I spent some time last year researching how to form good habits so I can really make some meaningful changes is 2022. I came across a great article on using a habit tracker. I had never heard of this tool before, but I loved the idea right away!
- What is a Habit Tracker?
- What is the Best Habit Tracker?
- Types of Habit Trackers
- Why You Should Use a Habit Tracker
- Do Habit Trackers Work?
- How Many Habits Should You Track with Your Habit Tracker?
- Free Habit Tracker Printable
- How to Track Your Habits with a Habit Tracker
- Habit Ideas for Your Habit Tracker
- Habit Tracker Examples
- Pin on Pinterest Now
What is a Habit Tracker?
A Habit Tracker is simply a chart with a list of habits you want to track, along with the days of the week or month. A habit tracker can be as simple as crossing off each day you complete the habit with an X. You can also use a habit tracker to capture more details, such as how long you spent, what mood you were in, and other variables.
Your habit tracker can include habits you want to incorporate into your life and it can also include bad habits you want to avoid. For example, if you’re trying to stop biting your fingernails, you can track each day you don’t bite your nails.
Your tracker can be a handwritten page in your journal, a printed chart on a bulletin board, or a spreadsheet you create with tools like Excel or Google Docs.
Here’s a sample of the Habit Tracker I created for myself. It’s quite simple, with spots to track habits I want to complete Daily, Weekly, and Monthly. I keep mine on the wall of my bedroom to look at it frequently, but you can also keep it in your planner or on your desk. It just needs to be some place where you can see it often.
What is the Best Habit Tracker?
The best habit tracker for you is the one that you’ll use. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Just find something that will work for you and stick with it. The best habit tracker is the one you use consistently, so check out a few options before committing to one format.
Types of Habit Trackers
There are three main types of habit trackers:
Paper Habit Tracker
This is the type of tracker I use. My habit tracker is a list of the habits I want to track and I check them off when I complete each habit.
Some people like to use a circle habit tracker, which is again a list of habits that you check when completed.
A paper habit tracker can have a minimal design or be as ornate and complex as you want to make it. If you use a bullet journal, that’s the perfect place to keep your habit tracker.
You can also use mini habit trackers to get started with habit tracking. They’re small, simple, and straightforward. A mini habit tracker is just a small section in your daily planner where you track one or two important habits.
You can download my free habit tracker printable for your own use if you like.
Habit Tracker Spreadsheet
You can also use Excel or Google Sheets to create an online Habit Tracker. This can also be a simple list where you mark each day when you complete your habit, but it can more convenient because you always have access to your spreadsheet, rather than trying to keep up with a piece of paper.
You can also use formulas in your spreadsheet to color code your habit tracker. For example, you can turn the week red if you didn’t complete your habit each day or give yourself a gold star on the days you completed your habit.
I really like this Google Sheets Habit Tracker, because it offers a way to look at your whole year’s progress in one place.
Habit Tracker Apps
And, of course, there are apps you can use to track your habits.
- Habitica turns habit tracking into a video game.
- Habitify is a simple tracker that lets you check off your habits each day.
College Info Geek has a great round-up of all the best Habit Tracking Apps you can use.
Why You Should Use a Habit Tracker
No matter what type of habit tracker you choose, a Habit Tracker can significantly cut down the time needed to create a new habit and make it stick.
Habit Trackers Are Great for:
- Providing a visual reminder to help you remember your goals and track your progress.
- Giving positive feedback when you complete your habit. It’s somehow just so satisfying to check something off a list, isn’t it?
- Helping you stay motivated to continue to practice your habit. Once you get a string of check marks on your tracker, you don’t want to break the streak.
- Keeping track of how frequently you perform your new habit.
- Providing accountability for completing your habits. When you see a reminder of your habit every day, you know that you committed to this behavior.
- Measuring the results of your new habits. Humans have notoriously inaccurate memories. We overestimate both our successes and our failures. By reviewing your habit tracker, you can see an accurate picture of your progress.
Your Habit Tracker can also give good feedback if you keep failing at your habit. Maybe, despite your best efforts, you consistently don’t follow through on your chosen new habit. That’s a signal that you need to examine your habit more closely.
Habit trackers are endlessly customizable; you can use your habit tracker to track any habit, goal, or activity you want. Some people like to track their spending, while others might track how often they work out or eat healthy foods.
You can create a simple chart with just a few habits listed, or you can create a more detailed spreadsheet. The important thing is to find a system that works for you and helps you achieve your goals.
Do Habit Trackers Work?
Habit Trackers can work to help you establish new habits.
In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg describes The Habit Loop, the neurological process that governs how habits form.
The Habit Loop has three parts:
- The Cue – the trigger for the habit
- The Routine – the behavior itself
- The Reward – the pleasure you get from completing the habit
The classic example of a Habit Loop is brushing your teeth each night before bed.
- The Cue – putting on your pajamas and beginning your bedtime routine
- The Routine – brushing your teeth
- The Reward – feeling clean and refreshed after brushing your teeth
When you use a Habit Tracker to chart your progress, you tap into all three parts of the Habit Loop.
- The Cue – seeing your new habit listed on the Habit Tracker
- The Routine – Performing your new habit
- The Reward – The satisfaction you feel when you mark the habit as complete.
How Many Habits Should You Track with Your Habit Tracker?
If you’re just starting out, try to keep your habit tracker to five or six habits. You don’t want to get overwhelmed and give up on tracking altogether.
As you get more comfortable tracking your habits, you can add more items to your tracker. Always make sure that the number of habits you’re keeping track of is manageable, so you don’t feel pressured.
Free Habit Tracker Printable
I’ve created a free Habit Tracker you can print to track your desired habits. It includes a Daily Habit Tracker, a Weekly Habit Tracker, and a Monthly Habit Tracker conveniently on one page.
How to Track Your Habits with a Habit Tracker
Here’s how I use my habit tracker as part of my daily routine.
1. Enter Your Desired Habits on Your Habit Tracker
I use my Habit Tracker to help me form new habits and keep track of daily tasks I don’t want to forget. I put the most critical habits at the top of the page.
If a task doesn’t happen every day, I draw a square around the day it’s supposed to happen. For example, my goal is to exercise three days a week, so I’ll put a square around the days I want to exercise.
2. Place Your Habit Tracker Someplace You Can Access it Easily
I put my Habit Tracker on my bathroom wall, so I see it first thing in the morning. Other good places for your Habit Tracker are your desk or your planner.
3. Track Your Progress Daily
I check off my habit each morning for the previous day. Other people like to check off their habits right before they go to bed or check off their habits as soon as they’re completed.
4. Review Your Progress Regularly
Your tracker is most effective when you review your progress regularly. I like to review my Habit Tracker each week. This allows me to see how well I did following my desired habits and reflect on any challenges and successes.
5. Adjust Your Habit if Necessary
If you skip your intended behavior regularly, it’s time to figure out why you are failing. There are several reasons why it’s hard to stick to a new habit.
In my experience, the number one reason I fail at starting a new habit is because I tried to do too much.
If you’re struggling with your habit, try adjusting it until it’s more comfortable for you. Maybe break the habit down into smaller tasks that are easier to complete.
If you can’t keep up your desired habit, scale back. My current “staying hydrated” goal is to drink 32 ounces of water each day. My original goal was 64 ounces, but I rarely, if ever, met my goal.
If necessary, I’ll scale back to 20 ounces, which is literally just one water bottle. And if I can’t make that, I’ll keep scaling back until I can string together a series of wins.
6. Celebrate Your Success
If you string together two weeks in a row or a week in a row, or even a few days in a row, take a moment to feel proud of your success. Recognizing and celebrating your success further reinforces your habit in your brain. You’re acknowledging the importance of the habit in your life and further motivating yourself to continue your new habit.
Take the time to tell someone else what you’ve accomplished. Post it on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. At a minimum, take a second to say out loud, “Yay, me. I did it!”
Habit Ideas for Your Habit Tracker
You can track an endless number of habits in your habit tracker. Here are just a few ideas to help you get started.
- Go to bed on time
- Sleep eight hours every night
- Unplug from electronics an hour before bedtime
- Eat breakfast every day
- Make your bed every day
- Get outside for a walk every day
- Catch up with friends and family once a day
- Read 30 minutes each day
- Drink enough water
- Follow your skin care regime each evening
- Eat a salad for lunch at least once a week
- Do laundry once a week
- Vacuum and mop the floors once a week
- Water your plants
- Take time for self-care
- Review last month’s success and failures
- Plan your goals for the next month
- Have a date night
- Clean out your car
- Have a day free of technology
Habit Tracker Examples
You can download my free, printable Habit Tracker, of course, but there are as many types of Habit Trackers as there are people. Here are some examples of some of my favorites.