What is Jott?

Migraine Diaries with JottJott is a free and very simple transcription service that emails text versions of your voice recordings into your email box.

Note: Sadly, Jott has decided to end services May 1st, 2011.  I will re-write this article to use another service ASAP.

How does Jott work?

It’s quite simple, and free, and works like this:

  1. You dial a 800 number.
  2. It answerers “Who would you like to Jott”
  3. You say “myself” or “me”
  4. It says “go ahead”
  5. You record your message and hang up (max 30 seconds.)
  6. It converts the voice message to text and sends it to your email box or cell phone text message in-box.

Migraine Diet TriggerAdvantages of Jott for Migraine Diaries

  • It’s incredibly easy to use, by anyone with a phone, even if they are new computer users.
  • Most people have their phones with them at all times.
  • Jott records the time and date of your entry automatically.
  • It’s less trouble than sending yourself an email or text message.
  • Your messages will be in one place at the end.
  • You can use it while moving around or, if you have a hands-free phone, while driving.
  • It’s free!

Types of Migraine Diaries

There are essentially two types of migraine diaries:

  • First is essentially a food and activity diary, I’ll call the “comprehensive migraine diary” like one would keep when on a diet. Information is recorded even if no migraine attack is immanent. This is best for people who are working to establish triggers. I think Jott is the ideal solution for this type of diary. If you experience a migraine attack, you simply record the onset of that attack as an entry.
  • Second is the attack diary. In this one, you only record entries if you are experiencing a migraine attack. I do not recommend this type of diary because it depends on your memory at a time when you’re feeling bad. Still, Jott works well for this one because you do not have to sit in front of a computer or use a keyboard, both of which are quite difficult if you are feeling nauseated or having other sensitivity. I think the food and activity diary format is best.

How to Record Your Diary into Jott

Check with your doctor on the types of things they’d like you to record, and modify these ideas to fit those needs. Tell your doctor you’re using Jott (and about this webpage!)

TIP! Jott automatically records the time/date of all messages, so you can leave that off of your recordings.

Ideas for Jott Entries in Your Migraine Diary (You will not use ALL of these rather just those pertinent to your own situation)

  • Food or Drink Consumed – Record to Jott anything you put into your body. Include coffee and soda beverages. Record as much as you can about how much, and what ingredients it has (e.g. MSG or Glutens.) e.g. “Bowl of raison bran, glass of OJ, and a cup of coffee.”
  • Activities – Record to Jott activities you have been doing that are outside your normal pattern. For example, “drive to work” is assumed and you don’t need to record that, but “sat in stressful 2 hour meeting” is something you should Jott.
  • Menstrual Cycle and Menopause – Two to three times as many women as men have migraine, perhaps because the fluctuation of hormone levels is a key migraine trigger.
  • Mood / Stress Level – Your mood and stress level are very subjective, but if you can come up with a consistent way of recording it, you can make patterns, e.g. “I feel partly-sunny!” … remember that Jott will record the time of day, so you don’t have to.
  • Weather / Temperature – While it’s not always possible to get accurate information, a quick note about how you feel, temperature-wise is a good idea. Barometric pressure and other weather information is available on-line, and some will use that when they’re gathering up their data weekly.
  • People You Dealt With – we have strong emotional and stress reactions to certain people in our lives. Jott is a great way to say things like “Met with Steve about Project x” – to the outsider hearing your recording it just sounds like a work log, but in reality you’re keeping patterns about the people in your life.

Migrane DiaryWhile it may seem odd to record something like “took kids to school” it’s important that you do so. If it’s a trigger, you want to know it – not stay in denial. The goal is to find all triggers, good or bad.

  • Impact / Feelings – What effect did the migraine have on your daily activity? This entry is motivating to you for keeping your diary and helpful to your doctor. It’s exceptionally hard to remember feelings, so use metaphor or imagery when you’re recording. This will help you capture the essence of how you feel.
  • Sleep Amount and Quality – In the morning, record how well you slept and for how long. Some will combine this in a single “first thing in the morning” Jott.
  • Migraine Attack Entries
  • Worry – You feel worried that a migraine may come. This is good for helping determine if you are subconsciously detecting migraines and possibly increasing their chances.
  • Migraine Coming – Migraine Attack – record the exact time you FIRST FEEL an attack coming on. For me it’s like thunder on the horizon. Some people come up with their own personal code for this if you don’t want others to know what you’re recording.
  • Intensity – Many use a 1-10 scale for this. Again – use a code if you’re not wanting people to know what’s going on.
  • Medications – Any medications you took and their dosage. Since most people only have 1-2 medications used for migraine, you can keep this simple.
  • Migraine Gone – Once the migraine is gone, record that too as soon as you can. Duration of migraine is an important part of the measurement. If you go to sleep and are not sure, just record “went to sleep” the next morning.

Gathering it All Up

After a few days of entries, you’ll have a bunch of emails in your in-box that will form your diary. I recommend putting them into a folder of their own. You can also automate some of this using folders and rules, if you’re technically inclined. If you use Gmail, here’s a great write-up on how to do that.

Tip: You may wish to have a friend or family member compile your diary. This is excellent because it frees you to just live life normally and also introduces the need to be clear and consistent in your messaging.

Migraine Gone

When you’re feeling better, you or someone else may want to compile the entries into a single document – something you can see at a glance and show to your doctor (don’t expect doctors to take the time to browse your email box with you.) An excel worksheet is ideal, if you’re familiar with that format. Pen and paper are great too.


Migraines are elusive and almost seem to “know” when you’re trying to pin them down. The moment you stop recording your information you’ll get an attack. You must keep your diary even when you’re feeling well if you wish to establish the trigger-patterns that cause them.

Looking for Patterns / Talking to Your Doctor

Working with your doctor, and a collection of migraine diary entries, you may be able to establish some patterns that help you make a list of triggers. Just because you don’t see a pattern is not a reason to keep the diary to yourself. Sometimes it takes a doctor to see this, as there is a skill involved in pattern recognition. They will be looking at your entries in an objective way.

Do not alter your diary if possible. “Cleaning up entries” can remove vital information. Migraine diaries are always a little messy.

This article is not written by a doctor and is not meant to be medical advice. I am a migraine sufferer and a technology buff, so it was a natural thing to write. I invite any physicians who see it to comment on how it might be improved.

That’s it… Jott is now Your Friend!

Technically Savvy? Power tips…making it Work More Smoothly

For those who are technically savvy, I encourage you to explore ways to smooth out the process of Jotting a Migraine Diary. Some ideas

  • Voice dial on your phone (my blackberry and car responds to “dial Jott”)
  • Speed dial on your phone. I assigned it to “J” on my blackberry keyboard.
  • Set up folders in your in-box.
  • Rules in your in-box for sorting.
  • Google Spreadsheets, shared with your doctor.
  • Hook up with Jott Links

A Little Bit About Migraine Diaries

A migraine diary is a simple and effective method to record patterns in your diet and activity for later review.

Through an accumulation of migraine diary information, you can get closer to finding cause and effect for triggers that may help you get closer to a solution.

Not all migraines have simple triggers. Some have complex combinations of triggers and it’s hard to use memory to recall all of the combinations from a given day, especially when you’re in the midst of a migraine attack.

Sign up for Jott

Blogs about Jott I’ve seen recently [links appreciated]

Jott: A powerful new tool for learning

Get things Done over the Phone – Lifehacker

Migraines area of WebMD – Indie Cooper-Guzman

Jott goes healthy – from Jott blog

Coverage of this Article on the Web

Headache or Migraine diary – by phone?

Lifehacker: Use Jott to Keep a Medical Diary

About Scott Clark

I am not a doctor, but a migraine sufferer who happens to be technically savvy and always looking for ways to reduce or eliminate my migraine attacks.

Physicians: If you’d like to improve this with me, I’m totally open to suggestions via scott [at—] websiteadvice [dot—] com


It is my genuine hope that this article will help you in identifying your migraine triggers and improving your life.

Scott Clark

PS: Jott has a blog here. Tell Jott about using Jott for your therapy and where you heard about it.

migraine photo 1 by tara hunt and used under Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 license
migraine photo 2 by Jérôme and used under Attribution-Share-Alike 2.0 license
happy again photo by Okko Pyykkö and used under Attribution-Share-Alike 2.0 license
diary photo by Shane Adams and used under Attribution-Share-Alike 2.0 license.

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