If you like to stay organized, chances are you’ve already heard of the ever-popular bullet journal, touted as the analog method for the digital age. Bullet journals are where people keep track of their calendars, habits, ideas, reminders, lists, and dozens of other types of information in one book. Using a system of symbols that is often unique to the user, information can be categorized, and different pages can be “threaded together” for easy access.
The great thing about bullet journals, also known as bujos, is that you can literally keep anything you want in them. Some people use intricate spreads, stickers, and artsy details to make their journals more fun and pleasing to the eye. Others prefer a minimalist approach. Still others make creative pockets to hold little scraps of paper or Dutch doors to allow them to look at different pieces of information together. And everyone tracks different types of information based on their personal schedules, goals, and plans.
You may never have thought about tracking your diabetes using a bullet journal, but we assure you it’s not only possible, it’s also fun! Whether you’re creative or minimalist, there’s a way to use your bullet journal to track diabetes-related information to keep everything organized and well-documented.
Luckily, thousands of people just like you are already using bujos and uploading photos of their ideas to social media. Here are just a few of the myriad of ways other people have made managing their diabetes easier and more fun by using a bullet journal.
1. Track your hypo and hyper episodes
One of the simplest ways to track your diabetes in a bullet journal is simply to have a page where you display a list of your hyper and hypo episodes in an easily visible format. Every time your blood sugar goes beyond your desired in either direction, fill in a box of your mini “calendar” or just mark it with an X (or “H” and “L” for “high” and “low”).
Knowing how many high or low days you’ve been having lately can give you insight into how well you’ve been controlling your diabetes. If you have a goal to do a better job of this each month, it can be fun to look back and see how many days you have marked in previous months compared to this one.
2. Integrate a hypo/hyper counter into your weekly spread
Maybe having a full spread for highs and lows doesn’t work well for you, especially because it means you have to remember to flip to that page and write it down every time you go outside your target range. If you need more of a reminder, or if you just like seeing it on the same page as other relevant information, try adding a small box somewhere on your weekly calendar spread to track highs and lows. You can add them up at the end of the week or use tally marks to keep track of them throughout the week.
3. Manage your injection locations
If you have diabetes, you’ve probably poked yourself more times than you can count, both to check your blood sugar and administer insulin. It’s good to have a reminder of how long it’s been since you used a certain area so that you can make sure you give your skin a break, and your bullet journal can help you. Just sketch out your silhouette, use dots to mark injection sites, and write the date next to each site.
Repeated injections in the same area over time can cause your body to accumulate fat or scar tissue in that area. On top of feeling weird or looking unsightly, these areas can also become less absorbent, making your insulin dose less effective. It’s important to be aware of issues like this to ensure you don’t put your health in jeopardy.
Tracking where you place needles and pumps in your skin may also help you see how fast these areas are healing after use, which is just another measure of how healthy your body is. You may find certain areas require a little extra help, like a topical antibiotic cream, to heal properly.
4. Graph it out
There’s no better way to get a good sense of the big picture than to make the information into a visual. It doesn’t take much creativity or energy to make a simple line graph or bar graph, but it can make a huge difference in your understanding of your progress when you’re trying to do a better job managing your diabetes.
Here’s an example of a young woman charting her average HbA1C for each month to see how she’s improving, as well as a chart for the number of hypo and hyper episodes she experiences over the course of a year. You could also use a graph like this to chart your activity levels, food habits, and a number of other diabetes-related measurements.
5. Remind yourself what supplies you need
One of the worst feelings is packing for a trip and feeling like you’ve forgotten something important, like your diabetes supplies. If you don’t already have one, make a list of things you may need to take with you when going on a trip, such as your testing kit, insulin, sugary treats for hypos, list of medications, and maybe even a letter from your doctor (depending on where you’re going).
Better to have too many things on the checklist than too few. It’s always good to have that reminder so that you don’t forget anything that might be important.
6. Keep a food log
As you already know, eating the right foods in the right quantities is paramount to good diabetes control. It can often be difficult to keep track of what you’re eating throughout the day in your head, so it’s a great idea to write it down in your bullet journal. Try making separate columns for what time you ate, what you ate, and how many carbs were in it to set yourself up for successful tracking even when you’re in a hurry.
Here’s an example of someone who used a food log with great detail, remembering to include the time, all the ingredients in the food, and the number of carbs, as well as blood glucose readings taken two and four hours after each meal.
7. Match your food log with a blood sugar log
Eating the right things is key, but checking your blood sugar and giving yourself the right bolus dose of insulin to match that food is important too. Here are a couple of ways you can organize a spread that encompasses both what you’re eating and what your blood sugar is doing. You might also consider recording what dose of insulin you gave yourself in response to some of this data.
8. Keep symptoms lists
The symptoms of both high and low blood sugar are numerous and overlapping, and they can include things like confusion and difficulty concentrating. The last thing you want is to have a diabetic episode and not be able to remember the symptoms you’re supposed to be looking for, thereby putting you in a dangerous position where you might give yourself the incorrect treatment or fail to treat at all.
A spread like this can also help your loved ones determine whether you’re having a high or a low, especially if they know in advance that this spread exists. It enables other people in your life to help you if you get to the point where you can’t treat yourself.
9. Track other elements of your health
As a person with diabetes, you know that various aspects of your health are intertwined with one another. Diabetes can affect your body in a multitude of ways, and other parts of your body can affect your ability to manage your diabetes.
Try tracking things like your stress level, physical activity, water intake, and more to ensure you’re staying as healthy as you can.
10. Keep it all in one place
Some people prefer to have separate spreads for each thing they want to track, while others prefer to have everything on one page. Here’s a handy example of a spread that combines many different types of measurements into one spread for easy access. There’s even a handy little spot for notes in case a piece of information doesn’t fit perfectly within the pre-created grid.
Don’t let diabetes make you feel overwhelmed. Get it wrangled up in your bujo so you can get back to doing life the way you want to do it. It doesn’t matter what diabetes-related information you’re tracking; a bullet journal can definitely help you do it in an easy and potentially even fun way.
Do you have a bullet journal spread you’d like to share to help others? We love it when people are able to help one another get organized, and sharing your ideas in the comments section is the perfect way to do it!
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?