At the start of the year I started trying to keep a journal, a diary of sorts; What I did, what I ate, how I felt, any special events. As with most things nowadays, I did it using an app on my tablet – something that I could just type into at the end of the day and it would save it away on a server somewhere and I could always access it no matter where I was, blackouts and end of the world excepted. It didn’t last long. My life just isn’t that interesting and using it to track any medical issues just wasn’t possible as there was no way to compare one day to the next.
Fast forward to the past month and I’ve had a bad run health wise (see last week’s post). I felt I needed to start trying to track my symptoms a bit more and see if there was any kind of correlation between fatigue, pain, headaches and migraines and how much sleep I get, what I eat, how much water I drink, if I do any exercise etc. So I bought a cheapy notebook and pen from Coles and started. I knew what kind of things I wanted to keep track of so I just started writing things down.
Then a friend of mine mentioned Bullet Journaling. It’s something I’d heard doing the rounds but hadn’t really paid much attention since my previous attempt at journaling this year went so very badly.
Then I looked into it and thought that maybe this could be the thing for me. It’s basically list based. To dos, events, appointments, tables with overviews and trackers, write things down as they happen, doesn’t need to be in a particular order. See the main bullet journal site for more.
One of the things I like about it is that it’s highly adaptive and flexible. Working in a blank notebook, you can do whatever you want to suit you; need a health tracker – add one in. Want to make a list of books to read or already read – add one in. Haven’t filled a page completely in one day – just carry on writing. There’s no limitation except how much time and money you want to put into it.
Lists suit me; I run my life by lists; my to do list at work is one of three windows that stays permanently open when I’m working along with my emails and the sales tracker. Even at home I live by lists; the shopping list, my internal to do list. But I’ve never formalised my at home to do list. And having started in the past few days, I don’t know why I haven’t before.
I’ve been more productive because I can see what things I need and want to get done and I can plan what I’m going to do and how long things are likely to take. Even adding things like “Finish reading book” to my list means that I actually do finish reading my book – in a way, I legitimise doing things I want to do on my days off, rather than feeling guilty about doing things I want to do.
I’m also holding my self accountable to certain things; making sure I eat, making sure I do physio exercises, encouraging myself to go for a walk. I’m using it to keep tabs on what MOOC modules I need to do, which are overdue and when I do them. (Although I also manage my MOOC study in Trello). I’ve got a list going of what books I’ve ready, something that is doubled up in Good Reads. Sleep tracking and exercise is doubled up in Fit Bit. But it’s quite nice to see things written down on a page in front of me.
I’ve used it a lot in the past 5 days, but then again I’ve been off work for the past 5 days, so the true test might be when I start back at work tomorrow. But it’s been a great excuse to go and spend some money on some nice stationery which I haven’t done in a while. (The notebook below is not the cheapy from Coles!)
I hope this one sticks.
Here’s a few shots of my fledgling Bullet Journal:
Bullet Journaling supplies including nice notebooks, and erasable pens – essential for someone with often illegible handwriting!
Bullet Journal all set up and working with tabs on the side for the months, and along the top for current month, week and day.
Month overview spread on two pages with mini calendar for July and two page spread for trackers.
Two page weekly spread including week overview, to dos, meal planner and “Braining” to dos (MOOC modules, blog to write, book to finish)
Daily page including to dos, medications taken, health symptoms (anything other than what’s already included in the tracker page) and anything else I’ve achieved.