Tracking this, tracking that....but what's actually useful????

Hi all, 

I hope you are all having a good week and are managing to keep your spirits up, despite today's announcement regarding tiers (if you are UK based).  I'll be completely honest and say the last few weeks have certainly been a little more challenging mental health wise for me than of late- I just seem to be very up and down.  But at least there is hopefully a light at the end of the tunnel now with this vaccine and we have Christmas on it's way so trying to keep positive!!

And this will totally sound like I'm just saying it, but when I'm feeling more anxious than usual and everything is a bit topsy turvy I definitely turn to my journal more. For me it's like that feeling you get when you make a brew (cup of tea for anyone who is not a UK northerner or from a different country altogether!) ....the act of opening the journal and writing things down just helps me get back on balance and helps me to feel like everything is ok. So that's what I have been doing alot of....mainly tracking my Christmas gift buying, my running and whether I've been having wine of an eve....best to just leave this one there haha.....(wish there was a laughing face emoji!!)

So it got me thinking about what I track each month and what I actually find useful...and on the flip side, what I've tried to track in the past and it just hasn't helped at all!! Either I've given up halfway through the month or it may have simply become a source of stress in itself....(like the empty gaps on my running tracker this month giving me all the guilty feelings!!) 

I also see alot of posts on social media from people new to journaling asking about ideas and so thought this may be useful.

First off, I track most of my chosen things monthly as that is what works for me, but obviously you can do these yearly or weekly- it's up to you.  And by far my most important and consistent tracker has to be my habits.  There are all different types of layouts you can use for tracking habits but I tend to gravitate back to one where I have mini months set out and I circle a day when I have done something.  Examples like this:

 

Personally I like this type as it's really clear to look back at and from an arty point of view, you can often make the page very pretty as there is lots of scope for design!  The downside is having to write the mini months over and over again...but you can get stamps to make life easier!!  Tuning to WHAT I track, I tend to have a few staples such as whether I've had a glass of wine that day (no comment as above!!), whether I've taken my vitamin or any meds and whether I have used my journal.  The options are endless though - this month for example I am also tracking whether I've read a book and in the past have monitored seeing friends/family, washing hair and cleaning contact lenses etc.  It's entirely up to you!!

Some other ideas for habit trackers are below.  As I say I tend to use the basic mini months layout like the ones above, but I do change it up every so often depending what I fancy...which is the joy of bullet journaling!!! 

 

I also track my mood- again I have been doing this from the start and to be honest, this has been a big learning curve as to the type of tracker which works best for me, which actually means something rather than just looking pretty!!  Unfortunately I will hold my hands up and say I have definitely fallen into the trap previously of choosing style over substance as such, as for me, I have realised I need to be able to look back and see not only what my mood was like throughout a month but WHY it changed...looking for patterns.  Otherwise for me I just don't see the point!  But obviously it is personal preference and each to their own. I have found one of the most useful to be ones like this month, where I use a highlighter or pen to simply draw a line to correspond with how I am feeling with a simple key.  

  

The other options I have tried are such as these below, where whilst perhaps arguably more aesthetically pleasing at the end, are just too hard for me to read sometimes - especially when he numbers are not consecutive so you can't easily see any patterns at all.  And I have to admit to enjoying doing coloured section ones such as the kingfisher below; I have just learned to make sure that the numbers are next to each other now so I can keep track.  With coloured trackers, I also think it's nice to have the flexibility to reflect different emotions in one day...but obviously that's personal preference again.

Consecutive days are easier to read:

From experience, whilst pretty, these trackers which were harder to interpret as the numbers were not always consecutive:

 

Other things I have tracked in the past include sleep (hours and if disturbed etc), Christmas/birthday gift lists, water, steps and cleaning.  I have also seen people track studying too but thankfully I am done with this side of things but can imagine it's useful and I wish I'd known about journaling when I was doing my degree!!!!  Also, gym routines and workouts etc seem to be popular too- just not for me haha.

Other trackers:

Water (based on 8 glasses a day)

Sleep 

Cleaning

I have to say I particularly enjoy tracking my steps....although I have stupidly included it this month and my fitbit has broken so it's not been particularly helpful!! It definitely helps keep my track though and an example is below.  I also love running and often combine this with my steps tracker, with an 'R' meaning I have run this day.  I am sure there are more sophisticated tracking options out there for running but this works for me!!!

 

I also find having gift lists particularly useful....I count this as tracking as I always have a column to say how much each item has costs etc so not only can I tell if I have finished shopping for a person, I can also keep track of my spending.  Particularly crucial when you have an enormous family like us (not that I am complaining at all- we are very lucky! But logistically it requires some planning!)  

Just to mention too - I said above that I tend to track monthly and make them part of my theme each time....but I have sometimes included trackers on my weekly layouts.  Examples are below.  I have to admit though that over the year I always have found myself coming back to monthly trackers but I know lots of journalists who do yearly or weekly ones and so it's what works best for you.

 Weekly trackers

*Inspired by @plansthatblossom (Instagram)

So I think I will leave it there for now, as I think that's enough in one go to think about!  The options really are endless though and if you want more ideas, you only need to search on pinterest and literally hundreds of ideas will pop up!! This is the joy of bullet journaling though, as you only include what you will actually use and benefit from.   And yes, some have worked for me and some haven't at all!  But it doesn't matter- who cares?!  Part of the joy is learning from your mistakes after all.  One example is when I tried to do a coloured mood tracker set up for the year (the year in pixels idea...)  My problem is that I use at least four journals a year....so whilst I am happy to nip back and update a former journal occasionally (like I do for period trackers) it just didn't work for me every day - I just didn't think it through at all so basically just gave up!  Obviously this may work for you if you only use a single journal per year, but I just prefer monthly trackers instead.

Let me know your thoughts anyway and if there are trackers you find useful which I haven't mentioned please let me know!!!  Always looking for inspiration!!

Take care and enjoy the rest of the week, 

Laura x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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