Gratitude Wednesday

Standard Issue Notebook with a Stabilo Pointball M 0.5/picture AdS

We all know the calls that we get when we are due for a yearly physical or, as I call it, yearly maintenance. You show up, chat with the nurses, see the doc who then asks you how you’ve been the past year. My standard answer: ‘OK, I guess.’

A good doctor digs further to ensure that we are not missing anything in preventive care or injuries that might linger too long. Often, I walk out of the building only to realize later on at home that I had a bunch of questions such as lowering a dose, trying a new prescription, possible side-effects, or that I had started a supplement regime, needed a referral, etc.

To make sure that I get the most out of these yearly physicals, I started a health journal. Nothing fancy, it is a simple notebook. I write the Month at the top of the page and every day I jot down a few words about my health. How do I feel? Fever? How high? Did any food make my stomach upset? Any patterns? How well did I sleep? Any sport’s injuries that linger? Any sudden weight gain or loss? Vision ok?

It is really a very basic thing, one line on most days. Then, at the end of the month, I write a quick summary. How was this month’s sleep compared to last month? More or less stress? Any life changes or news that got me jumpy? If changes were stress related, did I cause my own stress or was it based in worries over another person? Did I take more OTC meds one month than before? Did I exercise enough?

Doing this has made it easier to answer the doc’s questions especially regarding regularity of my periods, the changes with menopause, weight gain or loss after new prescription medications, side-effects, pain that is weather related, and suggestions for life changes and nutrition. It ensures I ask the questions I had during the past few months and I have pen & paper to write down the doc’s answers.

So this week, my gratitude shout-out goes to my health journal!

When did bullet journaling become a thing?


When I saw Pam’s post, it made me think. I quote Pam: “Ryder Carroll might have coined the phrase Bullet Journal and trademarked the name, but he didn’t invent the concept of keeping a notebook to contain and organize your life.

That is true.

Long, long time ago, we used leather books called organizers. They had rings and every year you bought the complete refill.

That refill came with preprinted information pages, a diary, a yearly calendar, and more. One of my first ones was from Succes. It became too small too soon so I upgraded to Filofax. I even got a Franklin Covey.

What those books have in common is that you keep all your information organized with tabs, everything in one book, and information is sorted by section. The first Succes and Filofax that I had came with tabs that were already a kind of bullet journal system.

I remember the grey and beige marbled tabs from Filofax and Succes. They were labeled index, year, month, week, and notes. Behind the yearly tab were separate sections with the names of the months. Behind the address tab was a set with the alphabet and numbers. I wish that I still had those very first sets. If I can find them, I will add pictures to this post.

Anyway, there are so many methods to organize your life. Most are older than the bullet journal method and probably all methods mimic parts of another system. The real question then is not which system is best (or most popular) but, with all these options, have you been able to find one that works for you?

I use a preprinted Leuchtturm1917 weekly calendar right now as I never got the hang of the bullet journal method. Carrying over information and preparing monthly and weekly spreads all seems time-consuming to me. All leather books I mentioned serve their purpose now for research projects.

I have always had one separate journal for all long-term to-do lists with things such as outdoor maintenance, renew bi-annual subscriptions, or travel spots. Anything that is a chore within a yearly timeframe, is put on the yearly calendar. If anything has to be done within the coming month, it goes on a list (just scrap paper) that I keep on my desk. Every morning, I check. What needs to be done now and what can I get done today? That’s my daily task list. This system has no name but it has kept me organized for decades now.

Do you have a specific organizational method to keep your life, work, studies, etc., running smoothly?