3 Journaling Hacks That Get You Unstuck

3 Journaling Hacks That Get You Unstuck

We’ve all been there. You whip out your newly minted journal, grab your favorite pen, and poise your hand over that fresh crisp page– and everything goes blank. How do you even start? Which sticker should you use? Will everything fit? Where should you put the date? Should you come up with a title? How do you even put your overwhelming feelings into words?

Before you know it, you’re shifting through sheets of stickers– and you’re distracted. You’re running out of time so you quickly write down what you wanted to journal in the first place in a hurry. It will have to do.

Have you ever journaled this way? I know I have on more occasions than I can count. I’ve always found that writing down my experiences, my musings, and thoughts in my journal gives me much needed clarity– but not when I get stuck and distracted at the start. Instead it makes me feel frustrated, unaccomplished, brain-foggy, and worse off than I started.

Ever since then, resolving to defeat this beast of a distraction, I’ve stepped back and found some hacks that keep the distraction at bay and get to journaling what really matters.

Manga of the 3 Journaling Hacks that get you unstuck

Journaling hack #1 : Use a handful of stickers that actually add to your journaling

Don’t design and journal at the same time

When I was in Japan, I used to spend hours in Tokyu Hands or the Loft browsing the thousands of kawaii stickers. I was in stationery heaven. But how much of those stickers did I really use in my journaling? Let’s just say, some of my sticker sheets sitting in my tin box are a couple of years old, untouched. Why? Because although they made my journal entries pretty, it was an effort to match them every time. I always got stuck picking out what looked good with what.

What was I doing? I asked myself. I only wanted to journal but I found myself getting lost designing instead. Although I find designing very therapeutic, it doesn’t exactly achieve the much needed clarity of mind that journaling brings.

Set aside time to prepare and design your journal separately. So that when inspiration strikes, you can get straight to journaling. In this video, I prepare my journal from a printable I've made - The Enikki Kit.

Stick to one sticker sheet set

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying stop using stickers. I strongly recommend it. Using stickers is a hack in itself. They are pictures that speak a thousand words. But here’s one thing to remember: If you do use sticker sheets, stick to one sticker sheet set.

Do you know why a sticker sheet looks so good you’re happy to part with your hard earned money to buy it? Here’s the secret: an artist has already done the designing for you– and it took them hours to do it. So when you’re journaling, save your precious time by sticking to that one sticker sheet or if you bought a set, stick to the set (pun intended). You don’t have to worry about trying to match things because they already do. You’ll end up with a page that is aesthetically designed, satisfyingly consistent, and you’ve used the majority of your time journaling what matters.

Choose your stickers wisely - use emoji or stickers that express emotions

One of the things I’ve discovered about using stickers in journaling is that not all stickers are made for journaling. Many stickers are designed for decorating. But not many are designed for journaling. Sure, that trending artistic plant sticker is beautiful but if you rarely dip a hand in gardening, when do you think you will actually use that sticker to tell something about what happened in your day? My sakura stickers are cute but I’ve rarely used them to tell a story in my journal.

Feeling this lack of stickers made for journaling, I decided in 2018 to start making ones that do. Especially ones that show all the emotions that I need to show when journaling. And oh, what a challenge it’s been. Talk about all the emotions that go into a journal! Yet I’ve found that using stickers that show emotions helps me get straight to my thoughts rather than trying to find the words to describe my overwhelming feelings.

The work I put into creating those stickers has really paid off. I just pick the right emotion, stick it on, and write down why I felt that way. What a handy shortcut. Now I can finish journaling before my three year old decides Mommy’s me time is over.

Do you want to try this hack? You can nab a girl sticker with a wide range of emotions in my Enikki Kit for free. Here is how I used some of them in my actual journal.

Journaling hack #2: Master printables & digital stickers

Use pre-made journaling templates with good design

Journals come in all sorts of forms. From guided journals to bullet journals, everyone can find a style that fits their needs. After decades of journaling, in different formats, I have found a favorite: journaling printables.

Printables are digital files usually in PDFs that you print for yourself, as opposed to one that’s already premade such as guided journals that you buy off a store. Journaling printables are made specifically for journaling.

Here's a few pages from my journal that I've printed.

Pages from my journal made with the Enikki Kit

I love them because you never have to worry about running out of paper to write on. Just print some more pages! You never have to worry about filling in those blank pages of days you skipped journaling because you can choose to print only what you want to fill in. 

Plus there are a lot of printables out there that look better than those you can find off stores. And when I mean a lot, I mean there is a lot. You can buy them off Etsy or Creative Market. Choose one that not only looks pretty, but supports your journaling. Using just any printable might leave you working around the design rather than it serving your purposes.

One of my favorite artists who create printables and stickers for journaling is seasonjours.

With journaling in mind, I’ve made the Enikki Kit, which has pages and pages of every essential thing you will need in a journaling printable. I’ve tried to balance the rigidity of pre-made templates with the flexibility of undated dot grid pages that make space for your creativity to use stickers. If it’s your first time using printables, try the Enikki Kit– it’s free!

Here's a flip through of the different kinds of premade page templates and stickers in the Enikki Kit.

Don’t change your theme every month

I know you’ve seen it on Instagram– all those beautiful monthly themes people do in their bullet journal. Tempting, yes. I have tried it and it was loads of fun. Unfortunately, it was also a major block to my journaling. At first it was fun, and then it was painful. So much that I found journaling in pure text on Google Keep was the only way I could record things.

So how often should you change your theme? I recommend changing it once a year. Really? Yes. Won’t you get bored? On the contrary, I’ve found it works better over time.

The more you master how to use which pages of a printable you can use for what, the more time you will save and the more focused you’ll be. If you stick to a handful of layouts, you don’t need to keep figuring out what goes where. You’ll know up to where you need to write so your text doesn’t take all the white space your eyes need to make re-reading your journal easier. Your pages will look consistent and consistency is one of the secrets to good pleasing design. Designing won’t get in your way and journaling gets easier and you’re less likely to get stuck.


How do you master a theme? By knowing what you love to journal. I’ve found that bullet journaling doesn’t work for me because when I look back on my entries, I don't really care about remembering every detail of my life. The journal entries that I love re-reading over and over were the ones that explained the whys rather than the what of things, so I use a page that I can write long entries in. I love the quotes pages that strike inspiration. I love logging over a period of weeks about the same thing if something new or a milestone was going on, so that’s what I use weekly spreads for.

Digital stickers: never run out of stickers again

Another thing that gets me stuck is when I run out of stickers. You know that half used alphabet sticker sheet that has all the letters except the ones you need? 😂The solution to this is to use digital stickers. They can come as a page from a PDF printable such as the alphabet and number stickers page in the Enikki Kit or you can get them as transparent PNG files you can print yourself. You can buy all sorts of stickers from Etsy. But I find having a journaling printable and sticker set that were designed to match makes my journal aesthetic without spending too much effort designing.

Here I use the Enikki Kit weekly page and added date stickers and girl stickers. I printed the stickers on clear sticker labels. The advantage of printing them on clear sticker labels is I can cut them roughly and it will still look nice and sharp because there is no white border around the image in the sticker.

 Spread from my journal using the Enikki Kit stickers

Even when using the Enikki Kit journaling printable, there are days that I still do run out of physical stickers and I need to remember to set aside a day to print and cut. Another way I’ve found never to run out of stickers is to journal digitally. I use the GoodNotes app on my iPad and write with an Apple pencil. After loading the Enikki Kit PDF into it, I import the stickers as elements in GoodNotes. It’s as good as journaling on paper, without all the tactile feel of physical stickers. At the end of the year, I print them out on paper and bind them together with my paper journal. More on this in the journaling hack #3 below.

Journaling hack #3: Keep it loose-leaf

Prepare your journal for change

I have tried all sorts of journaling notebooks from thread bound notebooks to A5 binders to spirals. The best format that was able to take whatever I threw at it, no matter what season I was in was loose leaf. It is the least clunky and the most flexible format I have ever tried. Missed to journal a day? No worries. You don’t need to fill it in with random design or words like all of us who can’t stand that accusing blank page. You don’t even need to tear out or reshuffle pages as you would in a thread bound notebook or A5 binder. Nothing. Just grab another sheet for whenever you need to journal next. Want to change your content from a weekly spread to a daily page for those days you’re journaling sporadically? Grab that daily page and keep journaling. You don’t even need to follow the bullet journal rules when it's not working for a season😮.

There’s nothing as sure as change in life and when you're journaling your life story, your journal needs to be able to adapt to each change as well.

Foolproof Folio

If you’re loving the idea of keeping it loose-leaf, there is one thing you need to do. How do you keep from losing your precious pages? I’ve tried using all sorts of ways to keep my sheets together but the best way is to keep them in a folio that has a zip around it. I like journaling on A5 sheets of paper (I cut A4 paper in half). While I journal during the year, I keep them inside an A5 folio. Whenever I journal, all I need to do is pull out the pre-printed page that I need and after, I just stick it back in place and zip it up. Nice and safe.

Foolproof folio for keeping a loose leaf journal

Bind your own journal

At the end of the year, I order all those sheets and bind them using a method called perfect binding. I got this idea after seeing this video by Sea Lemon. I don’t use a book binding jig. Instead I line up the sheets, put them in between some heavy books or reams of copy paper and brush a few layers of glue on one edge.

I love keeping it loose-leaf in a folio and binding my own journal because it saves so much money. I can have as many pages as I want and I don’t have to run out and buy a new notebook each time I reach the end of it. As a bonus, I get to design my journal book covers exactly the way I want it.

To summarize, here are the three journaling hacks to help you get unstuck when a creative journaling block kicks in.

☝️ Limit yourself to a set of stickers designed for journaling.

✌ ️Master journaling printables and digital stickers.

👌 Keep it flexible with loose-leaf + folio + binding combination.

 Keep distraction out of your journaling and keep the clarity that comes with it. Download my free Enikki Kit to help you hack it, get unstuck, and journal about what really matters.

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