I love to track information and data. It provides satisfaction to put a little check mark next to a task, or to write down how many miles I have logged on the treadmill. With certain tasks, this is the only motivation I need.
A few months ago, I started using a journal as a day planner and keeper of all the various lists I make. I also create a habit tracker each month so I am focused on the good habits I want to create and maintain.
I’ve been doing this since November. Each month I create a new tracker in my journal. This way of journaling has pushed me to use my creative and fun side of myself – and to spend money on colored pencils, gel pens, and stickers – which I love.
The following are ways my tracking has had a positive impact on my life:
Creates Mindfulness Around My Goals: Knowing that at the end of the day, I will go through my habits and mark off what I accomplished makes me focus on how I am spending my time. For example, I wanted to create a habit of checking my email every day (avoiding the dreaded multiple digit inbox). If I found myself looking at my phone, I would check my email in order to be able to color that box. I did the same things with spending quality time with the kids. I found myself spending a half hour playing with them, in order to color in the box at the end of the day, and to just spend quality time with them, of course ;-).
Provides Feedback: At the end of the month, I add up how many times I took part in a habit. By gathering these numbers, I can see where I focus my time. I have noticed that reading has become something I do almost every day. This makes sense because I am averaging reading a book a week. But, this also means that if there are other habits I am not accomplishing, I may want to take some time away from reading.
Provides a Fun Way to Recap My Day: Before I go to bed, I fill out my habit tracker (and yes, doing this in my journal is a habit I track in my tracker). Most days it’s a nice way to see all that I accomplished. I operate better on self-recognition and accountability than being accountable to someone else. So, this is my way of staying accountable to me.
Some Things Just Won’t Stick: There are certain habits I have tried creating that just don’t work for me right now. Morning pages and meditating are two habits that just never seem to stick. For three months straight I set out to meditate and not once did it happen. I finally realized these creative practices are not that much of a desire for me right now and I can let them go.
If you are interested in using tracking as a tool to ignite some new habits, or keep some habits going, you can find free printable habit trackers online to help you get started. Or you can have some fun and create your own.