Do you have a planner at home that you’ve written in for a few weeks and then abandoned? You know, the one you bought for half price at the craft store with a crap ton of stickers and washi tape and brush pens and then never touched after January 20th? Are you convinced that you’ll just never turn yourself into an advance planner?
This is the problem I’ve had ever since the beginning of 2019, when the time came around to start using the awesome Supernatural planner from Con*Quest Journals that I preordered the second it was announced in 2018. See, I have this thing about planning: if I write something down in advance, it tends to be a guarantee that I won’t actually do the activity (unless it’s an appointment or a work shift — i.e., something with external consequences for failing to do).
Then, a couple months ago, my therapist suggested that I start keeping a daily mood log to track my ups and downs in order to better keep track of cyclical patterns. Over the past 5 years, I’ve experimented with several mood logging smartphone apps, but none of them worked well enough for me to stick with them long-term.
One morning, when I was writing about this dilemma in my journal, I looked at the half-empty Supernatural planner next to me and was suddenly hit with a brilliant idea: use the planner as my daily mood log!
After a few weeks of experimentation, during which I devoured Ryder Carroll’s book The Bullet Journal Method and collected dozens of bullet journal templates and blog posts from Pinterest, I hit upon the method that works best for me.
I’m going to teach you my method for turning a planner into a daily mood log. I can’t guarantee that it will work for you exactly as written, so please, experiment on your own and develop your own style. It’s meant as a jumping-off point, not a prescription. Feel free to take what works for you and leave the rest (and if you do develop your own template, please post a pic in the comments).
The Weekly Layout
I use the planner’s weekly layouts to do the bulk of the daily logging. I use each of the three blocks for a different purpose.
Top Block – Bullet Journal
The top block is my “bullet journal” — it’s where I put my weather icons 1 rainy days tend to tank my mood, so I like to keep track of them and bullet points of significant activities. The categories I track are:
- Morning routine items
- Errands & Chores
- Grocery shopping
- Post office runs
- Creative Work
- Work shifts
- Restaurant visits
- Outings with friends
- Phone calls/visits with family
I find that my planner has room for about 5-6 bullets per day. However, my handwriting is really small and I tend to write only 1-3 words per bullet — just enough for me to remember what the event/activity consisted of. I keep more detailed notes about the events/activities in a separate section that I’ll talk about later.
Here’s a typical day in bullet form.
Middle Block – Mood Log
The middle block is where I keep my daily mood log. On the top, I break the day into four periods and give them each a mood label and a rating on a scale of 1-10. On the bottom, I draw a visual line graph of the numerical ratings.
The four periods I track are:
- Early Morning (⬆ AM)
- Roughly 5:00-9:00 AM
- Late Morning (⬇️ AM)
- Roughly 9:00-11:59 AM
- Early Afternoon (⬆ PM)
- Roughly 12:00-5:00 PM
- Late Evening/Night (⬇ PM)
- Roughly 5:00-10:00 PM
The labels I use are sometimes actual emotions or moods like sad, happy, angry, or restless; but mostly they are feeling states like tired, down, ok, good, great, bored, or fine. I have a terrible time distinguishing emotions from feeling states or even knowing how I feel in the first place, and sometimes I genuinely feel nothing at all. That’s why I added the numerical ratings — at least they give me an idea of whether “nothing at all” is the true neutral of 5 or the more pleasant neutral of 6 or 7.
The line graph shows me the trajectory of my moods during the day. If there were big spikes between high and low, those are reflected visually, and if there was little movement either way, that’s reflected in a flatter, lower line.
Here’s an example of a typical day.
Bottom Block – Notes
The bottom block is where I keep detailed notes about the events and activities from the bullet journal and why they made me feel the feelings I recorded in the mood log. This is where I would record stressful events, things that made me abnormally happy or sad, sudden low moods with no precipitating event that I can identify, and the reasons behind higher or lower than normal numerical ratings.
Here’s a typical day of notes.
And here’s what it looks like when you put it all together. 2 and cover up your mistakes with stickers
And here’s the real-life, much messier one. (Warning: adult language)
The Monthly Calendar Layout
I use the monthly calendar spread to keep track of the general trends. I use a single up or down arrow at the bottom left corner of each day to signify whether I was mostly happy/feeling good (above 5 on the ratings scale) or low/depressed/feeling bad (at or below 5 on the ratings scale). That way, I can see how many days in a row that I was feeling mostly good or mostly bad.
Here’s an example of a significant positive trend. 3 this is an example created specifically for this post, it is not a record of that actual time period
Unfortunately, my real-life trends tend not to be that consistent.
Now It’s Your Turn!
If you do decide to give the mood logging thing a try, please drop some pics in the comments or tag me on social media. I’d love to see some other takes on this basic template. And if you find this tutorial to be helpful, please let me know!