Sometimes it is hard to recognize your own habits. It has taken me some time to recognize that I pick at my nails when I am nervous and flip my hair when I am talking a lot. These are some more inconsequential habits of mine. Then, there are the habits I've attempted to form, the desired and aspired for goals that take time and effort to put into place. Some of these habits for me are meditation, exercise, journaling, full nights of rest, and morning prayer. These are a bit harder because there are easier activities to choose or my schedule fills up or another excuse gets in the way. You must counteract these tendencies, overcome your fears, and put in the effort to establish a habit. The best way to go about forming habits is to track them. This, in turn, motivates, perpetuates, and forms a habit.
What is the Best Way to Track Habits?
With a habit tracker, of course!
A habit tracker can come in many different shapes and sizes. It is different for every person, but also helpful for every person attempting to form a habit. There are apps that offer to track habits. Apps are mobile and easy to use generally but require a charged phone in order to record the activity after you've done it. Sometimes your phone isn't charged. Other websites have similar capabilities in which you enter the habit and simply click if you've done it for that day. These can be accessed anywhere you have wifi and your login, but can end up being mindless recordings of the habits. Clicking a button doesn't have the tangibility of checking a box on a piece of paper.
The last category of habit trackers is physical, typically paper, trackers. There are companies that provide this sort of product, but I believe the best habit tracker for you is one you make yourself. The best part is you can create an epic habit tracker out of any journal.
What is the Format for a Homemade Habit Tracker?
If you make your own habit tracker, you can format it how you like it. However, there are proven structures that function better than others. The commonly agreed upon format is an amalgam of a calendar and a to-do list. Follow these basic steps to create your own epic habit tracker in any journal:
Step 1: Create a grid on a piece of paper. It should be as many spaces across as there are days in the month and as many spaces down as habits you would like to form.
Step 2: Write in the days of the month across the top row.
Step 3: List out the habits you want to develop down the first column.
Step 4: On the days you perform that activity or fulfill the task, you check the box.
This process of creating the habit tracker on your own and marking down your results allows you visibly and physically track your success. You see it. You feel it. You can look back on it to increase your dedication to forming the habit.
Here's what my habit tracker looks like after setting it up in my OneBook journal.
There is a lot of room for creativity here. It can be colorful or toned down. You could use stars or highlighters to mark the boxes. Your habit tracker should be uniquely made for you in order to encourage the use of it. When you make your own habit tracker, the practice of habit tracking becomes easier, more enjoyable, and more successful. It is personalized for you, your style, your preferences, and your habits.
That is why you can use any journal to create your habit tracker. It will be epic because you put in the effort, you stylize it, and you utilize it in your own way. So grab even just a blank piece of paper, draw some lines, and mark complete your first step towards forming habits.
3 Bonuses to Make your Habit Tracking Even Better
Now that you've got the baseline for habit tracking success, there are ways in which you can improve already.
1: Make a habit of habit tracking.
This is easy because all you have to do is mark the box for that habit on that day immediately after you do it. This provides instant gratification for your efforts. If you consistently do this, the habit of habit tracking happens. In addition to that, performing your habit becomes exciting because you want to check it off. It is a win-win.
2: Habit Stacking!
Wouldn't it be nice to do all of your habits in a day? It is difficult, no doubt, but made simpler by doing more than one in a period of time. For example: if your habits you want to form are wake up at 7, exercise for at least 30 minutes, eat healthily, and call your dad, then you could make all of those a part of your morning routine. It would make tracking them easier and actually doing them a piece of cake.
3: Find the right pen and paper for you.
This goes along with the encouraged and possible customization I mentioned earlier, but I do believe that starting with the right canvas impacts the painting of your habit tracking picture.
This is a lot. I know when I first discovered habit tracking I was overwhelmed and a bit turned off from the idea. But the habit of habit tracking will be beneficial and eventually enjoyable. All it really takes is a journal, a writing utensil, some habits to form, and a bit of good effort. Create your own habit tracker by simply drawing a grid, numbering it, listing your habits, and checking them off. Make habit tracking a part of your daily routine and eventually it will be a habit, alongside the multiple others you have formed in the process. This is the start of self-improvement. It will be epic.