Welcome to 3x3 Journal. There’s no fuss, no frills, no fancy books or pricey products. Just a simple, free guide to our journaling system. Perfect for anyone who has considered dipping a toe into journaling but has found themselves lost in a sea of dreams, themes and regimes.
3x3 Journal strips all the unnecessary distractions and barriers away, offering a new way to journal that, at its core, offers simplicity, efficiency and fun.
We use it. We love it. We want to share it with you.
All you need is a Post-it Note …and a pen.
About 3x3 Journal
Where it began
The concept for 3x3 Journal was born out of frustration. We wanted to start building a journaling habit but we struggled to choose the best journal for us. Most journaling systems offered us one or two of the elements we were looking for, but often included bells and whistles we weren’t so keen on. Some journals offered us a lot, most of what we wanted in fact, but this often came at a price; they were either too expensive, or took up more time than we wanted to invest.
We were suffering from journaling performance anxiety. Were our journals big enough? Did they look as good as other journals? Did our journaling sessions last as long as they should? These were the questions keeping us up at night.
So, what did we want? What did our ideal journal look like? We picked up a Post-it Note each and started jotting some ideas down…
Otherwise known as the answer to your (and our) journaling woes!
We have three rules. It’s that simple.
Follow them and in return you’ll be able to build a daily journaling habit that is fast, functional and (most importantly) fun.
3x3 Journal allows you to capture what is important, to convey those things concisely, and ultimately to create an easily reviewable and customisable journal made up of unique daily snapshots.
We’re just asking the most basic question; what three things do you want to write down right now? After you strip away all the distractions, this straightforward approach can give you more insight in just a few minutes than other journals do after you spend long angsty hours painstakingly psycho-analysing your cat.
And it doesn’t get much more affordable than free! We have written up a 3x3 Journal User Guide that can be accessed on this site. Take a look, make it your own, we hope you get as much out of it as we have!
The concept is simple, find something to write on that is roughly 3 inches x 3 inches. Post-it Notes work perfectly; they are exactly 3 inches x 3 inches (what a delightful coincidence!). Steal one from an irritating colleague’s desk. You can tear something bigger down to size if you need to but don’t be precious about it.
Write the date, write your location, write where you got the thing you’re writing on from.
Now it’s over to you, you get 3 bullet points, no more than 2 lines for each one, to get the three most important things out of your head and onto paper. Ask yourself: what three things do I want to write down right now?
Each individual journal entry is called a Canary (see FAQ’s if you’re curious about why!). It is a catchall term for whatever you have used to write your 3 bullet points on.
An aviary is an enclosure for birds, so of course, it should be the name for the place where you keep your Canaries after you have completed them.
Where did you get your Canary from? You always include the source when you are filling in your 3x3 Journal.
Here are the three options:
• Known: Write this if you got the Canary from someone you know, or if you bought it for yourself.
• Stranger: Write this if you solicited the Canary from a mysterious and handsome stranger. Also write this if you solicited the Canary from a grumpy receptionist.
• Stolen: Write this if you stole the Canary from that receptionist’s desk when they weren’t looking. Or, write this if this Canary is a sheet of toilet paper that you took from a public bathroom. If it’s not yours, and you didn’t ask, write ‘stolen’.
1. Each Canary must be as close to 3 inches x 3 inches as possible. You can use your index finger (or any other similarly sized appendage) as a rough scale to tear your Canary down to size.
2. Only three bullet points per Canary (maximum 2 lines each). Also include the source of your Canary, your location and the date (these do not count as part of your bullet points).
3. No second drafts! This doesn’t mean you should obsess about getting your Canary ‘perfect’, we encourage messiness, poor spelling and grammar, smudges, tears, bloodstains etc. The key is speed and authenticity, not precision or aesthetics.
What three things do I want to write down right now?
They don’t have to be grand or revolutionary bullet points; you could write about your mood, or make a note of something small you accomplished, it could be something you read today that you don’t want to forget about, or something great you ate, or gross, or a song you can’t get out of your head.
Do you have a yearly theme? Or something you are working on long term? You can customise your 3x3 Journal to focus more specifically on projects and personal goals. Or you can allow each session to be unstructured without any pre-set direction (you wild free-spirit you).
This part is just for you, you decide what you write, and what you write about can change as much or as little as you want from day to day. When it comes to the content of your 3x3 Journal, you and only you are in charge of what makes the cut.
This leaves you with a snapshot. It captures your day, but it also captures a glimpse of you within that day. When you look back at old Canaries, you will be able to see very quickly what kind of mood you were in, what frame of mind, the three things you choose will vary based on how you felt at the moment of writing. Perhaps one week your bullet points will be about all the things you did, another week it might be all the things you didn’t do, or simply the things that you can’t get off your mind.
You need something to write on. You need something to write with. You need somewhere to put the thing that you wrote on once you’re done with it.
A Post-it Note/ sticky note/ any kind of note/ scrap paper/ boring business card/ toilet paper sheets/ big(ish) leaf/ shirt pocket…
A pen/ pencil/ crayon/ lump of charcoal/ lipstick/ tattoo-gun/ blood/ any other bodily fluid…
A photo album/ note book/ envelope/ old sock/ funky hat/ local bulletin board…
If you don’t fancy storing your Canaries in your home you can create a Digital Aviary. Just take a photograph of each completed Canary and keep them safe in a digital photo album, or create a personal (or public if you lack boundaries!) 3x3 Journal Instagram account where you upload a picture of your daily Canary.
If you are unable to use pen and paper then you can 3x3 Journal in your preferred note-taking app. The Post-it App is a solid option, as is any voice-to-text app. If you are using dictation then be aware of the 2 lines per bullet point constraint; on a Post-it Note this is only around 5-15 words!
Do I have to do it every day?
The short answer is no. We think that the flexibility and user freedom of 3x3 Journal is one of its most attractive qualities. We don’t demand your time every day. However, we have to admit that there is something very pleasing about doing a Canary every day and it easily slots in before bed because it only takes a few minutes to complete. The best frequency is the frequency you will be able to stick to. Try daily, if it doesn’t work, do it less.
Where do I put a Canary when it is written?
Into your chosen Aviary (see 3x3 User Guide for terminology if you aren’t sure what we’re talking about here!). We think photo albums are the ideal Aviary, they keep everything together in a visually pleasing way and it's really quick and easy to read through a lot of older Canaries in one go. Notebooks work if you are using Post-it Notes or a sticky equivalent. Envelopes. Old socks. You could post them through your least favourite neighbours letterbox every day. Anything goes.
Can I use 3x3 Journal alongside other journaling techniques?
Absolutely. Because the content is completely up to you it means that you can really easily use 3x3 Journal to try out a different style of journaling. For example, if you wanted to try gratitude journaling you could use 3x3 Journal as the framework, make one or all of your bullet points about something you are grateful for. It allows you to trial different techniques and focus on different things throughout the year without giving up more time and for no additional expense.
Why 3 inches x 3 inches?
It’s a great size. At least, that’s what the people at Post-it Note thought when they made their original product, and we agree! Not overwhelmingly large, but certainly big enough to get the job done well. That’s why we chose this sizing as the framework for our journal. A universally pleasing size hits that ‘just right’ spot for people jotting stuff down all over the world.
You are never far from a Post-it Note (or other such similarly sized sticky note/jotting pad), from the big city to the remote countryside, night-clubs and fishing boats alike, we’re willing to bet you can source something to write on.
Why is each entry called a Canary?
We decided that each journal entry should have a name. We decided on ‘Canary’, continuing on the Post-it Note theme. Canary yellow is the still distinctive colour of the original 3x3 Post-it Notes. So 1 journal entry = 1 Canary. If you journal every day for a year you’ll have 365 canaries (that’s a lot of birds!). This is just a bit of fun, but we have found that calling them something less dry than ‘journal entry’ does encourage us to write a new Canary every day to add to the ever-growing flock in the Aviary.
Are you just trying to sell me Post-it Notes?
No, we aren’t trying to sell you anything. Not Post-it Notes. Not our own products. Honestly, this is a terrible business plan…
If anyone from Post-It is reading this, we are very much open to sponsorship opportunities!
If you want to get in touch with us feel free to do so via one of the following methods; email, Twitter, Instagram, or just yelling out of your door.
We are super excited to have Arnold Schwarzenegger working with us as our social media intern, and so if you send us a tweet or Instagram message he will get back to you as soon as he can!