4 ways to track habits

4 ways to track your habits

Building habits is hard. Whether it’s a New Year’s resolution (exercise!), or something we all know we should be doing, but … don’t (flossing!), sticking to new daily and weekly habits can be more than just a challenge or struggle.

It can be a nightmare.

I’ve already talked about the benefits of habit tracking (check it out here). Today we’re going to look at a few ways to track those habits. Finding a method for tracking your daily and weekly habits, especially one that works well for you, will keep you engaged, focussed, and invested in building those habits. Here are four ways to track daily or weekly habits that will keep you motivated to build those habits and make them stick.

#1 Printed: Template or notebook habit tracker

Printed habit trackers include downloads you print at home, pages designed into your journal, planner or notebook, and even stickers you can slap somewhere obvious. They can be basic, complicated, or anything in between.

Here are the basics to creating your own:

  1. Draw a 30/31 x 5 grid (or 5 x 30/31, depending on if you want the days to be columns or rows)
  2. Label the columns and rows appropriately.
  3. Highlight or colour in the square when you’ve completed the habit.
Pro tip: I keep track of when I complete a habit in my Weekly agenda, then, during my weekly review, I fill in my grid.

This is my preferred habit tracking method. That’s why I designed the “Habit tracking” grid for Clever Cactus. (“Tracking” page in the Clever Cactus planner; “Habit tracking” sticker for the Bunny Cactus planner.) It’s low pressure, easy and visual, and I can customise it every month to suit my mood.

Plus I don’t need to sign-in to anything.

Wins all around.

Want the Clever Cactus habit tracking grid for your agenda, journal or notebook? Grab the Clever Cactus Habit Tracking stickers here!

#2 Printed: Bullet Journal method

Prefer to design your own habit tracking grid or layout in your notebook or planner? That’s what Bullet Journaling is all about!

If you haven’t heard of Bullet Journaling before, it’s a productivity approach that provides a framework or approach which allows the user (aka you) to track, monitor, record, list, and all that fun stuff as you want and need to do it. This means you can design your own habit tracking spreads, include what you need, leave out what you don’t, and customize everything to fit your lifestyle, perspective and approach to productivity.

Each and every Bullet Journal is different.

Here are some links and guides to help you understand how the Bullet Journal habit tracking system works, and give you a little inspiration:

Fun fact: I bullet-journaled for years before I designed the Clever Cactus planner. So I can confidently say this system works. And it’s a great place to start if you want personalized habit tracking.

#3 Digital: Spreadsheet template

I know paper-based planning isn’t popular with everyone. If you prefer digital, then a spreadsheet like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets might be the best habit tracking system for you. This “Daily Habit Tracker spreadsheet guide” by Alex Zerbach does a really good job of explaining how a Habit Tracking spreadsheet works.

With a spreadsheet system, you can track so much more than your streak. If your habit building involves other key performance indicators (KPIs), like duration, rates, differences, you can set up your spreadsheet to automatically calculate all those fun numbers for you.

Pro tip: Use a cloud-based spreadsheet program, like Google Sheets or the Microsoft cloud. This way you can update your progress from any device.

You can find templates and spreadsheet layout inspiration by Google “Habit Tracking Spreadsheet”. There’s tons to choose from.

#4 Digital: Habit tracking app

Apps are great for app-based people. There are so so so many apps out there for habit building, productivity, self-care and more.

Here are a few I’ve tried over the years:

  • Habitify – Simple, easy to use, nothing fancy.
  • Streaks – Apple only; syncs with Apple products and apps, like the Health app
  • Habitica – Game-based habit builder. Super fun!
  • Fabulous – Cute, fun little app designed using behavioural science.
  • Strides and Productive – When I tried these, the free versions were very limited & I wasn’t interested in paying for the Pro versions.
  • HidrateSpark – They have a water tracking app; you can use it with or without the high-tech water bottle.
  • Sleep Cycle – For tracking sleep, obviously.
  • Apple Health – Speaking of sleep! I recently started using my Apple Health app to track sleep, and a few other things. I find it does the job I need it to do, without requiring multiple open apps and a whole bunch of data synching.

As you can see, I’ve tried a few different apps. While they helped me in the short-term, I wasn’t able to stick with them for the long haul. That’s largely due to my own personal approach to things.

If you’re a high-tech type of person, find notifications and reminders super helpful when it comes to habit building, and want to use a pre-built system, then habit tracking apps are the best tool for you.