Intro to habit tracking


3 minute read

Habit tracking 101 ☑️

I dislike that phrase “101” - what is it, an Americanism? I think it comes from American colleges - an intro, entry-level course. I’m going to change the name of this article now.

Intro to habit tracking ☑️

Much better.

What is habit tracking?

I learned about it from James Clear in his book Atomic Habits. If you’ve not read it and have a spare few hours, ditch this article and read that book instead. If you only have 6 minutes to learn about habit tracking, read on.

In a nutshell, habit tracking is about tracking habits. Every day. Tracking the smallest habit that you want to build, over the course of a month. It’s said that it takes 30 days to form a habit, whether that be starting a new, positive habit or ditching a negative one.

Why track?

Having them visually represented on a habit tracker gives a psychological boost.

Every little tick gives us instant feedback on our progress.

Seeing a streak of ticked boxes pushes us to keep at the habit.

The satisfaction of ticking one off at the end of the day helps reinforce good habit forming behaviour.

Setting aside time every day to track them helps ingrain them into your mind at the beginning or end of each day when you review them.


How do I do it?

At the start of each month, I assess my habit progress from the previous and decide which habits to keep, ditch, or form anew.

  • I keep some that I have enjoyed building, some that I didn’t quite achieve, and some that are good to constantly keep track of.
  • I ditch ones that didn’t end up mattering after a week or so, ones that I simply don’t want any more, or ones that I feel that I’ve comfortably achieved and will go on doing without needing to track.
  • I then add new habits that I want to form for this month.

An example, a selection of my January habits so far:

Take photos
Exercise goals
Eat vegan
Stick to budget
Social media
Blog coding
House research
30 Days of Leadership--------
I’ll carry on filling this in throughout January
  1. Audiobook and Reading - things that I want to do more of - I’m tracking these activities to make sure I dedicate time each day to them.
  2. Writing - a clear habit that I’m trying to form - hence this blog.
  3. Taking photos - I want to get better at photography as I’ve previously mentioned. Forming this habit will help. I’m also trying to take a selfie every day in 2021 and will put them all together at the end of the year. Ticking this habit off also reminds me to do that.
  4. Exercise goals - I want to hit the exercise targets on my Apple Watch every day. This is a relatively easy one for me. I probably don’t need to track it, so I won’t after this month. It’s a bit of an easy morale boost for me to track it for now.
  5. Eat vegan - I’m not doing Veganuary or anything, I’m mostly vegan anyway (cheese and chocolate are my vices), but it’ll good to see at the end of the month how many days I ate fully vegan.
  6. Stick to my budget - Self-explanatory. I set myself a monthly and daily budget for personal spending money. It’s useful to track how often I go over budget.
  7. Social media - I want to get more active on social media again, sharing interesting content. I won’t force myself to do this every day, just track it to make me think about it and post if I have anything to show.
  8. Blog coding - I added this one in retrospectively, after writing tomorrow’s article, “Seven days of development”.
  9. House research - I want to make more regular progress on my house research and search.
  10. 30 Days of Leadership - A leadership course from Aspire Adventures that I started on the 9th.

I’ve yet to find a phone app I like for habit tracking (suggestions welcome). A lot of them are overcomplicated or have expensive subscriptions.


How can you do it?

You can do it on a piece of paper, a whiteboard, a spreadsheet, a phone app. Get stuck in and write down the habits you want to build over the next month. Or a week. Or a year. Try a month first.

If you’re a notepad nerd like me, I really recommend investing in the beautifully crafted Clear Habit Journal. Having a good place to write these habits helps me want to record them.

This is a PDF of the Habit Tracker page from the journal that I use. Print it out. Stick it on your fridge. Stick it on your wall.


Happy habit forming! See you in a month for a review.

Thanks for reading! 👋🏻
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