find immensely beneficial.

Above all, you'll find the most success with a journal notebook that inspires you and nudges you towards writing down your thoughts every day. As you sort through the plethora of available notebook options in order to find the perfect tool for your needs, you'll discover that journal notebooks come in every color of the rainbow and every size imaginable.

Types and Features of Journal Notebooks

Journals and notebooks come in myriad sizes to meet a variety of user needs.

Some are small enough to fit in your pocket, while others are the perfect size for a backpack or purse.

If portability isn't a concern, you can opt for a large, hardcover journal. These can be constructed of letter-size paper, about 8 by 11 inches, and some are even larger.

Journals can be constructed with soft or hard covers, and are available in a variety of page counts, but most journal notebooks average around 200 pages.

Many journals are outfitted with integrated elastic straps or fabric ribbons you can use to mark your page, giving you quick access without rifling through the notebook.

Keep your ideal journal features and goals in mind as you search for the perfect one. The following seven journals are very different, but each one is designed to improve your life and lead you toward positive life choices and healthy habits.

1.  The 90-Day Gratitude Journal

Best for: Building a Gratitude Habit

The 90-Day Gratitude Journal

Think you can't spare more than a few minutes writing every day? The 90-Day Gratitude Journal may be perfect for your needs. In addition to convenience, this is designed to help you cultivate gratitude and happiness. As you write down what you're thankful for, you'll create a more positive mindset.

When you use The 90-Day Gratitude Journal, you don't need to worry about coming up with ideas. The writing prompts featured in this journal notebook are based on the scientific principles of psychology and are clearly explained.

Each morning, you're encouraged to write down three things that you are grateful for in life.

The first question is simple: “I am grateful for ____ because _____”

The second question helps you create a positive state of mind for the day ahead of you: “What am I looking forward to today (or tomorrow)?”

Finally, the third prompt is an open question that changes on each of the 90 days. This one will ask you to think carefully about a specific aspect of your life and look for a way to be grateful.

The 90-Day Gratitude Journal is 119 pages, with an individual page for each day. That way, you can journal as much (or as little) for what you're grateful for in life.

PROS

  • Focuses on positivity. The 90-Day Gratitude Journal can become your personal tool for injecting a dose of positivity into your day. You can use it to focus your attention on what is going right in your life instead of focusing on everything that's going wrong. You can use it to pause for a few minutes every day and truly appreciate all that you have.
  • It's a habit that only takes five minutes to complete
  • Motivates you without excessive text or strict rules for personal writing
  • Is less expensive than many similar journals.

CONS

  • Format is somewhat rigid, leaving little room for spontaneous journal writing

2. The Freedom Journal

Best for: Accomplishing your #1 Goal in 100 Days

The Freedom Journal

If you struggle with productivity and time management, then The Freedom Journal may be the ideal tool for your needs. You can get your life back on track using the simple and clear prompts laid out in The Freedom Journal. Perfect for anyone with a single large goal they would like to accomplish in the immediate future, The Freedom Journal doubles as a self-help book.

Whether you're working for a promotion, seeking to achieve greater financial stability, or want to improve your social life, The Freedom Journal can help you accomplish your goals. It comes with a money-back guarantee and guides you towards your goal from day one while helping you learn how to avoid distractions and stop procrastinating.

The principles of The Freedom Journal are based on science, and you'll learn how to set and achieve goals according to the SMART system. Using the prompts laid out in this journal notebook, you're encouraged to set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. The SMART system is designed to put your goals in a simple, digestible format that seems almost easy rather than daunting.

Along with writing prompts, advice, and motivational text designed to lead you to your number one goal, The Freedom Journal also includes 10-day sprints so that you can accomplish micro-goals. You'll also be able to identify problem areas in your life that may need adjustment thanks to the journal's quarterly reviews.

It sounds like a no-brainer, but writing down your goals is the first step towards accomplishing them. You can think more deeply and analyze your moves in an objective manner with help from The Freedom Journal. This journal notebook measures 10 x 7 x 1 inches, and you can use the attached elastic straps to mark your place.

In addition, The Freedom Journal is perfect for your modern, mobile lifestyle. Every journal purchased comes with access to a private Facebook group where you can connect with your peers. An audiobook, mobile app, and PDF are also included with The Freedom Journal.

PROS

  • Hardcover, and non-dated, so you can begin it at any time
  • Well-constructed and durable
  • Encourages accountability and focus
  • Keeps you motivated and helps you set a realistic time-frame for achievement
  • Simple layout, with separate sections for day and night goal review
  • Smartphone integration with the corresponding app and fillable PDF

CONS

  • Contains a large amount of text as opposed to blank writing pages
  • Rigid format
  • Has a $39 price tag, which is on the high end for journal notebooks

3. Moleskin Journal

Best for: Drawing, jotting down notes, and writing down your thoughts

A Moleskin Journal

If your ideal journal is one that gives you free rein and flexibility, then the classic Moleskine Journal Notebook is a no-brainer. No matter the subject matter or length of your written reflection, this journal notebook can accommodate you. Consisting of 240 blank, lined pages and measuring 8.2 x 5.2 x 1 inches, the large Moleskine Journal Notebook is conveniently portable.

The Moleskine Journal Notebook helps you foster your creativity in a way that many other journal notebooks cannot. The notebook's blank pages are an open canvas where you can free write, draw, make goal lists, and reflect on disappointments—the choice is yours!

The Moleskine company boasts a rich history, crafting durable and attractive notebooks since 1997. The quintessential “little black book,” today's Moleskines are designed with a timeless look, harking back centuries, which makes these journal notebooks a staple among writers from all walks of life, from novelists to journal writers.

A top seller, the basic Large Ruled Moleskine Journal Notebook features a cardboard-bound cover with rounded corners, an elastic closure, an attached dark violet ribbon bookmark, and an expandable inner pocket. The notebook's thick, acid-free pages stand up to most types of ink with no bleeding through.

PROS

  • Well-constructed with a classic look
  • Fits easily in your purse, messenger bag, or even large pockets
  • Allows for writing freedom and flexibility
  • Warm page color is relaxing and inviting

CONS

  • Cover is cardboard bound and less durable than its hardcover counterparts
  • Not designed for specific goal-setting

4. BestSelf Co. The SELF Journal – Daily Planner

Best for: Journal for men

BestSelf Co. The SELF Journal – Daily Planner

This is the best overall journal for men. It offers the perfect balance between allowing users to keep track of goals, time management, and gratitude. This journal offers a 13-week program that is backed by science and developed by entrepreneurs and is ideal for men who aren’t quite sure where to start when it comes to journaling or have a hard time sticking with the practice.

The scientific structure of this journal includes space to record your morning and evening gratitude, your goals for the day, a 6am-9pm hourly schedule for each day and lots of clean space for notes.

This journal is a great tool for success because it presents men with an outline to simply fill in the details. It is especially helpful for those who are looking to improve their accountability, track their progress toward both short and long-term goals, and who want to see their results.

This journal offers spreads that are daily, weekly, and monthly to help men organize their lives with as much detail as needed. And, because this journal is not dated, it isn’t necessary to write in it every day. The hard cover is wrapped in canvas and includes thick paper that’s durable enough for fountain pens. It also comes with a durable fabric bookmark.

Pros:

  • Undated, so can be started at any time
  • Layout is backed by science to be effective in helping people achieve goals
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Created to be used for 13 weeks, which is the amount of time one typically needs to achieve a goal–but some users may need longer, depending on the goal
  • Some find this journal to be geared toward business goals only
  • The lines in this journal are too light for some to see clearly

5. Poromo Leather Journal Writing Notebook

Best for: Writing in a nice, high-end journal

Poromo Leather Journal Writing Notebook

This is the best journal for writing, as it offers the cleanest space for users to write as much as they want. It can also be used for drawing, traveling, and offers extra features to help users stay on top of their busy lives.

This stylish journal is helpful for many writing purposes, whether you want to record your thoughts and goals or you want to keep track of your appointments. It is made with high-quality, distressed cowhide leather, and includes a leather strap so users can keep it tightly closed, ensuring your important information is secure.

This journal is refillable, so you can keep the high-quality cover and add in pages as you need them. It also lays flat, allowing users to have more space on each page to write, draw, or record any type of information. The pages are 6” by 9” and the cover includes an inside pocket and card slot. It initially comes with 100 sheets of plain, white paper, which can be added to at any time.

When ordering this journal, users also receive a pen and a pen holder. Because the securing strap is so long, users are able to keep multiple books of paper in this journal at a time.

PROS

  • The journal can be refilled with any type of paper of your choosing
  • The distressed leather improves with age
  • Great notebook for people who are looking for something simple to really personalize themselves

CONS

  • The pad of paper that comes with the journal is unlined, which does not suit everybody
  • Some find it cumbersome to have to unwrap the securing strap
  • Until you have used this journal enough to break in the leather, it can be stiff and refuse to stay flat while in use

6. Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal

Best for: Small-sized journaling for one-minute

Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal

This is a small journal, but it is best to use when it comes to engaging users to write every day. The journal actually spans a five year period, so users can watch their progress in a variety of areas in their lives advance with time.

The Q&A journal offers you a specific question about your life to answer each day for a year. Once the year is over, you return to the beginning of the book and start over. After five years, you’re left with a five-year-long study of your life and growth, and a written reminder of how you were able to overcome challenges in the past.

This journal offers a thought-provoking question to answer every day of the year that often leads to greater self-awareness. This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to track your self-development through the years and see how far you’ve come.

This journal only requires users to write 2-3 sentences per day, so it isn’t a huge time commitment. Users find it to be a convenient size and unique in the sense that it makes you think about things that you possibly wouldn’t normally consider. Users find these thought-provoking questions to be a great way to engage in some self-reflection every day.

PROS

  • Users love having the long-term memento of their lives
  • Small enough to carry around in your bag
  • Asks unique questions that make users think

CONS

  • Some find that the binding is a bit tight
  • There is the possibility that this journal can bring back bad memories in the future
  • Not a lot of space to write aside from answering the questions

7. The Wanderings Grande Refillable Travel Notebook

Best for: Quality journal that looks great!

The Wanderings Grande Refillable Travel Notebook

This full grain 100% leather journal is ideal for those who are looking for the best quality journal. It looks and smells beautiful in addition to its authentic and expected leather feel. This notebook can be purchased once and used for a lifetime due to its durability and the available refill paper that can be purchased online.

The blank, unlined paper is 120 gsm, making it thick enough to handle fountain pens or paint without bleeding. It comes with 90 double sided sheets, giving you 180 pages to begin journaling with. However, these journals are very customizable, as there are refills available that are blank, lined, and dotted.

Unlike other notebooks or journals, these won’t fall apart, as they are carefully made to ensure quality. They are available in both small and medium sizes, so users can choose whichever size fits their journaling lifestyle best. These journals are described as being classic, antique vintage, and rustic, making them something that will be in style for years to come.

This is a great high-quality notebook to be used for a variety of reasons, including recording your personal thoughts, writing down ideas, drawing, planning, creating to-do lists, writing poetry, or as a blank slate for anything else you could want.

PROS:

  • The dark brown genuine full-grain leather ages just like high-quality leather should
  • Comes with an elastic closure that doubles as a pen holder
  • Paper can withhold ink-heavy pens

CONS:

  • Expensive
  • Some find the leather to be too flimsy
  • Paper is too thick for some users

Get Started with Journaling Today!

There you have it — seven journals that are perfect for building a powerful habit. We did our best to provide you with specific “categories” you can use to purchase the journal that's right for you.

So, if you're stuck with “what” to get, then think about how you'd use the journal. If you're someone who needs specific prompts, then I'd recommend checking out The 90-Day Gratitude Journal, The Freedom Journal or Q&A a Day journal. But if you like the freedom and flexibility to write about whatever is on your mind, then you should consider the Moleskin Journal or The Wanderings Grande Refillable Travel Notebook.

Whatever you pick, I strongly urge to do some type of journaling every day — you won't regret building this powerful habit!

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