How I learned to track my habits

Creating and tracking good habits sounds great, but can be a really difficult thing to do. The most difficult thing for me has simply been remembering. When I want to create a new habit, I often forget to do it. And, when I do it, I often forget to actually track it. Not good.

Lately, I’ve come up with a system that has seemed to work very well.

Here is what works for me.

Plan around the timing.

Remembering to do a new habit can be tough. The easiest way to ensure you do something new is to tie the habit to a particular time in the day.

The problem is that all days are different. Some days you have lots of meetings. Some days you have lots of errands. Some days are for family, and some are for work.

I realized that the two times in the day I have the most control over are (1) right after a wake up, and (2) before I go to bed. I try as hard as I can to tie my new habits to these times.

Simplify the habits.

Don’t make a large list of habits to maintain.

The key is to boil things down to what really matters to you. For me, I want to create lifestyle habits. I never focus on creating new work-related habits. I already work so much that I don’t need to focus on those habits. What I need to focus on is staying healthy in the mind and body.

Currently, I only have 4 habits I track:

  1. Drink more water: I drink lots of coffee, and want to drink more water. I accomplish this by drinking a glass when I wake up and a glass before going to bed.
  2. Yoga or stretching: Working at a computer is hell on your body. After I drink my morning cup of water, I brew a cup of coffee, and do yoga for 10-15 minutes. It is a great way to start the day, and the time right there. Plus, I am rewarded with coffee!
  3. Exercise: This is the random one. I exercise when I can, but this habit gets put off more than the other four. At the very least, hopefully I did some yoga.
  4. Write: I blog every night before I go to bed. My rule is that I can’t sleep until I press publish, and it seems to work.

Simple right? 2 when I wake up, and 1 when I go to bed. I don’t get these done everyday, but keeping it simple has helped me a lot.

Simplify the tracking.

There are tons of different ways to track. You can use notebooks, or different web and mobile apps.

Personally, I’ve been using the Lift app on my iPhone. It is a super simple app that looks beautiful, and does just what I want: it gives me a place to check off my small list of habits. When I’m doing well, it keeps track of my streaks, which provides encouragement.

Building the habits around the habits.

That’s it!

Those are the few things that have helped me be more consistent with drinking water, practicing yoga, exercising, and blogging.

The funny thing is that the habits are OK, and habit tracking apps are OK, but what has really helped me is to build habits around the habits I want. Once I develop the habit of doing things at certain times, and habits fall into the place. As does the habit tracking.

How do you create and track new habits? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks!

P.S. This is post number #40 in a 100 day blogging challenge. See you tomorrow!

Follow me on Twitter: @alexshye.

Or, check out my current project Soulmix.

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