goal setting, habit tracking, Healthy Habits

Using Habit & Lifestyle Trackers in Your Bullet Journal – How, What, and Why

Some of the questions I see over and over in online Bullet Journal groups and forums all have to do with habit, mood, sleep, and general lifestyle tracking in your Bullet Journal.  Common questions that are asked on a near daily basis are, “What do you track?”, “How do you track it?”, “Why/What benefit is there to tracking?”, and “Where do I start?”  I thought that it might be helpful today to talk about the things you might track, and to try and answer those questions

So, let’s start with the what.  What do you track?  Simply put, you track anything that you want to make, or break, as a habit, or try to see a pattern in. Let’s start with the most common, habit tracking. Habit tracking is a way to make and keep good habits, but also to see where you need improvement.  I know of some people who, when they started out, would track how often they engaged in a habit they wanted to break like watching too much TV or drinking too much soda or alcohol, so they could see their own patterns before making the final decision to work on breaking those habits.

As for me, I use habit tracking to make, ingrain, and keep good habits going.  You may recall from the July Plan With Me post that I had gotten my own habit tracker all set up and ready to go, and I track a variety of things on a monthly basis.  I set up my tracker to be an all-in-one, but I’ll get to that more in a bit.

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If you want to start tracking habits but aren’t sure that you can find the time to create a tracker, fear not!  If you don’t want to buy one, there are a TON of habit tracking templates you can review and download for free on Google.

Another commonly tracked item is mood.  I’ve seen everything from Mood Mandalas (which I kept for a while myself, as you can see below) to flowers to honeycombs to a basic grid like my own in the “consolidated tracker”.  The idea is that you assign each of your basic moods a colour, and then fill in your tracker with the colour each day.  When I was doing the Mood Mandala, I had to assign an overall mood for the whole day which wasn’t always easy – I might have been stressed and cranky at work in the morning and happy and content in the evening.  I tended to go with the most dominant mood of the day, but I have been loving the basic Mood Pixels on my Boho Berry Monthly Trackers.  The day is divided into AM and PM which I love, and it’s simple and no time at all to fill in.  If you are inclined to use the Mood Mandala (these pictures show the evolution of one over time from last April), you can download the template from the Boho Berry Tribe Resources Library – but you do have to be a Tribe member to gain access (it’s free!).  And just from re-visiting these images, I can see that I had quite a few good days last April (2017), but a LOT of stressful ones too.

One of the other trackers that featured prominently in my Bullet Journal for a while was the sleep tracker.  Some of you may have noticed that I excluded it from July’s set up – and I don’t know that I’ll be adding it back in, but again, more on that in a bit.  Nevertheless, a good night’s sleep is conducive to good health, healing, and lowering stress.  If you want to see where you actually stand with sleep, it’s helpful to track it.  This was my standard tracker for some time.  I simplified it some, but as noted, I’ve removed it altogether now.

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I’ve also seen spreads that track reading logs, movie and TV show logs, letter writing logs, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) progress, art projects, and so on.  Let’s face it – the sky’s the limit with what you can track, and how you choose to set up your trackers.

But…why track?  Well, research has shown that it takes approximately 66 days (not the widely touted and scientifically refuted 21 days) to form a habit.  Of course, individual results may vary (as this article notes, some developed habits in as little as 18 days and for others, it took the better part of a year before a habit was formed).  Everything from making time to be creative to sleep hygiene can be considered, in it’s own way, a habit, and a habit is essentially defined as an act or action that is becomes automatic, like brushing your teeth each morning.  For many of us, tracking tasks or actions that we want to make into habit is a core accountability exercise.

I can’t speak for everyone else, but I will speak for my own habit tracker now.  As you can see above, it’s combined with my mood and Fibromyalgia pain trackers.  I do this because it gives me a better overview on how my actions (or lack thereof) affect both my mood and pain levels, and it continues to give me a visual push to keep going.  I mentioned in a previous post that one of my habits tracked for several months was not hitting snooze.  I eliminated that line last month because it’s automatic now – I don’t hit snooze when my alarm goes off.  Essentially, when I have a few months of consistently filled boxes for a particular line item, and I know that the task or action is automatic, I remove it from my habit tracker.

I also track my workouts as you can see in the July Plan With Me post.  I like to keep a log of what I’ve done and when I’ve had a month where I haven’t even filled a page, I can reflect on what was going on and build more time for the following month.  Well, in theory anyway.  It doesn’t always work like that because honestly, working out is not an automatic response for me yet.

So why did I stop tracking my sleep?  Well, unlike habit tracking which is an exercise in building and maintaining healthy habits, I used my sleep tracker as part of that general overview – how does sleep, or lack thereof, affect my pain level and mood, and what can I do to improve it?  After tracking my sleep for over a year, I realized that nothing has really changed.  I know what I can expect from my FitBit sleep log and there’s no point in continuing to track it in my Bullet Journal.  The general statistics don’t change much, so why continue tracking it on paper?

Finally, I decided to move my FitBit trackers over into the Year in Pixels format.  The goal here is to get a whole year at a glance, and then see where and what can be improved for next year!

The bottom line with any habit or lifestyle trackers is that you track what best suits you in a way that feels right.  Remember, there are no right or wrong ways to track things in your Bullet Journal, and there’s nothing wrong with being minimalist in your tracking either!

But if you want to make and establish good habits, tracking them is an excellent form of accountability to reaching those goals!  So what do you track, and what kind of trackers do you like to use?  Share with us in the comments below!

Stay tuned for the next post – August’s Plan With Me!

Disclaimer:  I receive NOTHING if you click on any of the links in this post.  They are shared purely to show you what I use and to give you a reference point for purchase.  I am not paid or sponsored by any entity or corporation.

 

3 thoughts on “Using Habit & Lifestyle Trackers in Your Bullet Journal – How, What, and Why”

  1. I love the idea of a bullet journal and just tried my hand at my first attempt not long ago (maybe a week or two ago). I want to create a chore wheel / to do to keep me on track so that I’m not devoting an entire day to cleaning up and organizing, etc. And I want to create one for workouts / runs.

    I find that my hang up with the BUJO, in general, is that I don’t feel I’m creative enough for it. I see all of the beautiful layouts and designs, and where I cannot draw, and for the most part, loathe my penmanship, I can’t seem to get over that hurdle. I thought throwing myself into it would help, but after a week, it’s messy – I may have packed too much into a day. Needless to say, I tracked for about 4 days, and I’ve since stopped, but it is something I’d like to adopt and stick with. Any tips and suggestions for overcoming the “it’s not good enough” hurdle / thought process?

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    1. Honestly, my first Bullet Journal was a mess too. I watched a LOT of YouTube for inspiration and over time, I found what works for me. I’ll never be super creative with mine like I see some people’s, but slowing down, taking your time to create pages, spreads, and layouts that will inspire you (even if they’re minimal!) and making it a habit no matter how unhappy you may be with a page are key things to get you into it. Also, I’m a perfectionist. Using the Bullet Journal helped me to embrace my mistakes and not let an errant line or mistake get the best of me.

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