Did you know that habits account for about 40 percent of our behaviours on any given day? It is the sum of your habits that makes you who you are. They are responsible for how in shape or out of shape we are, how happy or unhappy we are, and how successful and unsuccessful we are.
What you do repeatedly each day shapes your personality. Hence, it’s important that your habits are in line with your future vision. Want to stay healthy? Track your water intake. Want to build strength and flexibility? Track your workouts. Want to work better? Track the number of deep work hours. To become a better person, you need to cultivate more good habits and break bad habits. (1)
In this blog, you’ll discover many creative ways to track your daily habits. But, before you begin using a habit tracker, you need to come up with a list of 4-5 most important habits for you.
If you’re clueless, don’t worry! We’ve compiled a list of habits to track. Take a piece of paper and a pen. And, start noting down the habits that make the most sense for you. Let’s get started!
Different Habits To Track
Have you ever heard of the African saying, “When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside can do you no harm”?
Well, that’s true!
If you can constantly improve yourself and finally get to a point where your personal growth just continues to increase, you will be hard-pressed to find any outside enemy that can do you harm.
Making small improvements on a daily basis and then turning them into habits can be more productive and comfortable than trying to make a lot of big changes at once. Here are such small habits you can cultivate daily to lead a happier and better life.
Personal Habits To Track
Personal habits are the habits that help us in becoming the person we dream of. They help us in defining us as individuals. Following is a list of such habits.
- Filling out gratitude log
- Going to bed early or on time
- Getting enough time to sleep
- Not hitting the snooze button
- Reading daily
- Having fun or me-time
- Not watching Television
- Doing hair wash or spa
- Implementing skincare routine
- Getting a haircut
- Having any kind of workout session
- Turning off the electronics 30 minutes before bed
- Backing up important files
- Reducing social media time
- Calling parents
- Paying bills
- Leaving work on time
- Cleaning, washing, and decluttering.
Healthy Habits To Track
Healthy habits benefit your physical, mental, and emotional health. They contribute to improving your overall well being and make you feel good. Below are some of such habits.
- Eating certain amounts of fruit and vegetables
- Avoiding junk food
- Quit smoking and drinking
- Hitting gym
- Eating sufficient amounts of protein, fats, and carbs
- Drinking sufficient amounts of water
- Meditation/ yoga
- Brush and floss teeth twice a day
- Cooking meals at home
- Climbing stairs
- 10,000 steps daily
- Using essential oils, etc
Work Habits To Track
Good work habits increase your performance standards at work. They help in improving your behavioral, ethical, and practical elements that set a precedence of efficiency, productivity, and reliability. Below are such habits.
- No gossiping with coworkers
- Receiving praise
- Finishing a project
- Cleaning workstation
- Making a certain number of work calls
- Presenting at a meeting
- Taking criticism well
- Allowing extra time for everything
- Keeping the phone away while working
- Maintaining a good relationship with everyone, etc.
School Habits To Track
The following school habits contribute to learning. They help in developing a responsible attitude and positive study habits and study ethic.
- Doing homework
- Reading textbook
- Studying for a test
- Meeting with a tutor
- Participating in extracurricular activities
- Attending all classes
- Participating in group discussions
- Getting good grades on assignments
- Having a pop quiz, etc.
Although there are many other habits related to social media, relationships, etc…. I feel like these are very important for our well being. Pick some of them you like and add them to the list according to your goal. If your goal is to reduce weight, include habits like yoga, exercise, eating healthy foods, keeping note of the amounts of proteins, carbs and fats you intake, etc.
Are you done with the list? Great. Now, it’s time to incorporate in your life. But, how do you make time for these habits every day? How do you track your progress?
Don’t overthink it! There is only one solution. It is tracking your habits by maintaining a habit tracker.
What Is A Habit Tracker? How does It work?
“What gets measured gets managed,” says Peter Drucker, the father of modern management. Therefore, habits can be managed by measuring (tracking) them. I know measuring is hard. But don’t worry, that’s where habit trackers come in. (2)
A habit tracker is a simple tool used to track your habits. One of the basic habit trackers is a calendar. Take the calendar of the month and cross off each day you stick to the routine. For example, consider meditating every day is the habit you want to practice. Give an X on each day you meditate. If you meditate Monday, Tuesday and Saturday, each of those dates get an X. As time passes, this calendar becomes a record of your habit streak.
Doing this will provide you with direct evidence that you completed the habit. It is like a signal that indicates your progress. And this is not all it does.
- A habit tracker helps in reminding us to act by creating a visual cue. When you look at all the streaks on the calendar, you will immediately get reminded of working again.
- It is always motivating to visually see the progress you are making as you don’t want to break your streak. Progress is the most effective form of motivation. When you know that you are moving forward, it is more motivational to continue down that path.
- It is also very satisfying to record success. It is quite gratifying to cross something on the to-do list or to complete an entry in the log.
A habit tracker helps in keeping your eye on the ball. You will get to focus on the process rather than the result. Therefore, you won’t be fixated on getting six-pack abs. Instead, you will be the person who is just trying to keep the streak alive and simultaneously become a person that doesn’t miss out on workout sessions. (3)
Types Of Habit Trackers
There are three forms of habit trackers – Weekly habit tracker, Monthly habit tracker, and Annual habit tracker based on their layouts.
Weekly Habit Tracker
A weekly habit tracker is a weekly layout to track actions. I love weekly tracking, as it is easier to commit for a shorter period. You can analyze your progress and make adjustments during the next week.
However, since these trackers are laid weekly, you will not be able to see the entire progress in a single spread. It can be challenging to organize the information from all the weekly layouts.
You can plan your meals, workouts, outfits, homework, meditation, homeschooling schedule, skills like learning instruments, this week’s kid activities and the like in your weekly habit tracker.
If you have some tasks or habits you like to track for a couple of days, I suggest you use a weekly habit tracker.
Monthly Habit Tracker
A monthly habit tracker is a monthly layout to track your habits and actions. In my opinion, monthly habit trackers are even better than weekly habit trackers as you can easily see your 30 days of progress in a single spread.
Though they take more time to create initially, a monthly habit tracker can be a great way to organize all of your activities. And it can be very satisfying to see your success eventually. However, with this tracker, it is not easy to change your habits as you have to wait an entire month to create a new chart.
You can track your expenses, spending, savings, fitness, sleep, mood, water intake, medication, reading, cleaning, skincare routine, etc. in a monthly habit tracker.
Annual Habit Tracker
Annual habit trackers work yearly on an annual layout. You can track your habits and other things for an entire year or the eternity of a notebook.
These trackers are great for bill paying, seasonal or quarterly tasks such as de-cluttering, deep cleaning, changing air conditioner, etc. Less regular occurrence but still essential tasks such as going to the dentist, etc.… can also be tracked using the annual habit tracker. You can also track a single habit or multiple habits on a single habit tracker layout.
So, these are the three ways to create habit tracker layouts. Which one is the best tracker? It indeed is based on your interests, preferences, and habits you like to track.
Different Habit Tracker Ideas
A habit tracker can be in various forms. As discussed, it can be as simple as a calendar, pen-and-paper checklist, an application. Even gadgets like a marked water bottle, representing how much water you like to drink every day, can also be a habit tracker. Let us discuss some of the best and easy habit tracker ideas
Below is a list of paper-based habit trackers in which you design your layout on a chart or in a book or your journal. Here are three types of paper-based habit trackers I came up with to track your actions and make progress.
1. Bullet Journal Habit Tracker
If you journal every day, you can make a habit tracker a part of journaling. I love doing this in a dot grid, as it makes it super easy for me to draw the chart. All you will do is draw a table and assign one column for every day and one row for every habit. Make use of a ruler as nothing is more frustrating than a wavy line. Now at the end of each day while you journal, give an X or fill in the boxes (whatever makes you satisfied) for the habits you did that day.
The above-discussed layout is the basic and straight-forward layout, and you can customize it in whichever way to want to. I have found these on the internet.
2. Habit Calender
As I said, you can also use a calendar to track your habits. However, you can only track a single habit as tracking multiple can be confusing on a calendar. All you have to do is take a calendar and strike off each day you completed the task or the habit.
3. Printable Habit Tracker
If you don’t have the time to draw a habit tracker layout every week or month or If you are lazy like me to keep ruling it up every week, you can always choose a printable habit tracker. Make a printable habit tracker yourself and use that every week. Else if you google around a little bit, you can find numerous printable habit trackers with different and unique designs and layouts. Here is the habit tracker I use.
Just download it using this link and print it out on a printer or at a copy shop. You can place the tracker in your journal or binder or stick it on the wall and use it.
Habit Tracking Applications
Habit tracking applications give you a visual representation of your entire progress lined up as an unbroken chain. Once you see this success, you will be less likely to skip the habit. Don’t you? However, since there are hundreds of them, I am here to help you in finding the apps that are worth your time.
All the below-listed apps will help you in tracking your progress on your actions or habits. They also will help you in keeping you motivated throughout your habit-building journey.
Habitica has a unique approach to track and maintain good habits. Inspired by RPG video games, Habitica will give you an extra incentive by leveling up your customized avatar each time you complete your task. This process helps you in staying motivated. Habitica’s unique design makes tracking your habits and goals fun.
Along with habit tracking, this app will allow you to connect with your friends and complete some exciting quests and missions. However, people who aren’t interested in games may not prefer Habitica.
Momentum Habit Tracker
Momentum Habit Tracker is ideal for tracking your habits and routines. It has several great features. One of the most interesting ones is that with this application, you can import your progress to an Excel document for better visuals and cross-platform viewing. You can also set weekly targets and take notes on particular habits to take control of them quickly.
Unfortunately, this application is restricted to Apple devices only. However, you can integrate your Momentum profile onto the iCloud.
Productive Habit Tracker
Productive has a simple layout and a well-designed interface, which makes it easy to use. Though it is simple in its design, this app has excellent features with a clean UI. Productive keeps track of your success, which helps in making continuous improvement and staying motivated. However, you need to pay a monthly fee if you want to track more than five habits.
Streaks is an apple design award winner. It motivates you by maintaining a 12-day streak of a good habit. You can customize the interface yourself and make it suit you and your tastes. To give you a full picture of much you are moving, Streaks connects with your health app and pulls data from it. However, this application costs $4.99 a month and is mainly focused on health goals. If you are falling behind and are breaking the habit, streaks notify you with a reminder and keep you on target.
HabitBull is one of the most feature-rich habit tracker apps. Its detailed recording system will help you in giving you a comprehensive review of your progress. Though this application visualizes your data in a lot of different ways, it is a bit more effort to set up new habits when compared to Productive Habit Tracker. Since all your data gets backed up on the cloud, you don’t have to worry about losing data. If fitness is the habit you want to cultivate, HabitBull can also integrate with GoogleFit.
Habit Tracker In An Excel sheet
Your Google Excel Sheet can also act as a habit tracker. All you will do is assign each row with your habits and each column with dates or vice versa. Fill the cell with color immediately after you do the habit on that day. Isn’t that simple? You can also add a notes column where you take notes about the habit if you have any.
How to Get In The Track Of Using the Habit Tracker Without Fail?
Although a habit tracker has a lot of positives, there are some situations or people to which it doesn’t make sense. A habit tracker can sometimes feel like a burden as you get forced to make two habits at the same time- that habit you want to cultivate and that habit of tracking it. However, if you can get used to it, you can benefit from one or the other form ( even if it’s only temporary).
So, how to get used to a habit tracker? Or how to make habit tracking easier?
It’s simple! Take one step at a time. Don’t overflow your habit tracker with all the habits you want to build. Limit it to your most important habits. As it is easier to consistently track one habit rather than sporadically track ten, agree? Therefore, I always keep my tracker simple with just three or four most essential habits at that time. Doing this helps me from feeling overwhelmed.
Also, make sure to measure immediately after making the habit. The completion of the habit becomes a reminder to pick up the habit tracker and mark off the accomplishment. This way, you will never forget to measure your habits. For example, I will mark the “blog post column” immediately after posting an article on my blog that week.
What To Do When You Habit Breaks Down?
Let us now discuss what to do when you fall off the wagon. I know perfection isn’t possible; every habit streak ends at some or the other point. There will be times where you get sick or have to travel somewhere, or you need to spend more time at work or with family. Sooner or later, we fall prey to the all-or-nothing cycle with our habits.
What should we do then? Don’t worry; that’s where the rule, “Never miss twice,” comes in.
If you miss a day, get back to it as soon as possible. For example, if you miss doing your workout session this day, never skip it tomorrow. Try not to lose two in a row. If I take a cheat day and eat ice cream or a pizza, I will make it up to it by following up with a healthy meal. I cannot be perfect, but I will never make the same mistake twice.
We all know that it’s not the first mistake that ruins us; it is the spiral of repeated errors that follow. A perfectly filled in habit tracker looks beautiful for sure. but, what to do, life is messy. In the end, what matters is that you find a way to get back on track. Agree?
There is never a wrong time to start setting up your first habit tracker. A habit tracker helps you in learning about yourself, and you can literally track anything. With all the different and unique ideas to follow in your habit tracker, you will never get bored with tracking. Maybe you will find some new ideas you have never considered before. Who knows what happens!
I personally recommend everyone to try using a habit tracker at least once as it is always astounding to know what we do every day without even noticing. I don’t know about you, but for me, knowing what is going with all of my time is quite satisfying. Because I always strive to do a better job of managing my time.
In fact, in the past couple of months, after throwing my weight behind my habit tracker, I slowly began to see some significant changes in my life. I can clearly see real progress towards a life that I always dreamt of (productive, creative, fun, and fulfilling) Crazy, right? But believe me, it totally happened. Once you start taking baby steps to progress, you will eventually begin to coast to a better and happy life!References
- A review and analysis of the use of ‘habit’ in understanding, predicting and influencing health-related behavior – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4566897/
- Evaluating Motivational Interviewing and Habit Formation to Enhance the Effect of Activity Trackers on Healthy Adults’ Activity Levels: Randomized Intervention – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6393778/
- Analysis of Health Consumers’ Behavior Using Self-Tracker for Activity, Sleep, and Diet – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4038997/
Written by Sowmya Cherukuri
Edited by Shreya Dalela