Why And How To Track Habits? Lessons From “Showing Up Every Day”

If you pick a habit and do it for 90 days, you will learn one or two things about yourself.

If you use a habit tracker, you will see patterns in what you do. You’ll learn what makes you feel good and what doesn’t.

So, how do you go about it? How can you track your habits?

We will get to that in this article.

So, I used to follow some kind of habits. Lately, it’s something as simple as code every day. In other words, I am learning to master web and mobile app development… After coding every day, I have observed some patterns, and I think all humans and readers of this blog can benefit from documenting your habits.

Later in the post, you will learn why you should do it. For now, let’s talk about how to track habits.

How To Track Your Habits

I would like to talk about using habit trackers, something fancier, or some good technologies. But I am a simple person, and I have used simple techniques.

I use Google Sheets mostly nowadays. In the past, I have used books and wrote journals every day. I haven’t tried to use habits calendar, but I think they are a good choice, too.

So, the first thing you need is a kind of habit tracker.

1. Use the habit tracker of your choice.

The idea is to use a tool that allows you to keep a record of your habits and anything extra. I recommend Google Sheets. It’s easy to set up. You have the date, the activity, and your progress.

2. Keep it really simple

Keeping it simple for the first few months is important when it comes to becoming disciplined. Once you are used to the habit, improving or setting yourself up for bigger challenges is easier.

Look at going to the gym, for instance. If you keep fit, you need to work out. If you want to stay healthy, you need to work (not necessarily complex) for the rest of your life.

Many people get it wrong. They work hard for a few weeks or months. When they start seeing results, they stop. Most of the things you want to achieve or habits you want to build need you to be consistent.

In your best interest, it is advisable to keep things really simple.

Want to build your arm? Keep things simple. Do 20 diamond push-ups every day for 90 days. And the next 90 and the next 90.

Keep things simple and push you to start instead of worrying about all the tools you don’t have.

3. Spend about 3 months repeating simple things

You only need to keep repeating the simple things in the first few months.

This is not the right advice for someone who hasn’t been studying and needs to write a paper in the next few weeks. It’s advice for someone who wants to study stuff and make it a part of their lifestyle for the rest of their lives.

So, keep it simple until you can do the simple things as comfortably as possible. Then, take the next step.

4. Challenge Yourself

It’s okay to keep things going as long as you want. But it will come to a point where you need to challenge yourself a little. Challenging yourself makes you improve or grow, whether becoming smarter or growing muscles.

5. Don’t Quit

This is the hardest part of the whole process. People quit. We stop doing what we need to do.

I am guilty.

I love self-studying. It gives me so much confidence, but you can guess what happens when I leave the wall of a tertiary institution.

Yeah, you guessed right.

But think about it. If you can improve your brain, skills, talents, business skills, or commitment to something important by working at it daily. Improve that area by 1% every day for 5 years. Each year, you would have become more than 300% better. A better programmer, business person, or body builder.

Just one percent. Every day.

6. Use Mental Models

Mental Models are like tricks or ways of thinking about things in a way that pushes you to do it. I have just introduced one in the last couple of paragraphs. It’s all about decision-making and seeing things from a bigger and better perspective.

There are a lot of them. You can find about five in this article I wrote last year.

Notable mentions include Deliberate Practice and Feynman Technique.

Why You Should Track Your Habits

1. It encourages you to continue

It’s not the first time I am trying to include a habit. In the past, I used to do diamond push-ups every day. After about sixty days, people began to notice and compliment my arms. This sends a signal to my brain, like an extra cookie for doing what I did.

Another thing is the encouragement you get, seeing that you have shown up every day and have begun to feel proud of your consistency. If you use a calendar, for instance, you can see your progress in one glance, which is both encouraging and a reference to how hard you work.

2. Learn Better, Learn Faster

This one is my favorite of all the reasons why you track your habits. I am a huge fan of learning things faster and better. I have talked about it here: the 20-minute rule and here: learning how to learn.

Want to know what makes learning easier?

Consistency. Building a learning habit. Showing up.

When you track your learning habits, be specific. Then, notice the time of the day you started learning, what you learned, or where you studied the material. What kind of material? Is it a video, a book, or an essay about how to play chess?

Looking at your habits over a month, you will understand what works for you. Then, you can double down or improve it.

3. Understand Yourself Better, Help Others

Documenting your habits will help you understand yourself. When you do, you can help others improve what you have achieved. This knowledge can become a side hustle or even a business, although that should not be your aim when you start.

How many people do you know that are getting paid for building something out of their habits, and now they’re making money from such experience?

The answer is, ‘every consultant you know.’ Because habits and experience have a lot in common. Some habits are necessary for the right expertise to set.

Atomic Habit is a book about habits, and the author’s personal experience with habits plays a huge role in writing it.

Richard Feynman teaches the Feynman Technique, his way of learning things.

Start With Something Simple

So, you have a few ideas on how to track habits. If it interests you, learn how to learn by taking the course.

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