Like all stationery addicts I love a good list. When I write stuff down in numbers or bullets or bullets that are formatted as stars or ticks it makes me feel calm and in control. But it wasn’t always like that. A few years back, I was in a list funk that even the prettiest notebooks could not lift me out of. And as a J-type it bothered me.
I still got the initial rush of getting everything down in one place. But the sense of serenity this gave me would soon be shattered when I checked back and realised that the majority of my to dos remained undone. It was disheartening. I needed a way to get my list-writing mojo back. Then I discovered list journals.
The right type of list
Before I started list journalling, I was writing only one type of list. I’d do it in different forms of course, shopping list, life-admin list, but the items were all the same, chores and reminders. Stuff I usually forgot or ignored because I’d rather not do it. Sad little things like take the bins out; book the car in for its MOT; switch energy provider.
I still have these lists of course, I need them to keep me accountable. Plus I’m still paying way too much for my electricity. But now I also have the mindful, happy, positive lists that help to balance them out. Through my list journals, I’m writing the right kinds of lists, the lists that keep me motivated and inspired. I’ve still not ticked everything off, but with lists like these, that’s all part of the fun.
You won’t be surprised that I have lots of list journals. But rather than list them all (see what I did there), I’m going to share three of my favourites.
The 52 lists project
Moorea Seal was inspired to start this project off the back of a blog post she wrote a couple of years back. Since then, it’s grown into a whole community. You might have come across the 52lists hashtag on Insta – check it out if not. The lists were created with self-discovery and self-reflection in mind. They’re categorised as winter, spring, summer, and autumn and each is influenced by the season. List one, winter, is geared towards new year resolutions for example. Each list is assigned two pages. And at the end there is a ‘take action’ box, which helps you make the list work for you in terms of looking forwards as well as back.
The journal itself is beautifully designed and illustrated. The pages are thick, no need to worry about show through. And there’s a shiny ribbon marker that perfectly complements the gold foil accent on the front cover. It almost feels too good to write in. If writing direct into pretty notebooks is something you struggle with, you might want to read my previous post ‘Once more with pen’ for a nostalgic solution. I’d encourage you to take the plunge and just go for it, though. It’s all part of the self exploration process. Over to Moorea who explained that the production value is intentional. “Your words are meaningful, and I hope you feel that every time you pick up your 52 lists project” she posted on Insta back in January.
The sub-heading for the journal is ‘a year of weekly journalling inspiration’ but though the lists are numbered you can dip in and out. And there is a contents section at the front so you can choose which you’re most in the mood for and go straight to it. Because I’m a rule follower – there’s that pesky J preference again! – I started in the first week of the year and am due to complete list 20 on Sunday: List the things that make your spirit feel free. I’m looking forward to seeing what others in the community share.
There’s also a 52 Lists for Happiness Journal, now, too. I’ll be kicking off 2018 with this and have heard lots of good things about it.
My Future Listography
This was a Christmas present and there’s a whole range of them for books and films and things. And an app and a game that I hadn’t even realised existed before I started this post. Exciting! It feels more workbook than journal, bucket list rather than self-exploration tool, but this means it’s nice to keep adding to over time. And fun to look back on. Don’t forget to date the entries if you’re interested in seeing how you’re responses change and progress.
There’s a really nice introduction that talks about wish fulfilment. This preempts some of the vision board type thinking that is everywhere right now.
Again, the paper is lovely and thick – it lends itself particularly well to fountain pen. There is one page for each list apart from the final one – ‘list the things you’d like to experience before you die’ which has three pages. And at the back there are a few lined pages with no heading if you want to come up with your own list ideas.
Of all the list journals this is the one I feel most free to open at random as there is no sense of order or categorisation. This means I’m less disciplined in terms of filling it in regularly, but it’s also one that I’d take off the shelves and chat through when friends are over, which is why it’s one of my favourites.
Breathe Special List Journal
This is my latest list journal, a special from the makers of Breathe magazine. It’s split into five sections, Escape, Living, Mindfulness, Creativity and Wellbeing – just like the magazine itself. There’s no contents page like there is with the other two. I quite like this as it means each page turn holds a discovery and it encourages you to interact with it more. You can’t just scan through and think ‘yes, I’ll do that list later’ you have to actually get involved straight away, which can only be a good thing.
And while we’re on the subject of good things, the pastel palette is calming and the illustrated pages are pretty enough to use for card making. Another point of differentiation (and justification for me having three on the go at once!) is that this list journal is all about customisation. The opening pages encourage you to paste in pictures or ticket stubs, to draw and to doodle. And some of the pages are blank especially for this purpose.
As with the Listography journal there is no restriction on when and where to start. So if you fall off the list writing wagon for a week or two it doesn’t matter you can plunge right back in and no accusataory gaps. The space allocated for each prompt differs and to be honest, some, like people I admire, are worth their own page. But this is a minor quibble. And on the plus side means that you probably don’t need to set aside heaps of time to complete a single entry as I’d naturally do with the others.
If you’re looking for a list journal that also functions as a sort of scrapbook, then this is the one I’d recommend.
So many lists, so many journals…