We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
A self-journal provides a space to stay organized, reflect, and seek inspiration. We evaluated top options on design, layout, and format. Our choice for best overall is the BestSelf Co. Self Journal, a durable planner that also includes space for logging gratitude, daily reflections, and tracking goals.
Here are the best self-journals available.
Best Overall: BestSelf Co. Self Journal
Thorough and actionable prompts
Only covers three months
If you've already heard of self-journaling, then you've probably stumbled upon this company. The BestSelf Co. SELF Journal is one of the most popular and robust self-journals you can buy, and it's not hard to see why it has so many fans. Taken at face value, it's a daily planner that helps you increase productivity in your personal and professional life. But it's also so much more than that.
This journal is divided into three sections: daily, weekly and monthly. It spans 13 weeks—far less intimidating than a yearly planner—and isn't dated, so you can start anytime. Each day you can chronicle your to-dos, your goals, your lessons learned, and even your evening gratitude, giving you a chance to look introspectively at your life as you reach your long-term and short-term goals. And at just 8.25 x 5.5 inches, the SELF Journal is incredibly easy to travel with and keep with you on the go.
Best Daily: Intelligent Change The Five Minute Journal
Includes daily quotes and inspiration
Lacks space for extra reflection
Short on time, but love the idea of boosting your mood and upping your productivity via a mindfulness practice like journaling? You'll love this prompted journal, which features structured twice-daily exercises (one in the morning; one at night) you can complete in just five minutes. The journal isn't dated, either, to help take the pressure off. If you miss a day, simply pick up right where you left off.
The journal is perfect for your bedside. The woven hardcover not only looks great, but it's also firm enough to write in without a surface. It also has a ribbon bookmark, so you'll always know exactly where you are in your practice.
Best Bullet: Leuchtturm1917 Medium A5 Dotted Hardcover Notebook
Paper is a bit thin
Journalers of all levels—both newbies and seasoned pros—will love this traditional-style notebook from Leuchtturm1917. It comes in 24 different colors to suit any style—go bold with a port red or keep things business professional with black. The book is a nice portable size, measuring 5.75 x 8.25 inches, so you can toss it in your purse or backpack when you're on the go.
There's no shortage of space, either. Each notebook comes with 251 numbered writing pages with a dot grid to make bullet journaling easier, plus eight perforated pages, a blank table of contents, and a folder to keep any loose paper and extras organized.
Best for Mental Health: The Anti-Anxiety Notebook
Helpful guided exercises
On the smaller side
The Anti-Anxiety Notebook is a targeted journal that uses evidence-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques to help you manage stress and anxiety in both the short- and long-term. Each of the 100 guided journal entries prompts you to reflect on your emotions and thought patterns, with helpful questions like "What is going through your mind?" and "How can you think about the situation differently?".
Interspersed throughout the notebook are helpful tips and notes from therapists, along with useful literature on the importance of things like mindfulness, quality sleep, and positive relationships in managing anxiety. It also includes an appendix of CBT basics and techniques—making this a journal that you'll want to come back to long after completing all of its entries.
Best Gratitude: Good Days Start With Gratitude: Cultivate An Attitude Of Gratitude
Comes in paperback or spiral-bound
Includes inspirational quotes
Lacks space for additional reflection
As the name implies, the Good Days Start With Gratitude journal is, well, a simple notebook designed to help you take stock of what you're thankful for each day. It has a full year of gratitude, broken down into weekly segments that allow you to remember what you're grateful for each day and check in at the end of the week. By writing down what makes you happy and reflecting on your growth, you can work towards becoming a more grateful, grounded person. Each segment is beautifully designed with a quote to inspire you as you start the week off.
Best Inspirational: Do It For Yourself (Guided Journal): A Motivational Journal
Enough space for reflection
Colors differ slightly from pictures
Designed by creativity and productivity expert Kara Cutruzzula, the Do It for Yourself Journal delivers on its promise, providing you with plenty of space to find inspiration and mobilize your creative goals. Organized into five different stages, from "Building momentum" to "Following through," this journal has 75 prompts to help you boost productivity and reconnect with yourself. Dozens of interspersed quotes, like "Start before you're ready" and "Comparison will kill you," only add to the inspiration.
Though it won't help you remember that doctor's appointment next Tuesday, this pop art-inspired notebook is the perfect place to come—not to mention how good it'll look on your desk.
Best for Wellness: Insight Editions Self-Care: A Day and Night Reflection Journal
Easy for beginners to use
Lacks space for additional reflection
Whether or not you have a specific wellness goal in mind, tracking your quality of sleep, food and water intake, activity levels, and mood can have a profound impact on your self-awareness.
This journal has 90 days' worth of pages to help you set your intentions, record thoughts, and track habits. The pages are undated, so you can start and stop whenever you need to, and the journal measures about 5 x 8 inches for convenient portability. The cover also has a beautiful and relaxing graphic of a plant that will look great on your nightstand or desktop.
Best for Productivity: Papercode Simple Elephant Daily Planner
Easy to use
Includes extras like stickers
Pages are a bit thin
Proper time management is key to productivity, but so are exercises like creating a vision board and goal setting. In this planner and journal combo, you'll get the best of both. The undated weekly planner has plenty of room for your daily to-dos, but each week also has a spot to write out your top goals and priorities, plus reflect on your biggest successes and the things you can improve upon. More broadly, the notebook also has space for creating a mindmap and a vision board to pinpoint your priorities, achievements, and aspirations so you can manifest the best year yet. Choose from five colors to suit your personal style.
Best for Kids: Ananda Creative Gratitude Journal for Kids: A Journal to Teach Kids to Practice the Attitude of Gratitude and Mindfulness in a Creative & Fun Way
A variety of exercises to keep kids entertained
Easy for kids to follow
Holds up to regular use
Space for each exercise is a bit limited
Use this journal to help teach your kids an important life skill: gratitude. The paperback book features simple daily prompts that make journaling easy and approachable for even the youngest set. Kids will explore their thoughts and feelings through a variety of unique prompts that encourage writing, drawing, and coloring. They'll reflect on things that happened that day or week, plus explore their mood, set intentions, and hone in on actionable goals to further themselves and help others. Though easy enough for kids ages 5 through 10 to do alone, it's also a great activity for kids and parents or caregivers to do together.
Our best overall pick is the BestSelf Co. Self Journal, a versatile all-in-one option that gives you the space and structure to track habits, goals, and self-care. If you're specifically looking for a bullet journal, we recommend the LEUCHTTURM1917 Dotted Hardcover Notebook. It has a professional look and dotted pages that can be used however you please.
What to Look for in a Self-Journal
Do you want lots of space to reflect? Or do you want to be able to tote your journal wherever you go? If you envision needing lots of room to write or doodle, opt for a larger journal (just note that it may be too large or heavy to carry on the regular). If portability is important, opt for something smaller and lighter, like a softcover notebook.
Think about what type of format would best support you and your goals. Do you need a lot of guidance to get the task done every day? If so, consider a journal with daily prompts. But if you're the more creative type and want the space to let your thoughts flow, look for a journal with plenty of blank space for reflection. In general, undated journals provide more flexibility, but some find dated options help keep them accountable.
Select a design that appeals to you. If you like the way your journal looks, you'll be more drawn to it each day. Do you like a softcover journal with a more fanciful cover design, or do you prefer a hardcover notebook with a simpler aesthetic that looks clean on your nightstand? When it comes to the overall aesthetic, it's all about personal preference. Just remember: In general, hardcover notebooks and journals tend to be more durable, but softcovers are thinner and lighter, making them easier to transport.
What's the difference between a self-journal and a planner?
While there may be some overlap between a self-journal and a planner, a self-journal is more of a space for reflection on goals, desires, or gratitude, according to Holly Chapman, Head of Global PR for Papier. Planners, on the other hand, are more often used as productivity tools, providing a space for a calendar and a to-do list.
What supplies do you need to start a self-journal?
You don't need much to start a self-journal. "Depending on the type of journaling you want to do, you can start with just a pen and paper," says Chapman. But if your method of journaling is a little more complex—bullet journaling, for example—you may also want to have additional supplies on hand, like colored pens or pencils, or even stickers.
Where's the best place to keep a self-journal?
The best place to keep a journal is by your bed, says Chapman. This helps keep the practice consistent, she explains. Why? Your self-journal will be within arm's reach at the times you're most likely to have the time to devote attention to it—first thing in the morning when you wake up or last thing in the evening before you go to bed.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was researched and edited by Brigitt Earley, a writer and editor who has been writing product reviews for The Spruce since 2018. When researching picks for this article, she read dozens of product reviews on both retailer and third-party sites. She also spoke with Holly Chapman, Head of Global PR for Papier, for further insight.