There are two types of people in this world: Those who keep a journal, and those who haven’t yet found the right type of journal for them. If you fall into the latter camp, let me introduce you to the two easy-to-keep journals I’ve been using every day for years. (Yes, years.)
Journal #1: One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book
The price: $10.17
The reason: I’m not one of those writers who, as a child, filled endless notebooks with amusing fiction, retellings of elementary school gossip, or fake magazine articles (to be referred to in a career profile after making it big-time). I wish I were. In reality, I’ve always been a patchy journal-keeper at best, ebbing between bouts of daily writing and months of undocumented living. That is, until 2012, when I started keeping a “One Line a Day” journal.
The journal, as its name suggests, is supposed to be written in once a day—one line only. In practice, I can normally squeeze in a couple of short sentences, but the sentiment remains: It’s not a journal for telling stories; it’s a journal for recaps, musings, and punchlines. The second most intriguing thing about this journal—beyond its limited writing space—is that it’s designed to be used for five years. The book has 365 pages and each page is split into five sections, one for each year. The first year you use it, you fill in the first section of each page. When the next year begins, you flip back to the front of the journal and do the same with the second section. Once you’ve been writing in it for a couple of years, every day you are gifted with a little reminder of what you were doing on that day in previous years.
I was 20 when I started my first One Line a Day journal, an editorial assistant, single, and took myself extremely seriously (only one of these things is still true). Eight years later, I’m on my second one, which I will finish at the end of next year. This journal is quite literally my most prized possession. Inside these two books is every heartbreak, promotion, move, doubt, big win, love, and loss that I’ve experienced in the last eight years. I can’t imagine ever not having one of these journals on my nightstand.
Journal #2: Leuchtturm1917 Dotted Hardcover Notebook
The price: $19.95
The reason: I could end my journal love affair story right there, but that wouldn’t be a story about two journals now, would it? It would also mean robbing myself of the opportunity to talk about my second favorite: the Leuchtturm1917 dotted notebook, which I also use every single day.
I’ve always been a list maker (to-do list, to-buy list, to-get-over list), but in 2017 I succumbed to the hype and started bullet journaling. (If you’re not familiar, bullet journaling is a very specific but extremely customizable type of journaling that uses a bullet-point system.) I attribute it all to my former editor (now close friend) Rachel, who literally wrote the book on bullet journaling. In the book, and in real life, she recommends the Leuchtturm1917, so, naturally, it’s what I bought. The journal comes in 19 different colors—I had a sand one through 2017–2019 and bought a black one for 2020—and has thick, milky pages that feel oh-so good to write on.
Bullet journaling, like slam poetry and windsurfing (I’m guessing), feels incredibly intimidating until you actually start doing it yourself. Your layouts can be as basic or as intricate as you want (mine are super basic) and once you get your head around the simple dot/arrow/slash/box key, it’s basically just a fancy-ass to-do list on nice paper stock. Talk to anyone in the Man Repeller office and you’ll quickly learn that I have a reputation for being “organized” and “together.” The truth is, I just have a bullet journal.
Just like Sailor Moon is busy fighting evil by moonlight and winning love by daylight, I am doing two equally important things at different times of the day when I start my morning in the office by updating my bullet journal to-do list and habit tracker, and finish each night with a One Sentence Review of my day. If you’ve been looking for a new way to keep tabs on your tasks (and appear like a :star: in the office) or for a diary that doesn’t feel like an overwhelming time commitment, trust me, and try both of these perfect journals.