If you want to live a healthier lifestyle, start by getting organized.
One trend that has been taking the Pinterest-obsessed by storm is a hobby called bullet journaling. It’s a planner, a journal and a daily to-do list all rolled into one.
If you love lists, design, art, keeping track of your ideas and writing down your daily thoughts (or, if you’re terrible at it, even better), a bullet journal might be the best daily hobby to come into your life.
Here’s essentially what you can do with it:
Keep your calendar. Every day can be a new page to plan your daily to-do list and appointment book, plus long-term planning.
Set your goals! Make short term and long term to-dos to keep yourself on track.
Journal your ideas. Hack into your creativity, write your ideas, your thoughts and your feelings. A bullet journal is for rapid-paced logging. But when you have time, you can come back to do more long-form journaling when you feel inspired.
Play with pens and layouts (yay!). If you love to draw or do calligraphy (or if you want to get better), the time is now.
Personally, I was always bad at keeping a journal, but the point of bullet journaling is so short and sweet that it’s easy to keep up every day and there’s no pressure to write a ton (or even delve deep) so it’s much easier and more fun than using a regular journal.
There are a ton of pages you can put into your journal books to read, movies to see, ideas to keep track of but bullet journaling can be particularly useful when it comes to your health. And if you don’t have your health, you have nothing, right?
Here’s how to get started.
You need a journal, of course. You can choose literally anything that works for you but on Pinterest, Instagram and a lot of bullet journaling blogs, dot-grid Moleskine and Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks (hard or soft covers) are the most popular and hold up the best. I chose a hard cover Moleskine because I tend to destroy my books in my bag. Sadly, it only came in black.
Get some pens! Go nuts! I got some nice, fine tip black ink pens, some gel Gelly Roll pens (some nostalgia for you) and I use markers when I feel artsy. I’ll probably upgrade my stash when I get better at calligraphy. You don’t need to spend a ton of money at once.
Some other things to keep around (not pictured): a small ruler, white out (in case you make a mistake, it’s better than ripping pages), perhaps some small scissors, stickers and stamps for fun.
1. Start your journal at the first of a month. At the very beginning of your journal, set two pages for an index.
Number your journal pages and fill in your index as you go, but it’s to keep track of subjects. If you have several pages of weight loss goals, or work goals or books you want to read you can use your index to find them quickly. You will need to leave room for you to write your numbers in.
2. Next, set four pages for a yearly calendar. This is called your Future Log.
This is for birthdays, big events, reminders for the month, etc. You can also fill it in as you go.
3. Each month will have a monthly list of to-dos. This is your Monthly Log.
You can also use a habit tracker. More on this below. Your Monthly Log can be larger goals and to-dos for the month that your daily to-do’s can feed into..
4. As mentioned, each day, you can do a daily log, which is a daily list of things you need to do or ideas your observe on that day.
This can go anywhere, as you write in your journal daily. You can play with the layout, jot down ideas, to-dos, goals for the day, random thoughts or feelings, etc. There are lots of ideas about how to use your journal daily on Pinterest and Instagram.
5. Set up a space at the back or beginning of your journal that will be a key for symbols your use in your to-do list.
You won’t be crossing things off your list, just putting them into new lists and adding symbols to signify what stage you’re on with the item on the list
All of this is well and good, but you might be wondering about practicality. How does journaling effect your health? Keeping a mind-body balance can have a number of positive effects in real life. You can focus on number of areas:
Fitness and/or weight loss
Managing an illness
Or just general self-care. There are many health areas you can track, organize and manage your goals by keeping a journal.
Now that you’re all set up, here are a couple layouts to include to keep track of your health:
1. Habit tracker
There are tons of different layouts online for how to make one of these, but the simplest is by filling your journal out, height-wise, every-day, like a chart.
Mark every day of the month on the top. Then, on the left-hand margin, list all the health-related habits you would like to track every day.
You can track everything: your moods, your eating habits, chronic illness symptoms, workouts, period days, sleep and so on. Finding correlation between certain habits can be incredibly helpful to making positive changes where you need them.
2. Weight and Fitness Tracker
Do you have a fitness goal but no FitBit? If you’re trying to achieve a physical goal like weight loss or number of push-ups or compete in a triathlon, you can track your progress in your journal. Use your pages like a game. One great idea is to lay out your page like stepping stones with several squares on a page that represent a step towards your goal.
For example, if you want to be able to do 100 push-ups, draw 25 squares on a page. Each square has a different number, counting up to 100. Color in each square as you progress up to being able to do 100 push ups, and that way you can see your progress. It’s like a satisfying pay-off.
3. Meal plan for the week
Meal planning is a great idea for managing a food budget and assisting with anyone who wants to eat a little healthier during the week. Plus, you can play with layouts to get creative as well as thinking about what you want to eat for the week.
4. Grocery list
Once you’re done with meal planning, use your journal to plan a well organized grocery list. It not only helps you think about what you’re buying, but also organizing by category making the trip to the grocery store painless since you’re grabbing your items in bunches.
5. Think about sleep
In a way, journaling itself is a sleep aid. The analog time away from TV and phones can be relaxing so you can think of other, healthy ways to help yourself sleep. One page you can include is a short “to-do” list of ways to help you sleep. Revisit it any time you’re having trouble catching some zzzzs.
6. Sleep tracker
Even though you may already have a habit tracker, if you have a particular problem with sleep, use a page to visualize your sleep. Use bars to graph your sleep hours every day. You can even indicate the quality of sleep by writing in how you felt in the morning, or simply writing a smiley face by each bar for the day.
7. Mood tracker
Keep track of your moods every day in the same way you track your habits, or use a more minimal format using simple emoji.
8. Goal setting
It’s important to use your journal for goals as well as daily to-do lists. While you’re making monthly and daily logs, you can also use your pages for specific, subject based logs as well. In terms of health, make some goals for your body and your mind in the long term (for the next month or the rest of the year, even). Then, on other pages, you can come back to keep track of how you’re doing on achieving those goals.
Remember that you can customize your journal to fit your lifestyle. There are plenty of ideas online for designs, doodles, layouts and challenges to make your journal fun, interesting and useful to you.