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Journals are a great source of information for you as you jot down your daily happenings and thoughts. Lists are a great way to compile details about your life, interests, goals, and your dreams. Some lists in your journal can help you hold on to memories from the past. Some lists that you write can help you learn from life lessons in the past and present. Other lists you create can help you grow. And of course, lists can help you plan your future.
What are some lists to write in your journal?
The following 25 prompts and list ideas are just the beginning of what you can record as you journal each day! Let pull up a chair, get out our favorite pens (you know you have one), and get that genius creativity flowing!
25 Writing Prompts & Lists to Write in Your Journal
1. Express Gratitude
Gratitude is a common theme when journaling. It’s helpful to write down all that you are thankful for. When you are feeling low, you can read over this list and remind yourself just how blessed your life is.
Examples of Gratitude Lists for Journaling:
- 5 Things I am grateful for today/this week/this month
- 5 Things I am grateful for about my health, body, and mind
- 5 People I am grateful for and why
Many types of gratitude lists can be re-used on a regular basis.
2. Your To-Do List
Make a list in your journal of upcoming tasks or events that you need to remember. You can jot down these lists weekly, daily, or even monthly and mark off the tasks as you complete them. It can be as short or as long as you want.
Your to-do list can include chores as well as the more leisurely things in life. Maybe you want to clean out the garage or try a new craft. Reflect at the end of each week and pat yourself on the back for the things you accomplished. It’s always a wonderful feeling when you can check off a task on your to-do list.
3. Create Short Term Goals
Goals are different than tasks. Write down your short term goals for the week or month. They can be independent small goals or small goals that are a step to a big goal.
Start your week by journaling about what you hope to achieve in the next 5-7 days. A college student may shoot for an “A” on an upcoming exam. A parent may want to work on establishing a bedtime routine for her toddler. Anyone working on getting healthier can jot down a list of exercise goals for the week. Everyone should have an abundance of short term goals, writing them down and crossing them out is an awesome way to make sure you meet them!
4. Write Your Long Term Goals and Dreams
What are things you hope to achieve in the next year? The next five years? In a job interview, those questions are awkward. But in your own space with the freedom to dream as big and wild as you want, you can truly create a list of amazing long-term goals. Use this list as a starting point for future journaling tasks, such as how you plan to achieve each and to progress updates. You can also backtrack and turn these goals into smaller steps and short term goals to keep track of as well.
5. Journal Reflections on Past Goals
It’s important to be aware of your progress. Don’t just make lists about what you want to achieve, give yourself a handwritten congratulations whenever you do! This list can also include how you feel after achieving something. Use this list as a reflection if you are struggling with different aspirations.
6. List of Favorite Things
It’s always fun to make lists of our favorite things. Tap in to your inner child and write out your favorite colors, favorite song, favorite movie, favorite food, etc. Creating these lists are often easy breezy, and it counts as journaling time. Make a list of all your favorites, so you can remind yourself of what brings you joy. This is also helpful when people ask “What do you want for Christmas?” and your brain goes blank. Or maybe it will spark an urge to rewatch a movie you used to love or to listen to a band’s newest album.
7. Create a “Wish List” of Books to Read
How many times have you heard someone talking about their latest beach read or post a recommendation on social media and thought, “Oh, I want to read that!” Everyone has a handful (or way more) of books they’d like to read. Make a list of these in your journal, so you don’t miss out on any amazing worlds that might otherwise be forgotten! See a book brag when your journal isn’t around? Make a note on your phone and add it during your next journal session. And don’t forget to add a quick note about WHY you want to read that book!
8. Create a Dream Travel List
Do a little daydreaming and make a layout of all the places you would love to travel! There are so many interesting places to go and beautiful sites to see. Write down where you would like to have an adventure. This can lead to a plethora of sub-list: what you’d pack, where you would eat and visit in a particular city, what questions you have that need to be answered when you start booking the trip. Don’t forget to include day trip destinations!
9. Journal about Past Travel Adventures
Just as planning future travel is fun, journaling about past trips is good for your soul. From this list, you can create more entries about each destination. What did you love? What would you skip next time? What foods were amazing? What do you wish you had packed? What did you pack that ended up saving the day at some point? What did you learn on the trip about yourself, your travel companions or the destination? Write down your favorite memories, so you can later reflect on them and laugh or smile or cry and someday share those stories with someone else.
10. Write Down a List of Hobbies to Try
There are likely things you have wanted to try but haven’t gotten around to doing them. Create a list so you can find some new hobbies! Have you thought about trying photography? Would you like to take a painting class? Is there a new cuisine you would like to learn to cook? Do you want to learn a new language? As you try each hobby, make a new journal entry about your first time. Did you enjoy it? What didn’t you like? Is it something you would like to continue doing? Where can you learn more about it or do it more often? Did you learn about something new that you are going to add to your first list?
11. Create Mini Book Reports on Books You’ve Read
Making a list of the books you have read allows you to see your favorite authors or genres. This can spark new journal entries as book reviews or mini book reports that include the who, what, when, where of the book to refresh your memories and reignite the emotions the book created for you. It can also be beneficial in helping you find more even books to enjoy.
12. List of Motivational and Inspirational Quotes
There are times that we all need to read something to inspire us to do better. Maybe you are having a down week and need something powerful to pick you up. Your favorite motivational quotes compiled in your journal will help with this! Refer to this list as often as you need to be inspired to keep winning at life.
13. Create a Whole Journal with Lists of Family Traditions and History
Do you and your partner/kids have things you enjoy doing often? What are the key moments in your family history? Creating a list of your key family moments and a list of your favorite traditions compliment each other well. Journal about each of them as well, including all the special bits and pieces and why they are special. This will not only make for memories you’ll never forget, but you’ll also be able to share those traditions and stories throughout generations to come.
14. Tracking Your Habits
Habit trackers are super popular right now. They are commonly found in planners, but you can also use your journal to track the habits you want to incorporate into every day or week. Your master list of habits ensures you get everything done as often as you should and can even reinforce the creation of healthy habits. Be mindful to keep your expectations realistic and manageable for what habits you want to incorporate into your day or week. Set yourself up for success!
Fun ways to create a habit tracker in your journal
It doesn’t have to be complicated. Draw 8 water drops for 8 glasses of water and color them in for every glass you drank that day. Draw one of those thermometers like they use for fundraisers to track money raised but fill yours with one line or section for say every 20 mins you read that week to the reach the top.
15. Your Daily Routine and Schedule
Spend a day or two or five making a list of all your daily habits and tasks. This is a great way to see where you are spending your time, what patterns emerge, what’s working and what needs to be changed. You can use this knowledge to cut back on tasks that don’t spark joy or to find time that could be better used doing something else.
Did this journal prompt lead you to wanting a major overhaul on time management?
If your daily routine isn’t working for you, check out our post on Time Management Tips for WAHM. Several of the tips and tricks work for everyone.
16. Write Down Things That Make You Happy
This is one of the most fun lists to write in a journal! Write down all the things that make you happy. What makes you smile? What little things bring you joy? Maybe it’s a yummy cupcake, a specific movie or song, or your favorite hoodie from a touristy beach shop. This list will help you when you are feeling sad or just blaahhh. You can look at it and find what sparks joy so you can brighten your mood.
17. Reflect on Things That Make You Sad
This can be one of the most daunting lists to write in a journal. But it can also be super healing. Realizing what makes you feel blue or puts you in a funk can help you avoid those things. And when you can’t avoid them, it helps you identify them and prepare or recover quickly. This list is all about the things that bring about feelings from blah to blue. You can also break this out to another series of journal entries about different triggers or challenges and how to avoid them, navigate them, recover from them.
18. Activities for Rainy Day Fun
This helpful list becomes a lengthy bag of tricks to pull out when it rains … I’d like to snow but it’s South Carolina. If it snows, we’re playing outside for the three seconds it’s on the ground. Let’s say for when it rains, when it’s icy, or when it’s one hundred and holy hell degrees outside. When the kids are bouncing off the walls or someone says “What do YOU want to do?” and your brain is mush, this is a great list to pull out. And it’s easier to create in your quiet journaling time when your ideas are flowing. Create a sublist for emergencies when the power goes out and you need to keep the kids calm and occupied.
19. Self-Care Ideas
Let go of the “I don’t have time for this” or “Wouldn’t that be nice?” thoughts that may pop up when you hear or think about self-care. What will you do when you DO make time for you? That’s a mouthful of a sentence. But it may be one of the most important. How do you like to relax? What is super effective at helping you de-stress? When you have 20 minutes to breathe, what can you do? If you had an entire day or even an entire weekend to just chill and pamper yourself, how would you spend it? Write. This. List. Refer to it often when you need some “me” time. Some starter ideas: hot bath, mani/pedi (done by someone else), spend a day by the water with a great book and your journal. Now it’s your turn.
Take care of you!
20. Thought Doodles
Doodle and daydream. Let the ideas flow. Maybe it turns into a mind map of a project. Maybe it becomes a drawing of your dream house. Maybe it becomes a picture you decide to paint on canvas later. Maybe it becomes a visual stream of consciousness in words and pictures. Another opportunity to tap into your inner child and just draw and doodle whatever strikes your fancy or pops in your head. You may be surprised about where your thought doodles lead you!
21. “One Day” Dreams
Dream BIG! Journals are private and your safe place to dream as big and wild as you possibly can. “One day, I’d love to …” Don’t worry about the how’s or when’s, just write down the wild, wonderful, giant dreams in your heart and soul. What would you do if there you no limits, no obstacles, no budget or time or distance limits? Write it all down!
22. Daily Whatever Writing
Flex your creative writing muscles by committing to journaling for 20 minutes each and every day. You can pick from any of your lists to make in your journal. Or just free flowing thoughts. Just write the first thing that pops in your head, even if it’s “I have no idea what to write about, but I committed to myself to write 20 minutes a day. So here we go.” This is especially helpful if creativity is a big part of your job. It helps get those creative juices flowing. This type of journaling works best if you do it in the morning, at the start of your day, when your brain isn’t full of all the coulda, woulda, shoulda, what had happened was, and such from the day.
23. Create a List of Affirmations
Positive affirmations are another popular topic these days. Affirmations are great for boosting your confidence, giving yourself a pep talk, building up your positive energy.
Examples of Positive Affirmations
I am grateful for my life and everything in it.
I forgive and release all that has ever taken place, even if the event was traumatic.
I love my body. I love my hair.
I am strong and brave.
I am building an empire that will bless my life and many others.
24. Answer a Question as a Family
One of my favorite lists to make in a journal is questions and answers for or with my kids. Choose a question that each person in your family can answer and record their answers. They can be fun to look back on and see how everyone’s answers have changed over time and as they grow.
Family prompts can lead to quality conversations with your kids
These questions and lists can lead to fabulous family conversations. It can be a regularly scheduled question that you ask and answer daily, weekly, monthly. Or it can be a “one off” question where you ask different questions each day, week, or month. Keeping communication open and flowing with your children, and even your spouse, can be hard but is so, so important.
25. Funny Jokes You’ve Heard
Knock, knock! Who’s there? Hatch! Hatch, who? God bless you!
This is a fun list to write in your journal. Jot down the funny, smart, crazy jokes you hear throughout the years. Include inside jokes you have with certain people, as they are sure to bring back humorous memories too. This journal list is not necessarily a “sit down and write it all now” list. It’s more of a running list to build a collection in one place when you need a laugh.
Benefits of Writing Lists in Your Journal
Writing, maintaining, rewriting lists is a really productive and powerful strategy for journal writing. Some can be done in one sitting. Some you will add to here and there. The act of writing many of these list will unleash your thoughts, emotions, creativity, and dreams. Reading these lists in your journals can help you identify patterns, interests, wants and needs, blessings, milestones, and growth. Put in the time to write freely and openly. Take the time to read and reflect.
Ready, Set, Write!
Lists are a great way to collect details and information, but also an amazing place for reflection. Print, bookmark, share this list of lists to help keep your pen moving and your pages full. Have fun creating these 25 lists!