January Use It Up Challenge – Notebooks

How many times have you seen a notebook in the store and thought “Oh, I need this!” Only to discover 30 unused notebooks at home? What about promising, or even making a resolution, to journal every day? You may stick with it for a week or so, but soon that journal gets abandoned. The notebook gets shoved in a drawer or cupboard with all the others. Or perhaps, notebooks are where you keep your story ideas. You want to write a novel, but haven’t quite gotten around to it yet. Then the January Use It Up Challenge is for you! This month, we are focusing on notebooks.

January Use It Up Challenge – Notebooks

What is the Use It Up Challenge?

This is a monthly decluttering challenge that focuses on using the items instead of simply getting rid of them. This helps to reduce waste and also gets your money worth out of those items. Each month, a new category is chosen and we will focus on that category all month long. However, you don’t have to stop once that month ends. Keep decluttering and using up those items all year long. It will have a huge impact on your home and life at the end of the year.

If you are joining in, be sure to share your progress on social media using #IHUseItUp. I’d love to see how everyone is getting along with the challenge.

Where to start?

First, let’s take a moment to gather all of the notebooks that we have. Search every drawer, closet, nook, and cranny. Make a pile of them. You might be surprised at how large it gets. Doing this will give you a visual representation of how many notebooks you have. If you are like me, you probably have more than you need.

Second, let’s sort them into two categories. Used and unused. Flip through each notebook to determine if it has previously been used. Make a pile for each category. This is another way of realizing how few notebooks you have actually used. You may be feeling a bit disgusted with yourself at this point. All that money spent on notebooks and so few of them used. Just remember, we are going to be working on this. That’s part of the challenge. You need to know where you are before you can start.

Lastly, sort the used notebooks into categories. Are some journals? What about novel ideas? Perhaps a few are notes for other projects. Know what each notebook was used for. That way, you can continue to use them for that specific purpose. It’s okay if some notebooks cover multiple categories. Those can be used as general notepads for when you need to jot something down.

Which ones to use?

Now that they have been sorted, it’s time to decide which you will use up first. Which ones you choose will be completely up to you and depend on what the purpose of those notebooks is. You can choose a single notebook or multiple ones. However, keep in mind that you are working on using them, filling every single page with something, so don’t get overzealous. Once you have one notebook filled, you can move onto another.

With your notebooks picked out, decide what to use them for. On top of this, make sure you are setting aside time to actually use them. For journaling, make sure you set up a daily time to do so. Adding journaling to your morning routine is a great way to ensure it gets done regularly. Should your notebook be for general use, make sure that it is easy to access. And don’t forget to keep a pen with it! There’s nothing worse than needing to jot something down but not being able to find a pen or pencil anywhere.

All of the notebooks that I own. Twenty-one is total.

Remember, while the focus for January is notebooks, the challenge does not end with the month. By using your notebooks every day this month, you will be setting up a habit that should stick with you for the rest of the year. Keep using them until they are all done.

What I’m using up

I have selected five notebooks to focus on.

The first notebook is for journaling. My plan is, to journal every day – something I have been doing for a few weeks now. It’s something I do in the morning, and occasionally, in the evening. At this point, it’s just random thoughts that pop into my head, however, one day I would like to use some journal prompts as well.

Next is another notebook that will also be used daily. It has been my goal to learn Japanese and one of the areas I am working on is writing and reading comprehension. This is where I will be practicing Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. This is an unlined notebook, which will allow me to write bigger to start with, while I get used to the characters.

Two are for novel ideas. These may be the slowest to fill up. I often make notes in Word instead of in a notebook. However, as I am putting more time into writing, especially finishing my current WIP, I know these notebooks will come in handy.

Lastly, the catchall notebook that sits on my desk. Any time I need to jot something down, whether it’s a reminder to do something, a blog post idea, or a grocery list, that’s the one I turn to. This is my most used notebook, as I know I have burned through several of them over the years. So, I am confident that this one will fill up relatively quickly.

Are you joining me for the January Use It Up Challenge? How many notebooks do you have lying around the house? What do you plan to do with them?


  1. LOVE this idea! I’m always using sticky notes to remind myself of little things, but it makes sense to just pick one of my unused journals!

    1. Author

      Thank you. Sticky notes are great too.

    1. Author

      Thank you. I have quite a few notebooks like that as well. Glad to hear you will be giving this a try.

  2. This is a great challenge! I have tons of notebooks. I’m always buying them during back to school sales. 😬

    1. Author

      Thank you. Oh man, I have to steer clear of sales like that or my notebooks would be even more out of control.

  3. Such a good idea! I try to do this quite often and only ever get to the sorting stage 🙈 I have actually managed to take a few to work with me now as I started a new job so there was a lot to learn. I now write in it daily, even if it’s just a little jobs list of my tasks for the day

    1. Author

      Thank you. That’s good to hear that you are using the ones you took to work. Even small lists every day will add up and eventually fill up those notebooks.

  4. Great idea@ I have so many notebooks that I use for book writing! Now I can use some of them!

    1. Author

      Thank you. I hope you are able to get lots of work done on your books thanks to those notebooks.

  5. This is a good idea I’m so old school too my boyfriend always complains that I like to write things down he’s like use your phone but it’s just something about actually writing that I love I’m sure I have many books lying around I’m going to try this out !

    1. Author

      Thank you. I am the same way, I highly prefer to write something down on paper to using my phone for it. I find actually writing something down makes it easier to remember than when I type it up on my phone or computer. Glad you are giving this a try!

  6. This is a great idea! I actually don’t have too many spare notebooks laying around at the moment – because I gave them all to my youngest over Christmas break for her to color in, but I know I will accumulate more before too long!

    1. Author

      Thanks. That’s great that she is getting good use of those notebooks.

  7. I love this idea! One of my plans for January was to start using up all the mini shampoo/conditioners etc I’ve gathered from hotels and freebies. But I also have so many notebooks! I noticed them on the weekend, a pile of them that I’ve not even touched. Now I’m thinking about all the ones which are half started. I love the idea of assigning different purposes for each one.

    1. Author

      Thanks. There’s a good chance I will be doing a bathroom item focus in a future month. I hope you are able to finish some of your half-used notebooks.

  8. Wow! I love this idea of using things up. I don’t have a problem with notebooks but my kids certainly do. They usually start the school year with 2-3 composition books that never get filled up. I have quite a collection.

    Now you’ve got me thinking about other things that may need to get used up. Thanks for the challenge!

    1. Author

      Thank you. My son has that issue too, coming home at the end of the year with partially filled notebooks. We use them for math and writing practice during the summer.

  9. Great project! Notebooks are not a problem here…I have a child I have to hide them from and they fill up in just a few days. However, I am in the middle of a use it up project of my own…fabric! Seriously, don’t ask how much I have 🙂

    1. Author

      Thank you. Fabric can add up so fast. My mother-in-law is drowning in fabric and still regularly goes to the store to buy more because what she has isn’t right for the project she has in mind.

  10. I have a bunch of notebooks too! I have a catch-all I write everything in and a journal that works as a diary. I’m trying not to keep starting journals because I don’t finish them! Great post! 🙂

    Julie | Darkbluejournal.com

    1. Author

      A catch-all notebook is a must-have for me. They are so handy to have in the house. I have a bad habit of not finishing journals either, but I’m making the effort to stick to it now. Thank you.

  11. you’ve inspired me to restart journaling. I have so many notebooks lying around the house.

    1. Author

      I’m glad I could inspire you to get back into journaling. Good luck filling up those notebooks.

  12. I can’t quite bring myself to count up how many notebooks I’ve got (…let’s just say there’s quite a few!) I always want to be a writer who regularly makes notes in a notebook for my fiction writing but the amount of times I’ve re-ordered chapters I find it easier keeping notes digitally, this sounds like a great challenge to be more organised with using notebooks though.

    1. Author

      I totally understand that. If I hadn’t have gotten rid of a ton of notebooks a while back I would not have wanted to admit to how many I had. Digital notes certainly work better for that. I do keep a lot of my writing notes in a notebook and it can be difficult to find a specific note.

  13. Love this idea!! Completely guilty of buying ALL the notebooks 😅


    1. Author

      Notebooks are so addictive to buy. I hope you can work your way through your notebook stash.

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