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How a Bullet Journal Can Help You Reach Your Goals

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If pictures of bullet journals haven't cropped up on your Pinterest feed just yet, it's only a matter of time. Bullet journaling is an organizational system that helps you keep your life in order. It's your calendar, to-do list, notebook, diary, and sketchbook all rolled into one.

The idea was created by Brooklyn-based designer Ryder Carroll, who needed a way to keep track of his own thoughts and to-do's. He created a basic system, which he calls rapid logging, for putting it all in one easy place. (This is How Cleaning and Organizing Can Improve Your Physical and Mental Health.) And it's not just for remembering birthdays and dentist appointments—the whole idea of the system is a way to track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future.

Sounds like the perfect structure to help you reach your wellness goals, right? It can be an athlete's best friend, helping you commit to your workouts, plan your meals for the week, and stay on top of your healthy habits. And the best part is, it's basically free. Grab a fresh notebook and a pen or pencil and you have all you need to create a more organized life—no Marie Kondo method necessary. Here's how to get on board with bullet journaling—and tips for personalizing your journal.

1. Find a journal you love and gather up colored pens. I'm a big fan of Moleskine and GiGi New York notebooks, but Poppin' and Leuchtterm 1917 are also great brands. To keep you extra organized, I recommend color coding your tasks. I carry a 4-colored pen like this one from BIC, so I don't have to lug around multiple pens.

2. Nail down the basics.Get started by watching the how-to video on Bullet Journal's website. You'll start by creating an index, then set up a future log (it works best to think one year in advance here, so you can account for things that come up like a race that you'll train for over the course of 9 months, or a wedding that's a year out). Next, you'll create a monthly log, which includes a calendar and a task list for each month. Finally, you'll begin a daily log, where you can add entries—either tasks, events, or notes. At the end of the month, you carry over open tasks, cross out ones that seem unnecessary, or migrate them over to different lists. Related tasks and notes get turned into collections, which are themed lists like workouts you want to try, grocery lists, or books to read.

3. Make it your own. Now for the fun part. Doodle in the margins, make space for an inspirational quote each week (get started with these 10 Motivational Fitness Mantras to Help You Crush Your Goals,) or add Post-It flags so you can easily turn to different sections. This is also the time to add in your own personal touches and creating additional signifiers that work for you. Missed a workout one day? Circle it so it stands out to you (this will help you be more accountable the following week). Prepping for a race? Create a page that gives you an overview of your training plan. You can even use your bullet journal as your food diary. Plan your meals ahead, make your grocery list, then use your daily log to keep track of what you actually ate.

As an organized list-lover who carries at least two notebooks with her every day, I find this system perfect for keeping everything in check. I'm able to keep my work tasks, personal tasks, food journal, meal planning, grocery list, and long lead goals all in one spot. The physical act of writing things down by hand also makes me feel more committed to them than an iCal task. (Don't believe me? Here's 10 Ways Writing Helps You Heal.) Your bullet journal can also be a great outlet for creativity. Some users turn it into a scrapbook of sorts, memorializing big events each month, saving ticket stubs, and cataloging recipes. Check out Pinterest for inspiration, grab a pen, and get journaling!