The Best Journals for Productivity and Personal Growth in 2018

We tried some of the best journals & notebooks available - and here is what we discovered:

Every last one of us is seeking progress of some kind. Perhaps it's progress toward goals, good habits, better health, or a deeper sense of mindfulness. Whichever of these your end may be, putting your goals and reflections to paper in a notebook is a scientifically proven way to hasten the journey toward achieving these milestones in your life.

Sounds easy, right? Maybe not...

The truth is that many people struggle to start (and keep) their journaling habit. Luckily, there are countless purpose-driven notebooks and journals on the market now that can focus your writing into the most beneficial format for your particular goal or desire.

In order to make the decision easier for you, we have tried out several of the best notebooks out there. We have spent a lot of time writing our morning devotionals, tracking our habits, making notes on our daily schedule, and reflecting on our day - and here is what we've found about each one:

Let's take a look at the contenders!

5-Minute Journal

The 5 Minute Journal encourages you to form a simple, but incredibly beneficial daily habit of beginning with gratitude and finishing up with reflecting on your day. Each page is split into two sections: morning and evening. Each section has a few prompts to put you in the right state of mind to face your day with an open and mindful attitude. The morning section features prompts such as, "I am grateful for...", "What would make today great?", and "Daily affirmations. I am..." The evening portion of the page asks you to reflect on "3 amazing things that happened today" and "How could I have made today even better?" It's a simple system, to be sure, but many people praise its ability to put them in an open and more grateful state of mind.


  • Simple and easy to understand prompts
  • One 5 Minute Journal lasts 6 months
  • Great for creating an open, grateful attitude


  • Absolutely no room for free-writing, notes, or sketches
  • It only focuses on mindset, so you will need a different journal/notebook for tasks, to-dos, and productivity
  • The prompts will feel repetitive to some

    Bullet Journal / Dot-Grid

    Bullet Journal Dot-Grid

    Much has been written about the bullet journal craze of the last few years. Essentially, bullet journaling is a system of organizing your tasks, lists, events, agenda, and more into an indexed system - based on a dot grid notebook. Personally, I found the index/key system of bullet journaling to be a bit of a high energy investment, but I will say that I love a dot grid notebook for the sort of flexible structure it provides. Most bullet journalers bend the system to fit their need, so if you are a creative DIY-type of person, this may be a great fit for you.


    • A dot grid is suitable for sketches, notes, lists, floor plans, and so much more
    • You can create your own system (as long as you write it down)


    • There are no daily or weekly prompts keeping you on track
    • Some may find the lack of structure intimidating

    Self Journal

    The Self Journal takes some of the ideas in the 5 Minute Journal and combines them with the features of a daily planner and goal-setting notebook. It features daily schedule pages with a small space for notes. It also has a few prompts to help you reflect on your day including: "This morning I am grateful for", "Lessons I learned", and "Wins". It also, like the 5 Minute Journal, contains daily quotes for inspiration and thought. The Self Journal also has weekly tracking pages that are geared towards helping you keep a handle on habits you are trying to develop and your mindset for the week. This system of weekly pages plus daily pages that try to do so much can be effective for some, but others may find it a bit too rigid and complex.


    • Multi-purpose - space for prompts, a daily schedule, and weekly reflections
    • One Self Journal lasts 13 weeks (or 3 months)
    • Available at a slightly discounted price on a subscription basis


    • Many will find its system a bit too rigid or complex for their taste
    • Not much room for free writing or notes and sketches
    • More expensive than other available options


    Day Timer

    Ah yes, the good ole' Day-Timer. Maybe you think that these only belong on your father's executive desk next to the Rolodex, but the truth is many people still find a daily schedule and agenda invaluable to help them get through the day while accomplishing all of their tasks. Most of these are formatted to allow you to buy one single container or binder, and then refill it with inserts to fit your need. Day-Timer offers monthly, daily, and weekly pages. Many people will need to carry a separate notebook for notes and free writing, but if your daily agenda is top priority, this might just be your notebook.


    • They offer monthly, weekly, and daily inserts to keep your day on track
    • Day-Timers are refillable, so you won't have to buy an entirely new one when you run out of pages


    • The product is a bit bulkier than some of the other options on this list
    • No room for free-writing, sketches, notes
    • Mostly work and no play

    Moleskine / Lined Pages

    Last but not least we have the venerable Moleskine. While these ubiquitous notebooks are available in many different formats, I focused on the standard lined pages version for the purposes of this review. It's form factor and build quality are very nice, and it is very convenient for throwing in a bag or backpack. The lined pages give you a ton of room to write whatever you would like, whether that's a list, poem, or study notes. While the total lack of structure and prompts will be freeing for some, others will benefit from some prompts and more purposed pages. that said, if you are looking for wide open space to collect your thoughts, Moleskine is a great way to go!


    • Available in many colors and sizes
    • No rigid format to adhere to. Write what you want when you want to


    • There are no daily or weekly prompts keeping you on track
    • Some may find the lack of structure intimidating

    So which one should I choose?

    This is actually the beginning of a different story. You see, after trying all these options for journaling, I discovered something: Every one of these options had some great benefits, but none of them provided everything that I might want for my perfect notebook system.

    I love the prompts in the 5 Minute Journal, but I also really like the daily schedule that a Day-Timer provides. I would also feel very constricted if I didn't have a free writing area to collect my notes and ideas throughout the day. More than that, I know as well as you do that everyone in this world is vastly different, and they are going to have different things in mind for their own perfect journal.

    That's when I decided to do something about it...

    My friend Michael and I set out to create the first notebook that can accomplish all of this, in one simple book. We wanted to make sure everyone could benefit from the amazing life-changing habit of journaling while enjoying the usefulness of a regular journal throughout their day.

    That's why we made OneBook

    OneBook Best Journal


    It's the first journal built specifically for you and the last journal you'll ever need.

    Learn More


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