Lifestyle, Wellness

Unveiling Student Journaling Habits

Photo Credits: Suhyma Rahman, SYDE 2025

With the first month of the year being over, many people who started or revisited journaling are falling off. We asked the engineers around us and it’s revealed that 81.8% of you journal, that’s a lot! However, 72.7% of those surveyed admitted that the reason they don’t journal is due to the lack of time, with the next two issues being lack of inspiration and motivation. These are some of the many problems you may have fallen victim to.

Many of us who started journaling have heard that one must journal every single day, and if you skip a day, you are a failure and will never accomplish your dream journal. Journaling every day is not sustainable for most of us; I definitely don’t journal everyday. A trick you can use is opening your journal to the current page in an area you will see often. This way when you have the urge or need to journal and have a moment, it will be ready for you. I like to leave a pen and marker beside mine as well. If it starts becoming boring or feels like it’s something you have to do to cross off the to-do list, stop! Take a break; why would you force yourself to do something you don’t enjoy? For those of us who enjoy the routine, if you want to build a habit of journaling on a schedule, start small, one sentence a day or a small paragraph. Over time it will build into multiple entries, and only add onto it when you want to or feel ready to do so. One day you might feel like writing more and the next day you might want to go back to one line, that’s okay!

There are lots of people who want to start journaling but they don’t know what to write. You don’t have to write or draw. If you are good at collecting things, junk journaling might be for you. You can still write and draw within your journal if you’d like but they can also be short captions or little notes. You can tape in receipts, tickets, cut up maps, insert business cards, print out pictures, anything you saved – even candy wrappers. Essentially it’s a smaller scrapbook. This method is also good if you get stuck. I like to implement a junk journal page when I have nothing to say.

We’ve all wondered what would happen if someone were to read our diary as a kid, and maybe it happened to you (which in that case, I’m sorry). However, I promise you no one actually cares about the contents of your journal. They might be curious knowing that you keep a record of things, but unless they are evil, they aren’t going to care. Many people who journal do not reread their entries. Of course if the purpose of your journal is to keep memories it makes sense to look back on it. However, if you use your journal for thoughts that you keep overthinking about, then you may not be among those who reread theirs. If you have something on your mind constantly and you write it down with the purpose of getting it out of your head, why would you reread it and put it back in your mind? If you are always writing with the intent of someone else reading it or yourself going back to it, you may want to try stream of consciousness journaling. Stream of consciousness journaling is when you sit down and you write anything your brain thinks of, kind of like a brain dump. You can even set a timer for a couple of minutes and don’t stop writing until the time is over. This will help your journal feel more like yours instead of for someone else.

Your journal doesn’t have to look one way or another to be effective, online there are many journals that look beautiful and filled with stickers and entries but yours doesn’t need to be if you think it is too much. If you like structure you can develop a format that you can follow. For example, in my personal journal I start and end every entry the same way and that makes me really happy. You can use a loose sheet of paper to try some different formats if you don’t want to apply it to your journal right away. If you are using a journal with the intent of it being more of a catch all type of book, you can just go at it, write things you need to remember, dates, lists, anything you need to remember or keep track of. It doesn’t need to be neat, and the only person who needs to understand it is you. Realistically you are not going to be sharing your journal to people or post it anywhere, so it should be whatever you need it to be.

The type of journal you are using might be causing you to lose motivation. I personally use an A5 grid notebook, with 112 pages. This is a great size and option for me, however, for you it might be daunting to open to a book this size. You might feel that no matter how much you write you are not filling it up, making it appear as if there is a lack of progress. On the other side of things, having a smaller notebook might feel more comforting, knowing that you might be able to fill it up more and feel as if you are making progress with your journaling. Again there is a downside to a smaller journal. Some people feel like because if they have a smaller journal, they can only document the most important events in their life because there are only so many pages. It is also important to consider the price point of your journal. This ties into being afraid to waste pages on your journaling experience. Even if you purchase a larger journal, but you got a really fancy or expensive one, you may feel afraid to use it, that your thoughts and experiences are not worth noting. Some high quality affordable ones I like to use are from Leuchtturm1917. Moleskine is also really popular, and both brands have a wide range of sizes and paper weights for heavier mediums. If you’d like an even more affordable one, on Amazon there is a brand called PAPERAGE, they are the same build as Leuchtturm1917 and Moleskine, however, the cover will not last as long. Journaling digitally is also a nice option with editing and searching being available, though it may pressure you to go back and edit your words constantly.

Now dust off your journal and get to it because now is the right time to start… or tomorrow. Happy journaling everyone!

Photo Credits : Katerina Bogdanovich (28 Nanotechnology)

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