Skinnyhobbit was recently asking about my bullet journalling setup, and now I’m finally getting around to writing about it.
I’ve journalled off and on since I was a kid. I didn’t journal every day, just when I felt like I had something to say, and it was basic narrative style. I kept my old journals for years, and then chucked them all because I didn’t want anyone finding them post-suicide.
A couple of years ago, I learned about the bullet journalling phenomenon from fellow bloggers. I read (and reviewed) Ryder Carroll’s The Bullet Journal Method, i.e. the original Bullet Journal®. I’ve seen loads of bullet journalling pins on Pinterest, and quite a few blog posts on the topic.
As time has gone on, I’ve figured out what works for me and what doesn’t, and I’ve come up with a system that’s a pretty well-oiled machine. Part of that has been coming up with my own little mini-code that makes it easy to capture things without having to do much writing.
For each month, I have a one page as an overview of the month, laid out calendar-style. There’s a mood tracker page, also laid out as a calendar. For each day, I do a rating and note done the most prominent emotions for the day. I have an emotions list that’s letter and colour-coded, so I can pack a lot into my mood tracker without taking up a lot of space.
There’s a two-page spread for my monthly tracker, which is colour-coded into the categories of activities, mental health symptoms, physical symptoms, and other factors. The table below shows the basic idea of it. Some things get a check if they happened, other things get up to 4 + signs to indicate intensity, and other things have letter codes. For example, under GI symptoms in the table below, C is cramps and B is bloating. Even more so than the mood tracker, I can cram a ton of information into a small area, and it’s really easy to see what happened when during the month.
|GI symptoms||C B|
This is especially helpful because my memory is crap. Do I know how many migraines have I’ve had in the last year? Not a clue, but after a 10-second flip through my journal I could tell you, and also tell you if they coincided with my periods.
I also keep a gratitude log for the month, and devote half a page to an overview of each week, which also happens to be what I use to write my weekly wrap-ups here on the blog.
I have separate notebook is devoted to all my health info and history, but I also keep track of things like doctor visits and med changes in my bullet journal. When I started a couple years ago, I had various themed pages that I would add to throughout the year with quotes, interesting things I’d seen in nature, things that made me smile, and assorted other things. I’ve stopped doing that; it wasn’t really intentional, but it just required thinking that wasn’t happening.
The odd time I’ll do narrative entries, but I don’t normally have enough going on in my head to feel any need to spew it out in my journal.
I make notes in my bullet journal every day. Part of my automatic routine when I first get up in the morning is sticking my journal on my bed, so I can’t forget to do it. It takes less than 5 minutes a day.
So there it is, my bullet journalling setup. Do you journal at all? What’s your approach?
This how-to guide on Creating a Bullet Journal to Support Mental Health is available free from the MH@H Download Centre. My approach isn’t about artistry; it’s all about functionality.