Notebook vs. Journal
Is there a difference between a notebook and a journal?
I think of a journal as a chronological series of entries. My planner, which I utilize every day to keep track of tasks, enter appointments and take notes, is chronological. The journal starts with the beginning of the year and concludes at the end.
On the other hand, I see a notebook as a collection of information. It can be out-of-order, random and not follow any pattern of organization, but it can also be organized by categories of information, such as quotes, sketches and brainstorming. I also utilize a notebook on a daily basis to work out problems and record information that may or may not eventually make it into my planner. The notebook I am currently using is a pocket size Moleskine, which fits perfectly into the back pocket of my jeans.
Active Notebooks and Journals
I have been keeping notes and records for various purposes for several years. I posted a picture last year on Instagram of my five active books. While some of these have since been filled and replaced, I still maintain activity in these five areas.
- Yearly planner. For several years I used pre-formatted planners, but transitioned to using Moleskine notebooks in 2012. I fill one of these each year. Typically, I keep a monthly calendar at the front and then use a two-page spread for each week. On these two-pages I enter more detailed information about appointments, notes from meetings and a task list.
- Bible writing project. Years ago I read about a couple of individuals who wrote out the entire Bible by hand. Initially I was intimidated by writing out approximately 750,000 words, so I decided to copy thirty Psalms in thirty days. It was only later that I decided to attempt the entire Bible. At the time of this writing, I am finishing Ezekiel and only have Isaiah remaining (I wrote out the books in a non-traditional order). I started my Bible project in 2014, with the daily goal of ten verses per day, which I have generally exceeded.
- Music journal. I have been playing the piano since the age of six and providing music for church since I was in eighth grade. However, it was not until 2001 that I started a log to chronicle each time that I played. I try to record the date, location, songs and other artists.
- Daily notes. The idea of keeping a small notebook to record events, ideas, sketches and whatever comes along is not new. Rather than using random scrap paper to jot out ideas or lists of projects, I decided in 2001 to keep random notes in a book. As mentioned above, my notebook fits easily in my pocket, and I take it everywhere. Others have called these types of notebooks field notes, commonplace books and everyday carry books.
- Sermon sketchnoting. Sketchnoting is a visual type of note taking that combines visual elements as well as text organized in a variety of ways. Studies have demonstrated that adding visuals to notes – even if rudimentary – help with memorizing the information presented. I started taking sketchnotes for sermons as a way to stay engaged while presenters are speaking. I have been recording sketchnotes since 2016.
I store my completed notebooks and journals in various ways. My yearly planners stay close to my desk for quick-reference. They contain quotes as well as notes, and I frequently refer back to a previous year’s events. The daily notes (pocket notebooks) are stored in a photo box. I keep the other notebooks and journals on a large bookshelf in my office.
After seeing pictures on Instagram and Pinterest of stacks of journals, I decided to hold a notebook reunion and bring all of my notebooks and journals together. The result is below. Only one notebook couldn’t make it. Alas, I left a pocket notebook at an IKEA store. Even though my contact information was inside (someone emailed me to tell me he found it), the store never contacted me.
L-R: (1) Sermon sketchnotes, (2) Music journals, (3) Planners, (4) Bible notebooks, and (5) daily notes in pocket notebooks.
In this collection are primarily Moleskine notebooks. I also like Paperblanks journals. However, you don’t have to have expensive notebooks to start keeping information. My first music logs were simply basic composition books.