Hello everyone! This is Tabi of @tabijournals, and Archer & Olive have invited me to write a blog piece for you today. I’ve chosen to show you all how I use my habits trackers in my bullet journal to make positive changes in my lifestyle, and how you can too!
Bullet journaling is an art that is incredibly personal and unique to your needs and art style, but it can also draw heavy inspiration from other creators and their work. Now, there is nothing wrong with taking inspiration from other creators (provided you credit them appropriately!) but it can make it difficult to personalise spreads and make them work for you. I know when I first started journaling, the vast majority of my spreads were almost exact copies of ones I had seen on YouTube and Pinterest etc. When I look back on my earliest journals a lot of the spreads are left empty because they simply didn’t mesh well with my lifestyle. Whenever I would leave a spread empty I would feel a bit guilty and very unproductive - which was not the case! I just couldn’t work well with the layouts chosen by the original creators of the spreads. In some instances it almost made me stop journaling completely because of how burnt out I felt. It wasn’t until I started playing around with my own layouts, and tracking different habits that I found my own journaling style that works really well for me.
So, today I’m hoping to show you different styles and ways you can track your habits, both good and bad, and how you can use them to help improve your lifestyle. Plus, there is a free printable of my favourite tracker layout at the end!
Bullet Journal Habit Tracker Supplies.
You can use my affiliate code TABI10 or my link for 10% off Archer & Olive products.
- A notebook - any size, shape, or page pattern!
- I’m currently using the “A5 Deep Green 192 page notebook” - Archer and Olive, and “A5 Vintage Bee” - Archer and Olive.
- Colourful pens.
- I mostly use the “Flourish” and “Blossom” calliograph collections - Archer and Olive, and Tombow “Dual Brush” Pens.
- Black pens.
- I use the Sakura Pigma Micron Pens
First of all, some tips before we begin!
- Take inspiration from old journals/planners! - before I started bullet journalling, I had regular school planners and diaries. Some layouts within those books worked quite well for me, so I took little pieces of inspiration from them to help find my ideal layouts.
- Choose your colours wisely - for me personally, I struggle to read words and graphs if they are in certain colours, so I use certain colour combinations frequently to help avoid confusion. Different colours are also more noticeable on a page, so you can use them to almost highlight certain aspects of the trackers.
- Add your own flair to the layouts! -
- this is all about finding layouts that work for you! So make sure to personalise it to whatever extent you feel comfortable with! Washi tape, stickers, doodling, or even leaving it blank and minimal - do whatever works for you!
- Don’t rush filling things in - I find the biggest challenge with these spreads is filling them in! Some people just don’t have the time or energy to fill in their bujo everyday perfectly. What I like to do is gently mark with a pencil on the page to keep a brief log, then fill the page in properly once I have more time.
- Keep your colours separate - once you decide on the colours you are using, keep them in a separate pouch or holder to keep them close at hand. This helps avoid the dreaded colour confusion when you can’t remember what colours you’re using!
- It’s ok if it doesn’t work out the first time! - don’t see unfilled trackers as a failure, see them as a learning point and try something different next time!
Step 1: Identify what you want to monitor or change in your life.
How are you going to track anything if you don't know what to track? I’d recommend making a list of things you want to either monitor or track at the back of your journal, or on a brain dump page if you have one.. Then you can either select a few items from the list, or perhaps all of them! I find the lists useful, as I can see what I was tracking previously all on one page rather than flipping back through endless months. Plus before I was just writing things down on post its and little paper scraps, so I like to think I’m saving paper by doing things this way.
Step 2: Choose a colour scheme.
Now this is a fairly quick step most of the time. Some of you may follow a set colour scheme, by monthly or yearly themes, so the colours can be chosen from your pool of theme colours. If you follow more of a freestyling journaling approach - I’d recommend choosing 2 contrasting colours, a neutral colour that goes well with the other colours, and a black pen.
Step 3: Deciding the spread elements.
We have all the basic parts covered, now we just need to start making the spread. Everyone has different preferences to how they layout their spreads, so below I’ll show you the different elements I like to include in a tracker spread!
1. Graphs, graphs and more graphs!
I am a girl who LOVES using graphs in my journal. I particularly enjoy overlaying different habits on graphs, and I find using the overlaying technique really helps me see which habits positively (or negatively) influence my life. In the example below, I’m tracking my phone usage with the black line and my mood with the coloured lines. From the graph I can see how there isn;t really a correlation between my phone usage and mood, so I can stop comparing them and track two different habits next month. Some of my favourite habits to compare are mood vs sleep, food eaten vs bloating and mood vs phone use, but of course you can compare whichever habits you like!
2. Darker colours = happier times.
Darker colours are often more contrasting and one of the first things seen when you flip to a page in your journals. When I’m tracking my mood, I use darker colours for the happier days. If I am quickly flipping through my journal, the darker colours help me see the times I was happiest more easily, which helps me focus on the good times of the month as opposed to the less good times. I also like to use this tip to track any “key” habits that I’m keeping a closer eye on. On the picture below, I’m using the dark pink to see when I’m happier, and the beige for when I’m feeling down.
3. Use that extra stationery!
Sometimes to jazz things up I like to use washi tape or stickers in my tracker spreads. It served 2 purposes, one - it makes the spread look nice and pretty! Two - it uses stationery in my collection that I otherwise wouldn’t use on a daily basis. This works particularly well for graph trackers - using different washi tapes for columns can be really pretty!
4. Occasionally mix things up!
Whilst I love using the same layouts, sometimes it can get boring month to month to use the same layout. So spice things up a little! Sometimes it can be as simple as moving one element of the layout to the other side of the page, or changing the shapes you use within the layout. One particular favourite mixup of mine - changing the mood tracker to fit the theme! For example, the picture below shows my 2021 August theme which was stationery, and for the mood tracker I drew a pen pot and colour coded the pens according to my mood.
Step 4: Put it all together!
Now it's time to put it all together! You can decide where to place different elements, and how to incorporate your style into the spread. I like to gently sketch out a layout before committing to ink, it allows me to see different layouts and decide on the best one. Quite often if I like a layout I make a rough sketch with the dimensions at the back of my journal so I can have the dimensions at hand for when I next use it. Below are some pictures of how I lay out my habit tracker pages to give you some inspiration.
1.January 2021 theme “Snowdrops” - I used a circular tracker which tracked my mood on the outside with a black line and my phone usage on the inside squares with different colours corresponding to hours. I used this to compare the two to see if spending more time on my phone influenced my general mood.
2. February 2022 theme “Love Letters” - on the right page you see my usual graph layout, but on the left page I created a moodboard where I coloured in the squares according to my mood. This was to create a page with a more abstract feel rather than defaulting to a quote page. Plus, the colours on the squares correspond to the columns on the graph, which creates a cohesive feel between the two pages - you can see me fill in this particular spread on my instagram page!
3. August 2021 theme “Houseplants” - the classic layout I usually default to in some capacity. A mixture of graphs and dot trackers - can’t go wrong with a dot tracker in my mind. I did change the elements slightly by removing the borders around them to create a more minimal and open look on the spread.
Step 5: Enjoy your masterpiece.
That’s right - enjoy the process of creating and the final result! Remember your journal is meant to work for you, you are not meant to work for your journal (as cheesy as that sounds). Most people stop creating because they simply don’t find enjoyment in it anymore, or it becomes too much work to maintain. Use your trackers to help you become a happier you, don’t use them to beat yourself up for not meeting your targets. There will always be the next month, and instead use them to reflect and create an even better spread next time!
If you want to see how I sketch out and create my habit tracker pages, have a look at the video below!
I hope you enjoyed reading this blog piece. It's been great fun working with Archer & Olive and tapping into a different form of creativity. There’s also a fun printable for you guys too, if you want to use a template rather than starting from scratch!
Take care everyone!
If you recreate any of the elements or spreads above, please do tag @tabi.journals, @archerandolive.community and @archerandolive on instagram so we can see your lovely creations!