by Ryan Hart
Updated on February 13, 2019
In this post you’re going to discover my favorite things to to do with an empty notebook.
These are the same ideas that helped me get over my perfectionism and actually fill dozens of blank notebooks with my writing and doodles. Even though I made lots of mistakes, it’s fun to be able to look back at everything I created over the years and see my progress.
I hope these ideas help you turn your empty journals into beautiful and inspiring works of art as well.
Ready to learn my favorite notebook ideas?
Let’s get started!
There are hundreds of ways you could fill an empty notebook.
Unfortunately, this endless list of ideas is what usually keeps people from using their notebooks in the first place. That’s why I narrowed down my list of notebook ideas to just a few of my favorite.
Feel free to use one of these creative ideas or create your own.
Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, suggests starting a one sentence journal. The idea is that most of us avoid journaling on a regular basis because we don’t have time or the thought of writing seems overwhelming. When you only have to write one sentence, this habit becomes pretty easy. And on days when she has a lot to say, she usually writes more. Give it a try!
Use your empty notebooks to keep all of your mood or vision boards in one place. Vision boards are simple collages of photos, text, or drawings used to represent an idea and provide inspiration. You can use a mood board to collect decorating ideas, fantasize about your soulmate, or get motivation for a big goal.
A music journal is a fun way to turn a blank notebook into an inspiring scrapbook. I suggest writing down your favorite songs and artists along with the date. These lists are fun to look back at and reminisce about the songs you once loved. You could also keep a record of upcoming or past concerts, song lyrics, playlist ideas, album covers, or facts about your favorite bands.
In my experience starting a sketchbook is easy, but filling it up can be a difficult undertaking. I suggest making a rule for yourself that you can only draw one thing on each page. This will prevent you from crunching all of your doodles on to one page and will give you the freedom to make mistakes. Don’t let all of those empty pages intimidate you! Just start drawing like you did when you were a young kid.
Bullet journaling is a simple system to organize your to-do list using an empty notebook. While you might find many videos and instagram photos of beautifully decorated bullet journals, the original “BUJO” system was very straightforward. If you want to learn more, I suggest you read my Bullet Journal Setup Guide first.
Other things to fill a notebook with:
Consider filling an empty notebook with your travel plans or journal about your past vacations. Paste in maps of the places you’ve been or draw your own. I’ve traveled with friends that use their journal to keep track of expenses while on vacation and write down any sight-seeing suggestions they learn along the way.
Studies have shown that the key to happiness is gratitude. If you want to feel happier consider writing down one thing you are grateful for each morning. Don’t worry about coming up with something new each day. You can write down the same thing for multiple days in a row. The important point is to get in the habit of practicing gratitude and being thankful for all that you have.
Morning pages is a stream of consciousness writing format created by Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way. She suggests filling three pages each morning with any thoughts that come to mind. Morning pages are not meant to be read by anyone else, so don’t overthink it - just write. I’ve used this strategy for the past few years to start my morning and have seen incredible resutls.
Write down your prayers in an empty notebook to help improve your relationship with God. A prayer journal is a great way to keep track of the prayers you say on behalf of others and to follow up on the prayers that have yet to be answered. I found that when I started keeping track of my answered prayers, I was astonished how many miracles God works each day.
Create a fitness tracker by logging your workouts and exercise routines in an empty notebook. Keeping a fitness journal is a great way to stay motivated when you don’t feel like working out. Studies have shown that keeping track of your fitness progress is an easy way to build a workout habit that sticks.
Things to write in a lined notebook:
I love stickers but I don’t like actually like putting stickers on things. Instead, when I get a new sticker I like to paste it in my journal. If you have dozens or hundreds of stickers you could fill an entire notebook with them.
Keep track of your favorite flowers and plan out your garden in a notebook. Using one journal to keep track of this information is a simple way to remember which flowers thrived or were complete duds. An empty notebook also gives you the space to diagram your yard or planter boxes and make notes about which areas get the most sun.
If you’ve ever tried scrapbooking then you know that it can get expensive and require lots of supplies. Instead, just fill a blank notebook with printed photos and simple captions. No need to get fancy, but don’t let the simplicity hold you back either.
Have you ever had the same dream mulitple times or wondered what it meant? A dream journal is a great place to keep track of your dreams over time and notice patterns. You could even doodle the objects or scense you see in your dreams. I’ve found that if I don’t write down my dream immediately after I wake up I quickly forget the details. Put one of your empty notebooks by your bed so you can write down your dreams before you forget also.
Keep an astrology journal to track the movements of the sun, moon, and stars throughout the year. It might be interesting to see how their position changes affect your mood over a long period of time. If you like reading horoscopes you could also keep a journal of your favorite readings.
I love keeping a collection of quotes to inspire me or give me motivation when I am low on energy. If you love quotes as much as I do, you could turn one of your notebooks into a dedicated quote journal. I suggest dividing the notebook into several sections so you can categorize quotes by topic for easy reference later.
Fill your notebook with creative writing prompts and work on them one at a time. Don’t get overwhelmed by staring at a blank page. Let your creativity ignite and see where your writing takes you. You might be surprised what ideas are inside you just waiting to get out on paper.
More creative notebook ideas:
A side hustle or business journal is a fun way to keep track of your business ideas. Keep track of any new ideas you get in one place in your notebook. Then review them to see which ideas are right for you. If you leave these ideas floating around in your head it can be easy to get overwhelmed by all the possibilities.
My wife and I enjoy watching movies together at home. I keep track of the movies we want to see in an empty notebook so we always have options for movie night. You could use this journal to keep track of your favorite shows, write reviews, or keep track of season release dates.
There are dozens of great apps that will help you organize your contacts, but I’ve found a paper notebook works best for me. Write one letter from the alphabet on every other page in your notebook. Then go through and fill in the names of your contacts under the corressponding letter. This makes it easy to look up addresses when I need to send out birthday or Christmas cards to friends.
Don’t use the same password on more than one website! Yes, I realize it’s difficult to remember a thousand different usernames and passwords. That’s why I suggest using a password manager like LastPass or writing down your login info in a password book. However, make sure you keep this book in a safe place where curious eyes won’t find it!
If spreadsheets and budgets scare you, consider keeping a log of your monthly expenses in an empty notebook. I’ve found that writing down my budget is much more manageable and easier to visualize. You could also keep track of your savings goals, student loan payments or credit card debt in one place.
Dream of learning a foreign language? Turn one of your notebooks into a dedicated place for your notes and vocabulary practice. Studies have shown that matching photos to vocabulary helps you learn a language faster. So paste in photos from magazines of words you learn to help speed up your progress. Consider also filling it with photos or maps of the country you plan to visit someday.
I started designing my dream home when I was very young and still think about it today. During architecture school I filled dozens of sketchbooks full of design ideas and potential floor plans. You could do the same with photos of furniture, paint swatches and room layouts. Get creative and have fun!
Some cute things to do with a notebook:
And now I’d like to hear from you.
What do you plan to do with your empty notebooks?
Are there any creative notebook ideas I forgot to mention?
Either way let me know by leaving a comment below right now.