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3 Best Journal Notebooks (Our Review for 2017)

Are you looking to make positive changes in 2017? 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. 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 three favorite journal 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 review? Then check out this table for a quick review...

Journal

Wins For ...

Our Rating

Achieving ONE Important Goal

Expressing Gratitude & Appreciation

Flexible, Open-Ended Writing

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 growth. 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.

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 greatness. 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

Journal 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.

Journal notebooks 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 journal notebooks 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.

The Three Best Journal Notebooks

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

1. Five-Minute Journal

A Happier You in Five Minutes a Day

Think you can't spare more than a few minutes writing every day? The Five-Minute Journal may be perfect for your needs. In addition to convenience, the Five-Minute Journal is designed to help you cultivate gratitude and happiness. As you write down your thoughts and goals, you'll see a clear picture of your accomplishments, grounding and centering you in a more positive mindset.

When you use The Five-Minute 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 you are grateful for, as well as what can be achieved to make the day great. In the evening, you can reflect on those positive morning goals by recording the amazing things that happened throughout the day. To give you a boost as you wind down, the journal poses a final prompt question: “How could I have made today better?”

The Five-Minute Journal consists of 268 pages, which are thick enough that even heavy inks won't bleed through. With a high-quality hard cover that looks and feels durable and attractive, this journal notebook is equipped with an attached ribbon bookmark for easy access to the day's page. In addition, each page is headed by an inspirational quote that you can reflect on as you go about your day.

PROS

CONS

  • Has a durable hard cover
  • Portable and lightweight, measuring 8.7 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Morning and evening sections are clearly labeled and divided
  • It really does take only five minutes every day
  • Motivates you without excessive text or strict rules for personal writing
  • Has a nominal price tag of $22.95
  • Format is somewhat rigid, leaving little room for spontaneous journal writing

2. The Freedom Journal

Best Daily Planner to Accomplish Your #1 Goal in 100 Days

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 say no to procrastination.

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

CONS

  • Hard cover, 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 corresponding app and fillable PDF
  • 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

If your ideal journal is one that gives you free reign 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

CONS

  • 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
  • Cover is cardboard bound and less durable than its hardcover counterparts
  • Not designed for specific goal-setting
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Our Picks for Best Journal Notebooks



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