3 Tools With Which You Can Track Habits and Why They Are Important
If you want to persevere in introducing habits that are important to your life, it is of the essence to record progress from day to day. The problem is that progress is not seen immediately and this sometimes leads to you giving up too soon. For example:
- you decide to change your diet and after the first week you see that you have lost only 1 lb/kg
- you go to the gym and after a few weeks you don’t notice any progress
- you start saving and after 1 month you have a very small amount saved …
… what should you do then? In one of the previous examples, the number of pounds/kilograms is not a habit you introduce, but the number of healthy meals you consumed during the day. So, instead of lbs or kg, you should measure and record the number of healthy meals. It is the same thing with the gym and with the savings. This way you will be more motivated because you will see progress day by day.
Also, you can read: 7 Effective Tips to Overcome Laziness
You need a tool to monitor the execution of habits that will allow you a visual experience to progress, which in turn will further motivate you to persevere in the habit you want to introduce.
3 Tools You Can Apply
#1 Paper and Pen
This is probably the simplest way. You can take some of the printed calendars and mark with “x” the days when you make a certain habit. Of course, you can go a step further and create a kind of table in Word or some other program, which you will then print out and fill in that way. The table should be simple. We suggest that there is a first column in which you will list all the habits you want to follow, and then the other columns to be given in the month and have 31 of them. When you do this, you can print the table every month and track the achievement. Monitoring the realization of habits in this way does not even necessarily mean recording habits daily but once a week.
- gives the best sense of completion (when you check the box with “x”)
- a physical thing that attracts your attention and thus motivates you to fill it
- you can easily lose it (paper)
- it is not always at hand
Of course, you can track everything in Excel too. You can create a spreadsheet in a similar way, and the advantage of Excel is that you can enter certain formulas that will show how well you have achieved something, or what is the percentage of achievement, which can further motivate you to persevere in habits. You can easily set up formulas that will calculate how successful you are in an additional column. For example, if you set a task to read 20 minutes every day 7 days a week, you can set a formula that will divide the number of days when you have completed this habit by the number 7 and give you the percentage of realization.
- you can make simple formulas to help you have good result statistics
- you can customize the tool and easily add new things
- you usually need to have a computer with you to fill in the tool
- there is more resistance when filling in because there is more work (to load Excel, open document, …)
- it does not attract your attention in any way
Today, there is a large number of applications with which you can monitor the execution of the habit. Some of them are free while some require a subscription. They have different features and some extra stuff compared to both Excel and paper and pen. Perhaps the most important additional thing is the different types of notifications that can remind you to realize a habit or motivate you to persevere. A lot of people use the Way of Life app, and some of the most famous are Stride and Habitica.
- easy to fill in because it is on a mobile that is constantly with you
- it can additionally motivate you because there are notifications
- the paid version ‘forces’ you to use it even more
- you can get into an endless spiral of choosing the best app which can make you end up not using any
- there is less sense of accomplishment compared to pen and paper
How Tools Like This Can Help You Persevere in Your Habits
Using all these tools is based on the idea that it will motivate you not to ‘break the streak’. So, these tools motivate you to check that box because you don’t want to break the streak. For example, when you start with a special type of diet, one of the most important things to help you persevere is A4 paper that you put, say, on the fridge and that will have squares, i.e. boxes (for days) in a month, and which your child will check every night when you would execute a diet that day.
This will make you twice as likely to persevere because:
- You will not want to break the streak.
- You will not want to deprive your child of the pleasure of checking boxes because it will become very important to them as well.
How Will You Most Easily Persevere in Filling Out a Tool Like This
The challenge can be that the tool itself becomes a burden and, first, you stop filling the tool, and soon, you leave the habit you want to introduce. That is why it is important that you are able to fill the tool with the least possible resistance. We suggest that you fill in the tool as soon as you complete the habit.
For example, fill in the above-mentioned table on the refrigerator immediately after you have brushed your teeth in the evening, which will mean that you will certainly not eat anything until the next day. It is similar to marking some other life occurrences or hobbies as completed as soon as you finish them. So, if you like the feeling of marking every successful result/game at the betting slip you made at some of the online bookmakers in Germany, Italy, the USA, or whatever country you live in, you should make filling in the tool for completing your habit as joyful as that.
- Enter the marking in the application that you exercised immediately after leaving the gym
- Check the box into the printed tool immediately after you have read a book for 20 minutes
- Enter in the Excel spreadsheet that you called 10 clients immediately after you finished the last call
What to Do if You Skip a Day
The “two-day” rule should be applied here, i.e. you should try never to skip a habit for two days in a row. It is not terrible if you skip one day. It can happen to everyone. However, what you need to pay attention to and what you need to focus on is not to skip 2 days in a row.
You can use an analogy from geometry – to draw one line you need 2 points. The line you draw between the two points represents the direction you are going. You should try not to set a direction you do not want to go.
Which Tool to Choose
Of course, you need to choose the tool that will best suit your personality and that will be most likely to be used. If you decide to keep track with paper and pen, you should consider putting this kind of paper in a daily planner that you should definitely carry with you at all times, which will make it always at hand. What you can still do is set aside the first few pages of the planner to track the habit and do so in it.
When you introduce a habit, you should focus on tracking the actions you need to take on a daily basis. Tracking completion through tools will allow you to visually confirm that you are progressing, which will motivate you to continue with it.