Suggestions for Checklist Journaling?
February 2, 2017 12:08 PM   Subscribe

I used to write in my journal every day, without fail. I haven't since last year, when my mother entered the hospital. I would like to re-establish journaling as a daily practice. I've looked around for ideas, but all I'm seeing are journal prompts (not what I'm looking for) and ideas that are for organization (bullet point journals).

At the suggestion of a mental health care provider, I tried just writing down the date, then adding a few phrases, and so on, to rebuild the habit.

This really hasn't worked for me; I feel the urge to include more information, and a few phrases aren't enough. Yet, writing a full entry seems impossible to me right now.

I've decided I need to create a checklist form, where I can simply check off one option from several.

For example, I plan to have a checkable list for weather: sunny, partly sunny, cloudy, rainy, snowy...places I went: grocery store, library, park...maybe which meals I ate. Or even which colors I wore. I also plan to have spaces for 'other', to be filled in with a word or two.

I need help thinking of other, less concrete areas to list.

Health, mental health, sure, but I don't know how to break those down into a checklist. I don't want to go too broad, but I don't want to get nitpicky, either.

When I was writing full diary entries, I made sure to note what I had done, anything interested that had happened that day, frustrations, problems, reactions and feelings, a lot of stuff about my cats.

I use journaling as reflection, keeping track of my mental health, and sort of a record of the day.

Not sure how to break that down into useful lists.

posted by Archipelago to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Bullet journaling is actually super customizable. I use mine as both a task list and for creative journaling. I think that the key to the bullet journal is the index that you write as you go, for example, I'll have a Weekly Log which is mostly tasks, etc, but then on the next page I'll have a spread for poetry fragments, or novel ideas, or reflections on various topics. So to me it's really an all in one thing, and you could definitely customize it further.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 12:34 PM on February 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

mood, hydration, menstrual cycle, media consumed (books, films, music, tv), financial (atm transactions, savings goals, expense lists, credit charges), clothes or jewellery worn, communication (friends called or emailed, post services), strangers talked to, how many days in a row you've kept to your journal, words or websites to look up/visit, jokes, poetry, quotations, or aphorisms, places to go, inspiration for photos or places to visit, a top-10-a-day (pizza toppings, desert island books, whatever).
posted by maya at 12:40 PM on February 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Traffic/commute, birds at the feeder, new jokes -- pretty much the same topics you would use to make conversation before a meeting starts.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:51 PM on February 2, 2017

Some ideas for check lists.

Mood. Happy/Sad/pensive/introspective/quiet/angry etc
Influences on mood. External/internal
keep a short 3 point list of things you are grateful for every day. Can even be one word if that's what it takes.
Hours of sleep.
List the food you ate even if only roughly.
List things you achieved during the day. It's great focusing on what you did do not what you didn't do.
How many I love You's you said during the day. In words or deeds.
How many acts of self care did you perform today?
Something you want to make a habit like say flossing.

If you can't think of anything to write cut or print out pictures, poems, articles, comics, cartoons, tweets etc that interest you or make you happy or whatever & stick them in to inspire you.

Word of the day/week/month. Not a word to learn so much as a word to inspire (though feel free to make it a word to learn if you'd rather it's your journal). For example my word for this year is caring. To me it means working on self care mental & physical, relationships, caring about what is happening. My word for the month is movement. So I am focusing on exercise & figuring out what I can do to help my preferred political movements. Your words will of course be ones that are meaningful to you, but I find it helps me focus my goals.
posted by wwax at 12:51 PM on February 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

How about bubbles?
David Seah designed The Day Grid Balancer form to track his daily actions related to his desired life priorities:
More info on his life balance grid.
posted by calgirl at 12:53 PM on February 2, 2017 [4 favorites]

Local wildlife -- the nest the robin is building, the squirrels reacting to the new feeder, more sightings of geese.
Changes in nature, the order that gardens start to bloom.
posted by mochapickle at 1:05 PM on February 2, 2017

A lot of these suggestions are things the OP would have to write out every day, not checkboxes where they'd just mark a box, which I think is what the OP is asking for.


Mental heath-wise, in CBT there's an exercise where you just check off how happy/sad you feel on a scale of 1-5 or 1-10.

You could do household chores like ran the dishwasher, did a load of laundry, etc, but that may or may not feel depressing if you're not regularly doing those things and you feel bad about it.

I personally find lists and checklists very helpful in managing my life (as opposed to recording it) as I have some executive dysfunction going on, so I have a daily checklist that goes like:

Morning - Up, Teeth, Make Bed, Moisturize, Makeup, Dress, Breakfast/Coffee, Pills, Phone/Keys/Wallet, Leave

Home from work - Home, Put Stuff Away, Change, Dinner, Dishes

Evening - Pack Lunch, Choose Outfit, Teeth, Shower, Moisturize, Tidy Room, Bed

For Up, Leave, Home, and Bed, I record the time, everything else I just check off (or don't).

It helps me remember to do things because I have trouble keeping up a routine without these reminders, but it also helps me track my mental health, because if I notice that for several days running I've been staying up super late or not making my bed or showering or whatever, then I know something's off. These lists may be way longer than you're interested in, but it helps me, so I thought I'd mention it.

You could also do a list like this, but for self-care things - whatever you like to do, like take a bath, read a book, cook something, etc.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:11 PM on February 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have a five year sentence a day journal with just enough space for about two sentences per day. It really cuts down the expectation to write more. Because you couldn't if you wanted to.
posted by athirstforsalt at 2:34 PM on February 2, 2017 [4 favorites]

A lot of folks who keep bullet journals will make a habit tracker that will just give you a binary "yes/no" if you did or didn't do a thing that day. Something like that could be a little easier for tracking certain types of daily tasks than trying to come up with some kind of scale or range.

Some of the things I have in mine are:
-Used sunscreen
-Up by 7am (9am on weekends)
-Took vitamins
-Ate breakfast
-Actually used habit tracker (ha)
-Worked out
-Drank a glass of water
-Didn't spend money
-Didn't mess with fingernails
-No alcohol
-Screens off by 10pm
-Evening skin care
-In bed by 11pm
-Read for fun

You could also add in things pertaining to goals or priorities you want to accomplish (drew a picture, rode bike, etc.) or even smaller steps (left the house, put on pants, etc.) as it makes sense to you. You may want to keep separate pages for daily "did this/did that" things that won't fit into the tracker, but that is up to you. Good luck!
posted by helloimjennsco at 9:11 AM on February 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

« Older My screen cracked. 6S or 7?   |   Shoot to Wound Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.