The bullet journal, tagged with the somewhat endearing hashtag #bujo, is another growth hacking trend popularized on Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube. Across social media people are sharing photos of their colorful and artfully designed journals.
So what is a bullet journal (or BuJo) and how can you use it for better health? At it’s core, it is simply a notebook turned into a planner. In recent years there has been an explosion in the personal planner market — there are more “systems” and expensive/exclusive planners and sticker systems than I can count, so there’s likely one that will work for you. But central to all these products is the simple (once you learn it) practice of “rapid logging” by hand.
Going Analog: “Track the Past, Order the Future”
There is something to be said for writing things down, rather than just typing them into a computer. It’s easier to remember them. There’s even research about how writing is more effective than typing for committing things to memory.
But more than simply writing down to-do lists, there is a structure to the concept of bullet journaling that makes it useful for organizing all aspects of your life.
Personalizing Your Bullet Journal: Finding a System That Works for You
Now, I’m not one to spend $100 on a planner. Or to be stuck in someone else’s system. That’s what makes a bullet journal so perfect. It’s flexible. It’s what I need it to be. Your bullet journal and my bullet journal are going to be very different. We can use any notebook that we like — it doesn’t have to be fancy and you don’t need to compete with the #bujo stars on Instagram.
Using a Bullet Journal for Your Health Journey
As I said, bullet journals are a basic structure for organizing your life. Ultimately, it makes it easier to manage all the things so that you can (hopefully) do more and do more better. Here are four ways I’ve found a bullet journal can help me stay sane and keep it all together.
Health trackers are a popular way to use a bullet journal for health. Many people use them to track their weight loss with weekly weigh-ins. Others use them to track pain scores/migraines or allergy severity so they can accurately report back to their doctors.
When you’re having trouble sleeping, changing your bedtime routine or taking a supplement can help, but if you need to know if it is working, you can keep a tracker in your bullet journal about how well or how long you sleep each night.
You can even use them to help you break habits or create new ones by giving yourself a place to see just how much progress you’ve made.
Sometimes you don’t need a tracker, but a place to simply keep a list of your health goals. Writing things down can make them feel more permanent. And by keeping a list, you can go back and add or adjust your goals to keep them realistic. A bullet journal’s setup makes it easy to look back on where you want to be and see how far you’ve come.
Questions for your doctor
Most people don’t see doctors more than once or twice a year (or maybe for a really terrible flu). Creating a page where you can keep a running list of questions that have popped into your head for your doctor helps both for those questions that pop up between visits, but also it can help you focus your appointment to get answers to specific questions when you go in for an acute visit.
A micro journal
Journaling is great for mindfulness and keeping track of what’s happening in your life. By taking a few minutes every day to write a sentence or two about notable events of the day, you are creating a record both for yourself and that you can reference in the event of a health crisis. When your doctor asks what was going on in your life three months ago, you will have an easy place to go and look.
Get Started: Track a Healthy Habit
So I hope these examples serve as some inspiration in how you can use a bullet journal to achieve your personal wellness goals. Here’s a trick to get started: pick one small, healthy habit to adopt this week. It could be as simple as going to bed 15 minutes earlier or eating one extra vegetable a day. Track it in your new journal. At the end of the week, review your progress. If you met your goals, reward yourself! (And track that in your journal, too!).
Mary Fran Wiley is a well known gluten-free and positive living blogger from Chicago where she writes Curiouser and Curiouser, maintains the Chronic Positivity Project, and has been featured in Allergic Living Magazine, Care2.com and Today.com.