For the past couple of years, I’ve been using a bullet journal to track all kinds of things. Work assignments and appointments, my son’s soccer games and karate classes, my workouts, even what I made for dinner. (The dinner tracking is particularly helpful whenever I find myself in a rut—spaghetti again?—because I can flip back a couple of months and rediscover a recipe that we liked and then promptly forgot about.)
I know bullet journaling itself isn’t for everyone (if you’re like, “bullet what now?,” we’ve got a good explainer here). But I’ve always preferred a physical planner over a digital calendar, and utilising different coloured pens for different topics—orange for exercise, brown for meals, blue for work assignments—has become A Simple Thing I Love. At the end of the week, I have a colourful visual representation of how I spent my time, and it can be pretty telling.
It occurred to me recently, though, that much of what I track in the journal is stuff I have to do. Phone calls I need to make, checks I need to write, places I need to be. And this year, I’ve made it a goal to do more things I want to do. Things that relax me and recharge me. Simple things, cheap things. Take more baths. Drink more tea. Read more books. Meditate more consistently. All the things I love to do that really don’t take much time but get lost in the day-to-day because they’re not expressly scheduled out. Because they’re not something I need to check off a list before my day is complete.
So I decided to start tracking my self care right alongside my work meetings and meal plans. Self care, for me, is now written down in bright pink. And the goal at the end of each week, is to see a significant amount of pink popping off the page. At least one note per day, even if it’s as simple as “went to bed early.” Wanting to write down something in pink prompts me to consider whether I’ve taken any time out of my day to think about how I feel or what I need to do to recharge.
And you don’t have to be a Type A, colour-coded bullet journaler to track your self care. You can write it in your regular weekly planner, jot it down on that free wall calendar you got from your kid’s school, or set a regular evening “self care” appointment on your Google calendar. If you live off a steady diet of to-do lists, write it down on the list. Whatever system you use to get stuff done, you can also use to stay accountable for taking care of yourself.