One day, hundreds of years in the future, historians will be so happy they have this massive treasure trove of handwritten journals telling about what it was like to actually live through these weird-ass times. I think about that a lot as I fill journal after journal (I'm working on #27 since I started numbering them four years ago). I feel like I owe it to those future historians to make my journals interesting.
Also, I owe it to myself, since I'm the one looking at them every day. I want them to be accurate reflections of me and my life, my world and the world at large.
And I also want them to work better on a day to day basis for all the things I need them to do. My journal is a mix of a diary, a planner, a smashbook, and a general notebook, and here's my favorite ways to merge those things together.
1. Add in pages
No matter what notebook I'm using, there's never enough pages and never enough variety of paper, so when I start a new book, one of the first things I do is just randomly place other pages throughout the ones that come with it.
Blank pages, grid pages, colored pages. Pages cut from magazines and paper bags from shops (and sometimes plastic bags, if they have cool patterns or logos or something). Pages from notepads and scratch pads--or the whole pile of random small papers I brought home from my grandparents' house after my grandpa died. Printable pages and journaling prompts.
I really like making pages out of the insides of security envelopes, a lot of them have really pretty patterns in them that don't get appreciated enough, and they make great dividers or showcase pages.
I just slot them in, and then when I get to the part of the book where they are waiting, I tape them into the spine and plan my daily pages to include them.
2. Keep all your scraps
Anything moderately flat can go into a journal. Articles from magazines or newspapers, or printed from websites--bonus if they're annotated so future-you knows why you kept them. Photos. Fliers and brochures of things you've done or want to do. Scraps of wrapping paper, and cards from every gift you get. Packaging from new foods you try and favorite and on items. Things you find in the street that look cool. Receipts. Pages from books. Handouts. Letters people send you. Letters you write to yourself. Ticket stubs. Bits of ribbons or string or similar. The first fall leaves and the first spring flowers.
Don't worry about making fancy scrapbook pages out of them, just stick them in next to that day's pages, or between them, so they stay in context. Anything made of paper or otherwise page-like, tape it into the binding and make another page out of it!
And if you really want to get fancy, these are the things that are perfect for making fold-outs, or for putting in taped-in envelopes so they can be taken out and put back. If you feel like it, you can make collages, or you can journal on their backs and blank parts, or you can make them interactive and exploratory for looking back on later.
3. Post it notes
Anything you need to remember that can't risk being lost as you move past those pages, put on a post it note. Then, periodically clean them off your desk or wall or wherever you keep them, and fill a page in your journal. Six regular-sized ones will fit on a composition-book page, more if you overlap them.
If you keep a stack of post its with you, you can note things that you want in your journal when you don't have time or access to the journal itself. Write your shopping lists on them, and you can stick it in on that day's page. Keep reminders and inspirational quotes and the first hints of new stories or memories on them, then collect them into pages in hour journal.
It's the perfect way to fill a page when you don't feel like diarizing!
4. Something in the back
There's always stray stuff that you don't want permanently stuck in yet (or at all), but that needs to be kept on hand, and the back cover is perfect for that.
I get the snack boxes from Graze.com, so I've always got these strips of plastic that hold the boxes closed during mailing around, and usually I tape one down the middle-inside of the back cover so it makes a strap to hold stuff in place.
I've also used envelopes from bills, small paper bags from shopping, ziplock sandwich bags, card stock cut into folder pockets...basically whatever is on hand, just to make a place to catch and hold stuff in the back of the book. Sometimes in the front, I'll use a big binder clip, and then move that stuff to the back and / or the next book as I close one and open another. The point is to have ways built in to keep stuff from falling all over the place when you're handling your journal.
What I've been doing lately, is I pick a color to serve as a theme for each day, then match the washi, markers, any random deco stuff, and if I have it, pen to that color. I do the daily docket in that color, then any dairy or journaling pages that belong to that day, I'll decorate the margins with the matching marker and / or write in the matching pen. It helps when I'm looking back to see what pages belong to what day, it makes everything prettier and more interesting, and it unifies the pages while saving my washi stash from having to be on all the many, many pages I fill in a week!
Plus, it can be used symbolically to convey whatever my mood was that day, or what holiday we're on, or what season--stuff that doesn't need to be put in words but still wouldn't hurt to be recorded in a journal! My summer pages tend to be brighter colors, while my winter ones tend to be more subdued or on the cooler end of the spectrum. And there's a lot of green and teal because those are my fav colors!
How do you make your journal work better for how you use it? Share in the comments or come talk to me @pirategirljack on Twitter!