Journal like a Monk: My Thoughts on Using the “Monk Manual” for 2 Weeks. [Updated w/ Discount Code!]

ballpen blank desk journal
Photo by Jessica Lewis on


If you want to grab some Monk Manual gear and get 15% off (excluding bulk/subscription sales), then CLICK THIS LINK RIGHT HERE before midnight tomorrow (12/29/2021) to grab this discount. You’ll be doing your future self a favor and helping me out in the process! 

Okay, now on to the actual review.


[June 2020 Update: Full review of the entire journal available here!]

If you do much reading about productivity or personal/spiritual growth, keeping a journal or day-planner is often recommended for daily practice. Whether it’s bounded by 5-minute timeframes, uses bullets, helps you Get Things Done, or just records your prayers or Bible-reading insights, the practice of reflection and record-keeping can be very rewarding. So I was intrigued when I heard about the Monk Manual.

Let’s go ahead and address the name: Monk Manual?

Immediately, my suspicious mind asked, “What kind of monk?” Was this journal coming from a specific religious background? Would it lead the user into certain religious practices? The answer, as far as I have seen, is no–or at least, not necessarily. I get the sense that the creator of the journal, Steven Lawson (not that Steve Lawson), has in mind some sort of mystical monk tradition (and some of the language under the “Grow in” tab of the website sounds a bit New-Agey), but the journal itself reads much more generally than that. The daily and weekly pages I’ve used do not point to any specific religious practice, either, beyond giving a space to record “what God is teaching me” or “what I’m thankful for.” Folks like me who try to be discerning about spiritual subtext and teaching can rest easy, as far as I’m aware.

The designer’s idea here is to follow some of the reflective practices used by monks and apply them to a productivity and planning context. But (at least in terms of the daily and weekly pages) they aren’t presented in a way that encourages specific religious ideas or habits. The user would have to bring that to the table, in this context.

So what’s a Monk Manual? Will it train me to be a monk?

The Monk Manual is a journal/planner system based on the idea of the PAR Method (Prepare, Act, Reflect). However, instead of focusing solely on accomplishment of tasks, the Monk Manual points the user to some bigger-picture questions, like recognizing blessings, thinking about relationships, and considering how they are really doing internally.

I admit, writing it out that way sounds a bit hokey, but it’s actually pretty refreshing. There’s still an element of GTD in the Monk Manual, and it can be useful in that regard. But the journal is designed to help you step back a bit and think about who you are as much as what you do, which may be beneficial for those who are results-driven or who feel guilty for not doing enough in general.

The Monk Manual is divided into 3 sections: daily pages, weekly pages, and monthly pages. I have not seen the monthly pages yet, but I used the daily and weekly pages for two weeks, with only a day and a half missed–that itself being a minor miracle. Consistency in anything new is a struggle for me.

Taking Time to Reflect.

I found the daily and weekly pages to be a helpful and encouraging exercise because it encouraged me to consider not only what I was doing, but why. Merely the act of assigning a goal-habit and a theme for each week helped to reframe my actions and some of my decisions, so that I was able to look back on them in a slightly-different way.

The act of reflecting at the end of the day is a helpful practice that I don’t do often enough. Some of the end-of-day questions include writing down highlights of the day, times you were “at your best,” and times when you felt uneasy. Taking a few moments to consider my emotions/reactions helped me put some things in context and recognize how certain choices led to consequences I didn’t like. As someone who doesn’t really journal at all, doing that was a benefit that I want to keep going.

When it comes to spiritual matters, you get out of this journal what you put into it. As stated above, there are some vaguely spiritual prompts that a Christian can easily apply in their own worldview without concerns of syncretism. I was able to consider and track some of my personal spiritual disciplines in this journal in an effective way.

Final Thoughts: Like Any Tool, It’s Up to You to Use It.

That’s really what it comes down to: if you decide to use this tool to help improve your day-to-day life and keep you focused, it could be helpful–but it won’t “fix” you and it won’t do the work for you. There are no magical powers in the Monk Manual, and other than providing prompts for consideration, it’s paper and ink just like any other notebook. (Point of fact, I didn’t even use the actual journal that’s for sale–I printed out the free pages and popped those into a folder!)

Would I recommend using the Monk Manual? Sure, if you are interested in trying out a new type of journal and don’t already practice that daily reflection piece. If nothing else, it could encourage you develop a habit of taking a few moments to think about the day, plan for tomorrow, and pray for God’s grace in accomplishing what He’s set before you. That could be a help to you.

Here’s My Pitch

You can try the daily pages of the Monk Journal for free (as a downloadable PDF) from their website by signing up for their email list on the website.

If you use my unique URL to do so, it could help me out by unlocking more freebies for me.

Thanks to a couple of folks who used my link via Twitter, I was able to “unlock” the weekly pages. If a few more folks use my link to sign up, I can “unlock” the monthly pages (and possibly even get a free journal myself!).

So, I’ll make a deal with you: If this sounds interesting, and you don’t mind signing up for MM’s mailing list and getting the free daily pages, once I hit the benchmark needed to get access to the monthly pages, I’ll check those out and then write a follow-up post to let you know what I think of them. Fair enough? You get to check out the daily pages, and you help me get to try out the monthly pages.

Once again, if you’d like to check the daily pages out for yourself, and help me get access to more stuff in the process, use this link to join the MM email list.

I hope it is a benefit to you. Please come back and let me know if you try it out.


12/28/2021 Update #3: End-of-Year Sale through tomorrow (12/29)!

Hey y’all! 

If you use my code “DAVEM” today and tomorrow (12/28 and 12/29), you will get 15% off ALL Monk Manual products (excluding bulk sales or subscriptions). That’s CRAZY GOOD.

Go to Monk Manual using THIS LINK RIGHT HERE, buy some great materials to get your 2022 kicked off right, and help me out in the process. Thanks in advance!



Older Updates below…

11/30/2019 Update #1:

You beautiful lunatics. Somehow, out of nowhere, this post has become my most popular post of the year (upwards of 250-300 views in 2 months!). I hit the “free monthly” pages pretty quickly and then enough of you signed up to push me right through to the “free journal” tier.

Thank you. Sincerely. Thank you for reading and signing up. If you have been using the pages, I would love to hear what you think in the comments.

Thank you, Steve Lawson and Monk Manual. This is a cool program, and I appreciate the beautiful journal and top-notch packaging. (Like a dope, I didn’t take pics of the cool packaging. It was nice–no skimping here. That says a lot.)

I’m going to start using this beauty tomorrow. And I will most definitely report back.

Again, thank you all. Have a happy (belated) Thanksgiving, and I’ll see you soon.

01/28/2020 Update #2:

Hey friends! I have great news!

Your response to this post has been so amazing that I reached out to the Monk Manual team about it.

Thanks to their generosity, I have been given an affiliate link from Monk Manual, so that if you use my special code DAVEM when you check out, you’ll get 10% off your entire Monk Manual order, and I’ll get a small percentage of the sale as well! That’s definitely a win-win!

So if you’re ready to check out the full Monk Manual for yourself, just click on this link and use my special offer code DAVEM on the checkout page for 10% off (and help me out as well)!

I’ll have my review of the physical Monk Manual coming up next week. In the meantime, thank you so, so much for reading, and have a great day!

06/14/2020 Update!

Okay, it only took me 6 months (hey, you’ve been on this roller coaster of a year with me, right?), but my full review of the Monk Manual journal is here. If you’ve made it this far, I’m sure you’re interested.

PLUS, the folks over at MM have re-upped my affliliate code, so you can still get that discount! Check it out!


15 thoughts on “Journal like a Monk: My Thoughts on Using the “Monk Manual” for 2 Weeks. [Updated w/ Discount Code!]

  1. WOW. Just like that, someone signed up, and I got the monthly pages. Awesome! Thanks, y’all. I’ll let you know what I think soon.

    Sincerely, if you decide to check out this journal, I hope it helps you. My goal in all things is to help point you to Jesus and follow Him better. I don’t want to recommend anything that would distract from that, so I hope that if you’re interested in this tool, it will serve to support and encourage you to that end.

  2. Dave, This is Steve from the Monk Manual. Just wanted to take a moment to thank you for taking the time to use the Monk Manual + write this review. I appreciate how honestly you’ve approached it, and I hope you find it to be a useful tool for you in the future. Take care. – Steve

    1. Hey Steve! Thanks for taking the time to comment. I look forward to adding the monthly pages to my next round of using the journal. Thanks for putting this together. Like I said, it was helpful for me. Take care!

  3. Morning! I got an ad for the Monk Manual (strange how my social media feeds are full of ads for fountain pens and journals!) last night, and found your blog post – I can’t find a follow up post (past the updates here) – are you still using it? I’d like to hear more before I commit and pull the trigger (and try to coerce my wife into doing it, too!). Thanks! Interesting blog as well – adding to my rotation of sporadic online reading 🙂

    Blessings & Peace,

    1. Hey Hugo! Thanks for commenting. Hopefully you will enjoy sporadically reading my blog (and hopefully I will update it more than sporadically!) Yep, I’ve been meaning to get around to an update post. Thanks for the nudge. I’ll try to get that out soon. (Here’s the preview: the physical journal is really nice to use, and pretty well made! The “downside” is it doesn’t magically give me super organization powers. As I said before, you get out of it what you put into it. But I have really enjoyed using it. More to come soon-ish!)

    1. Hi Alka! First, thanks for reading! I can only provide the link to the daily pages. But if you follow the instructions on the website, you can get monthly pages sent to you if you can get others to sign up for the daily pages.

      I’m also going to post an updated review of the full physical journal in the coming week, so keep an eye out for that! Thanks again!

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