As seen before on Wit & Delight
Editor’s Note: The beginning of the year is a time when many of us are looking to make small tweaks that can change our lives for the better. Today, we’re sharing a post contributor Kolina Cicero originally wrote in early 2020. In it, she makes a compelling case for habit tracking and analyzes exactly how it’s done. it in your own life. We hope you find her words as helpful as we have.
With the right intentions year after year, why do we often fail to meet our resolutions? I don’t know the answer, but I have two opinions. For one, they are bold. There’s nothing wrong with big goals, but in order for them to be sustainable and last into next year, you need to achieve them. Second – and I believe this is the biggest culprit that disrupts our success – we start pursuing our goals without being aware of how our lives are right now or that we How do you actually use your time?
Being aware of your habits will help you stay in the driver’s seat and, in my experience, help you set more relevant, achievable goals. So how do you become aware? By tracking your habits. With all the energy poured into New Year’s resolutions, habit tracking can sound a bit passive. Who has time to track their habits when what they really need to do is work towards the best version of themselves?
Because when you start tracking habits, you’re more likely to create achievable goals and thus not have to start all over again next year. Progress has to come before awareness, or else you don’t really know where you’re coming from.
I started tracking my habits carefully a few months ago. I have an idea of how I’ve been spending my days, but I’d like to clarify what I really took my time to do. I already know that I spend most of my mornings writing (I think). I went to yoga a few times per week (I think). Only when I track my habits do I see the difference between where I think I’ve been spending my time and where I’ve been. really spent it. This realization has led me to some amazing progress.
Only when I track my habits do I see the difference between where I think I’ve been spending my time and where I’ve been. really spent it. This realization has led me to some amazing progress.
For all of you intending to tone down your New Year’s resolutions this year, I recommend you start by tracking your habits. It changes lives, I promise.
How Habit Tracking Works
All you need is a notebook, a pen and a little dedication, because you will need to end each day with your habits. (If you’re the type of person who needs more structure than a hand-drawn grid, there are also apps, tools, and notebooks to help you keep track of your habits.)
To get started, let’s create a grid. Graph paper like the one we used in middle school math is useful so you don’t have to draw rows and columns. On one axis, write down the habits you want to track, and on the other, number the days of the month. (Editor’s Note: Looking for a pre-made habit tracking form? Click here to download the free habit tracking spreadsheet, designed by Kate.) Because the first month or two is all about awareness, I recommend listing all the things you can think of that you spend your time doing: watching TV, going to Target, ordering pizza , exercise, scroll through Facebook, work, Etc.
A note on tracking your work: If you work on a 9-5, I don’t think you need to track it because you know exactly how many hours per week you spend at work. However, if you’re staying late or working from home in the evenings, even if it’s only occasionally, I’ll keep an eye on that. You may find that you spend more time than you think working outside of your scheduled hours. I will explain how to track this in the next section.
Every day you do your routine, you’ll get a check mark (I use an X). You can track any routine you want — just make sure you have parameters around it. For example, if one of the habits you want to track is exercise, be sure to define what that means. For you, is half an hour of exercise the same as an hour? If not, then clarify that.
Personally, some of my routines look like this: Yoga (this is automatically an hour-long class); 10 minutes or more stillness; <42 minutes on my phone; There is no free children's television. If I do each of these, I'll get an X. On a really good day, I'll get about six or seven Xs out of the eight habits I'm tracking in any given month. And let me tell you, nothing is more satisfying than getting the full Xs column.
Because I’ve been doing this for a few months, I’m at a point where I’m aware of what my habits look like and now I’ve adjusted them so I’m trying to get more done than I do. . That’s the great thing about habit tracking: It only takes a month to know your current job status. By the second month, you can start doing the things you crave, like spending less time on your phone, which most of us are able to do.
I use an app called Moment that sends me notifications for the day about how much time I’ve spent on the device, including the total minutes on my phone and the number of times I pick it up. The app has given me a goal of 42 minutes or less on my phone per day and that’s what I still strive for. If phone use is ultimately something you plan to cut back on, using an app to determine how much time you typically spend on it will help you create more realistic goals to cut back on.
Something that worked for me was the habit of wording it so that the X was positive. In the evening work from home example, the routine could be called “No evening work” and you would give yourself an X for every day you leave work at 5:00 and are not busy with work. that job again until the next morning. Or, if a habit you want to track is how often you use single-use plastic, for example, that habit could be “Do not use single-use plastic” and every day you go without using it. , you will receive an X.
Over the course of a month of habit tracking, you’ll create a compelling image of what you spend your time doing, all X is good work. You may even notice trends; when you do more, you also do more or vice versa. This awareness is fundamental to adjusting your habits.
Change your habits
The important thing is not to try to change your habits immediately, but to be aware of them first. It only takes a month or two of tracking for you to understand exactly what your habits are. And once you’re aware, you can make wise adjustments to your routine and incorporate some resolutions for the new year.
Forbes contributor Brianna West suggests creating just a few goals. “Picking fewer than a few goals for the new decade doesn’t mean you’re diluting your ambitions,” she speak. “In fact, quite the opposite. You’re focused and clear on what you want to do, and channel your energy to make a real and lasting impact.”
I recommend adding only one or two new habits per month, just to be sure you can actually achieve them. Radical change your life from top to bottom, attractive but not sustainable.
Habit tracking results
In the few short months I’ve tracked my habits, I’ve taken some important steps toward becoming the person I want to be. Besides adjusting my schedule so that I wake up at 5:00 every morning to write (habit tracking reveals that unless I make this adjustment, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll be taking the time to write), I’ve also spent less time on social media, which is a habit. acquaintance is important to me. When I started following, I wrote “No Social Media” in the habits column; I want to see how often I visit without social networks. The answer is never. That never was, until I knew I would get an X for the days I didn’t waste time scrolling through Instagram.
During my first month – the month that I intended to use only for awareness, not progress – I adjusted my habits and I went 11 days without social media. The non-social days are not consecutive but scattered throughout the month. I never thought I’d go a third of a month without it. Turns out it’s easy! Not only that, it also gives me time to spend my time working to get Xs on top of my other habits. (In the second month, I went 15 days without it. Habit tracking is really promote.)
There is nothing more admirable than a person with self-awareness, and from that awareness has the ability to create goals that not only stick, but make you a better version of yourself.
Once you have a clear understanding of your current habits, you will be able to reframe and start working on creating better habits. If you’re not one to read a lot but aspire to be, maybe you can add twenty minutes of reading to your routine. Or maybe you want to try ten minutes of daily meditation. If you need some inspiration, This is a great post! about creating positive habits. Whatever habits you want to adopt, all you have to do is add them to your tracker and see how often you mark them with an X. It’s almost embarrassingly simple.
You may find that some routines will also skip. I no longer keep track of the days I watch TV without my kids because they are so few and far between, I consider them a gift. I also don’t watch more than 10 minutes of silence anymore because every time I drive somewhere, I always turn off the podcast for the first 10 minutes. It just becomes—wait for it—habit.
There is nothing more admirable than a person with self-awareness, and from that awareness has the ability to create goals that not only stick, but make you a better version of yourself. It’s no exaggeration when I say habit tracking has changed my life. I wish the same for you this year.
Kolina Cicero is infatuated with stories – read them, write them, get lost in them. Other things she loves include yoga, travelling, and taking cooking, Italian, and writing classes. Her first children’s book, Rosie and the Hobby Farmpublished in July 2020.