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Take Five Minutes

The Benefits of Bullet Journaling

Written by Samantha Lund

Five minutes is all you need to give the newest mental health craze a try. You have five minutes, right? Look at your morning routine. While waiting for coffee to brew, or in between checking Instagram and reading an appealing news headline, you can find five minutes every day for a morning ritual that readies you for the day ahead.

Try bullet journaling.

What is Bullet Journaling?

This isn’t the 1990s “Dear Diary” journaling we know from movie narrations like Clueless; rather it’s a five-minute mental health practice that psychologists swear by.

A bullet journal is an analog system done by hand. The practice is meant to organize your mind, keep track of the past and present tasks, and plan for the future. Throw out your planner, nutrition tracker, diary and workout notebook because a bullet journal holds them all.

A classic bullet journal has four parts: an index, collections
(lists, notes, drawings, long-term plans, calendars), rapid logging (a quick rendering of a to-do list) and migration (moving tasks
or events from one section to another, e.g., a task to do into a “done” list).

What are the benefits?

Of course, a bullet journal can take any form that the user prefers. That’s why psychologists have grown to appreciate the practice; it’s easy for people to customize their journal in appearance, use and time spent.

In 2013, Alex Ikonn and U. J. Ramdas created the “Five-Minute Journal,” which evolved long-form journaling practices into five questions about gratitude and reflection. The user writes for five minutes first thing in the morning and right before bed.

In their introduction to the practice, Ikonn explains the “Five-Minute Journal” as a “toothbrush for your mind.” Reflection and preparation prime your brain to see life in a more positive way,
he explains.

Besides encouraging a more positive mind-set, bullet journals improve memory, ease anxiety, help you sleep better, lessen depression and increase leadership skills.

To put it simply: There’s been a point in everyone’s life where they laid in bed awake, thinking about the list of things they have to do, anxiously going over it on repeat, trying not to forget anything. At the very least, a five-minute session at night can prevent the 3:00 a.m. “Why am I still awake? Oh, and milk, can’t forget milk tomorrow” thoughts.

Beyond following a traditional system of bullet journaling, you can customize your journaling to aid any part of your health. From mood tracking to fitness tracking, there are templates and easy “how to” articles online that can help any aspiring bullet journaler on their journey.

If you prefer to leave pen and paper out of your daily routine but still want the benefits of tracking your mood or goals, there are app alternatives.

Bullet Journaling Apps

Trello is a cross-platform bullet journal with automation capabilities. You can set up boards on a schedule and use the search function to switch from one collection to another easily.


This app’s tree-structure lets you see every collection and bookmark important parts for each day, week or month.

The simplest form of a bullet journal, Daylio checks in with you at the same time each day and asks about your mood. Simply fill out how you feel and why when prompted. And track your mood over months.

Headspace, much like Daylio, draws you out of your everyday life to focus on reflection. For tracking mental health without task lists, Headspace just might do the trick.

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