Review: The Simplified Journal by Emily Ley


I am excellent at having tons of great ideas, but I am terrible at making sense of them. I hated being in school and having so much structure, but it turns out that structure is what keeps me sane. I figured this out a few weeks after graduation and spent the years that followed “working for the man” at corporate soul-sucking gigs in order to try and re-gain the comfort and stability I felt when I was in school. I knew where I had to be, what I had to do, and what it all led to. I thought going from school to the corporate world would translate well. It did not.

I yearned for more. I would write in this blog in order to give myself a creative outlet and space to breathe. I wanted to create. I had so many ideas, so many thoughts, but I couldn’t figure out what I wanted them to become. Beauty? Fashion? Personal Style? Recipes? Snarky? Sweet? Feminine? Feminist? I spent so much of my day bound by structure and red tape that when it came time for my personal endeavors I would just sit down and write about anything without having a plan. I wanted to be free! No rules! No red tape! But it didn’t work. I need guidance more than I’d like to admit.

I’m bad at brainstorming because I love skipping the whole “brain dump/think anything” part and heading straight for the outline. I love outlines… kind of like I love lists. I love to know what I’m getting myself into. I love planning. Therefore, I always jump into outlining things right from the start. But sometimes a step back is needed.

The Simplified Journal is my perfect step back. It’s where I go to every night, after the craziness of my day, to just write. I’ll write my random thoughts, or fun quotes I read. I’ll write some ideas that are half-baked and not yet ready for a full plan. But they are still good ideas. And something I’ve learned along the way is that not every good idea needs to become a plan just yet. It’s important to give yourself time to think about it and to let the plan come to you when it’s time.

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The Simplified Journal by Emily Ley In Depth Review about the original journal and how it helps "forced journaling" for anyone who gets lots in thought
Review: The Simplified Journal by Emily Ley



The Simplified Journal by Emily Ley is truly beautiful. It features a turquoise leatherette covering and a gold ribbon page marker, with Emily’s favorite quote gracing the front in gold foil lettering. It is beautiful to look at, so instead of tucking it away with my other books and journals I always leave it out on my desk.

The Design:

  • Each day has two dedicated pages to work on when open flat.
  • And it does lay flat! One of my biggest pet peeves with non-spiral bound journals is that they never lay flat. This journal is the best of both worlds: no chunky spiral binding, but easily folds over to let you write.
  • There are 100 pages to write on!
  • All pages are undated so you aren’t committed to writing once per day – only when inspiration hits!
  • The paper is butter-soft, although certain pens do bleed through. I started out with a Uni-Ball Vision elite pen but had to swap it out for a ball point pen instead.

simplified journal by emily ley
Writing Sections:

  • As mentioned, each day has two full pages: a left and a right page in order to fully “flush” all your thoughts out.
  • On the left page is a lined “brain dump” section where you can really brainstorm without boundaries. It’s similar to a regular notebook on this side.
  • On the right page there are five sections: “Date” and “Today I Feel” are at the top. “Thoughts” is the large portion in the middle. And at the bottom are two “recap” sections: “This Went Well Today” and “This Was Challenging Today”

inside the simplified journal by emily ley
How I Use This Journal:

  • I always fill out the “Brain Dump” first. I go for Stream-Of-Consciousness here: whatever I’m thinking, whatever word comes to mind, I write it down. These are always really random thoughts and ideas that make no sense when I read them again. BUT it helps me tremendously. This is how I brain storm, and these random thoughts and words usually are the beginning of a great idea and a great plan.
  • Once I fill out the “Brain Dump” section I try to make sense of it all in the “Thoughts” portion of the journal. Here’s where the plans begin. If I wrote about how messy the apartment is, I make a list under “Thoughts” of things I’ve been avoiding around the house that can’t be ignored anymore.
  • After this is when I write how I feel today. I am very in touch with my feelings, but usually after a long day at work I am not even sure how my day went. I go through the motions to meet my deadlines and hustle as best I can. Sometimes I forget to feel.
  • After a glance back at all my ideas I’ll date it and fill out the recap sections of “This Went Well Today” and “This Was Challenging Today.” It’s some nice, barely-there critical thinking about the day. But getting it all out is what helps me sleep at night.

So why do I love this journal? Why not just get a cute Kate Spade notebook and call it a day? Because of the guidance. The barely-there but still incredibly helpful structure that I have realized I need. It’s the answer to a problem I didn’t even know I had. And for that I am very thankful!


5 Stars



As if you can’t tell by all the gushing I did throughout this review, this journal gets my highest rating. The Simplified Journal by Emily Ley is $32.00 and available online at Now, I know it might seem crazy to buy a glorified notebook for $32, but it’s so much more than that! The structure it adds to my brain storming, without being suffocating and still letting me think, is so valuable to me and to my life. It helps me build my ideas into something real, and reminds me that it’s okay to have ideas that aren’t fully planned out yet. If you follow me on instagram you know I always say this: between my Simplified Journal and my Day Designer I am going to be unstoppable!