Habit trackers are an incredible and effective way to hold yourself accountable when trying to build up consistent habits. They have increased in popularity in the recent years, and are most certainly worth checking out.
Here is everything you need to know about habit trackers:
- Formats and options
- Habits to track
Most people aren’t aware of how vast the world of habit tracking has become. Frankly, it’s a little startling. Let’s take a closer look at what the practice of habit tracking is like as of 2021 in an attempt to make it all seem a little more doable.
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Using a habit tracker is all about accountability. Habits can be hard to stick to, especially when you’re first getting into them. It’s like the concept of a New Year’s resolution: you want to make changes in your life but implementing those changes after years of living differently can be difficult.
Habit formation can take a long time, and oftentimes you don’t get a lot of rewards or feedback at first. This can lead to discouragement, and this negative feeling results in a lot of people giving up before a habit has properly settled in their lives. How do we fix this? How can we get to a point where we can stick to a habit? This is where habit trackers become very useful.
Habit trackers simply help you measure whether you did a habit or not. Regardless of the format, all trackers have one thing in common: each day you complete the habit, you mark it down. The act of marking down a habit when you complete it helps to instill a sense of motivation as you don’t want to break your streak.
There is also a sense of satisfaction when marking something as “done”. That’s why so many people create lists when they need to get something done. There’s always a little rush of dopamine when you get to cross something off your list. If you feel good and are enjoying something, you’re more likely to continue with it.
Habit trackers are also great to just serve as a general reminder of the habits you need to work on. It’s so easy to forget about the tasks you have to do, especially if you aren’t used to doing them regularly. The habit tracker serves as a visual cue to remind you of exactly what you need to do.
Formats and Options
There are many ways to go about habit tracking, and it’s important to pick what suits you the best. If you try and do your habit tracking in a way that feels like a chore, you won’t enjoy it and this will just lead you to letting it go while you were trying so hard to stick to it.
First off, it’s important to establish that, typically, there are three types of habit trackers: daily, weekly, and monthly trackers. You can utilize one or all of them if you want, but the most common one is probably the daily trackers. However, all of them are useful in their own ways. While you are typically tracking habits that you complete, you also have the option of tracking habits that you need to avoid. In that case, you would mark the days you don’t give in to the habit.
Some people simply use a calendar to keep track of their habits. Others use journals to track their habits. Sometimes this means a pre-made habit tracker journal, and other times this means a homemade journal spread. Many people include habit trackers in their monthly bullet journal spreads, and this allows you to make it as simple or as extravagant as you want. This also allows you to customize your tracker.
As for the premade tracker options, there are a few different routes you can take. As I mentioned, some are in the form of journals, but others are in the form of calendars (made specifically for habit tracking of course). I personally use the Lamare Habit Tracker Calendar, and I love it because there’s a lot of space for daily, weekly, and monthly habits, and I’m also able to color in boxes when I complete a habit. All the opportunities to color make it a much more enjoyable experience, and it helped me a lot with building and sticking to habits.
If you want to take a simpler route, there are plenty of options there too. You could always download a habit tracking app on your phone. There are a ton of options, some of which even have the option to track habits you want to avoid, so look around and find what suits your needs best.
Habits to Track
Surprisingly enough, one of the harder parts of habit tracking is figuring out what habits you want to track and commit to. It’s typically a good idea to start small and work your way up to more complicated habits. To help you brainstorm a little bit, here are some of my favorite options for habits to track:
- Taken medications
- Spent [x] minutes reading
- Slept 8 hours
- Wrote (and/or journaled)
- Worked on a hobby
- Giving someone else a meaningful compliment/telling someone you love them
- Washed face/skin care
- Took out the trash
- Tidied up your room/house
- Meal prepping
- Did a random act of kindness
- Did the laundry
- Deep cleaning the house
- Pay bills
- Review finances
Habits to avoid:
- Didn’t drink alcohol
- Don’t smoke/vape/etc.
- Didn’t drink soda
- Didn’t bite nails
- No complaining
- Didn’t bring your phone to bed
- Didn’t eat fast food
Remember, these are just suggestions. Your habit tracking will be most successful if you use options that are specific to you and your needs. Habit tracking can even be a way to sort of force yourself to put aside time for self-care.
I’m Trying to Keep up With My Tracker, but I Keep Falling Behind. How Can I Increase My Commitment?
First off, don’t put too much pressure on yourself or feel bad if you aren’t very successful with your habit tracking at first. It takes some time to get used to tracking everything, so the process isn’t going to be perfect at the start.
There are, however, a couple of things you can do if you’re struggling to remember your habit tracking throughout the day. Try and keep your habit tracker somewhere accessible and out in the open, almost to the point where you’re forced to look at it all the time. If you see the list of habits that need to be completed, you’re more likely to complete them. If you need to, you can even set a reminder on your phone to help remind you to track your habits. Do what you need to do to be consistent in your tracking.
This Is Hard. Should I Just Give Up?
No! As I said before, habit tracking is not easy at first. However, the payoff is totally worth the hard work. Not only do you get to go through an incredible change and period of growth as you form habits, oftentimes you’ll also find yourself having fun while doing so! You can’t dismiss habit tracking until you give it a good try, and that means you should probably commit to it for at least a month, if not longer. After that, it’s your call.
Sources: The Artisan Life, James Clear, Planning Mindfully