Habit Tracking for Accountability

“I like the idea of Morning Pages, but I end up not following through.”
“My Master doesn’t have time to read everything I write in my journal.”

Does this sound like you?

If you’ve read The Way of the Pleasure Slave, you know I’m a big fan of daily journaling. Journal-writing is a practice that can help anyone, regardless of relationship status or role. Whether you use Morning Pages or some other format, writing every day is a sure-fire way to get clear on what you’re thinking and feeling. Putting our thoughts and emotions into words is the first step toward being able to share them with our partners. In relationships that place a high value on emotional transparency and clear communication, as M/s and D/s relationships do, that sharing is vital.

Still, it’s not always easy to write a full three pages or to answer a journaling prompt fully. Some M-types don’t have the time or inclination to read long journal entries; they want “just the facts.” Others are more interested in helping their s-types (or themselves) make progress toward specific goals. For that, another type of journaling may come in handy: habit-tracking with a bullet journal.

A bullet journal is a paper-and-pencil notebook system for keeping track of your life. Although the modern bullet journal was created by Ryder Carroll as an analog alternative to personal digital assistants and productivity apps, the idea is based on the simple to-do list. (The “bullet” in “bullet journal” refers to a “bullet list.”) To use the terminology of Getting Things Done, bullet journals function as a trusted system to capture and organize ideas, making them easy to retrieve and act on.

Carroll’s original bullet journal was minimalistic and productivity focused, but in the years since he introduced the idea, a “bujo community” has grown up around the concept. If you check out Pinterest, you’ll see thousands and thousands of spreads (layouts) adorned with fancy hand lettering, illustrations, stickers, and washi tape (decorative Japanese masking tape). While all these things can make for a fun and creative (if expensive!) hobby, they also make it very easy to spend all your time designing and decorating your bujo, rather than actually using it to get things done.

My girl has been using a bujo to track her mood and health goals since 2017 and has found it a real help. I agree; a simple glance at the page shows me how she’s faring on a number of different fronts: sleep, exercise, mood, and so on. She had kindly agreed to share a few sample pages here.

Sample habit and mood tracking layout

This is an example of one month’s tracking. The categories include:

  • sleep
  • billable hours (for her business)
  • creative activities
  • social interactions
  • reading
  • medications
  • using a light box (to treat seasonal depression)
  • meditation
  • different forms of exercise
  • health problems and menstrual cycle
  • mood

The mood section tracks a range of emotions:

  • Contentment to resentment
  • Happiness to sadness
  • Excitement to anxiety
  • Focus to distraction
  • Relaxation to stress
  • Love to anger

The color codes range from dark green (best) to red (worst).

The words at the top — Conflict, Intervention, and so on — refer to weekly meditation themes.

August 2019 habit tracker

You’ll notice in this example, as in the previous one, that the Excitement-Anxiety line shows a lot of yellow. In this case, that’s not a bad thing; it indicates being on an even keel, neither especially excited nor overly anxious. You can also see a few additional notes about special events (MsC!) and how those affected her mood.

These layouts take around five minutes to create at the beginning of each month, and the daily logging requires less than 60 seconds.

Do you use a bullet journal? How has it helped you in your relationship? Join the conversation on Facebook!