in Habits

Next Level Habit Tracking and Formation

As a follow up to my post on habits in 2013, I wanted to touch on some improvements that I have made to the system.

Previously I was tracking just one habit per month, making sure that it was likely to be a keystone habit – one that, if implemented, has a “cascade” effect on other parts of your life.  Regular exercise is a great example of this, because you’ll usually have more energy to devote to other aspects of your life and will achieve more things throughout your day.

I’ve upped the ante and am starting to think not only of single habit formation, but tracking many different habits throughout the day and using perfection as an ideal, not the desired result.

Because willpower is finite, there are simply going to be some days where my willpower gets tapped by business or personal life and some habits fall by the wayside for the day.  The idea is to track a multitude of habits – some small, some large – over long periods of time and work on the meta-structure of your day and the order of the actions you take throughout the day.

Here’s an idea of what it looks like:

Habit Categories

This is pretty self explanatory – certain habits can be grouped together under the same theme and tracked in the same place.

Habit Completion

I decided on three states for a habit in any given day: Missed, Finished, or Ignored.  Ignored exists because some days we might make a conscious choice not to do a habit, so it shouldn’t be counted as a miss on these days.  This is a judgment call, but if you make a strategic decision to pass on a habit for a day, you can give it an Ignore.

Day Percentages

This is the most interesting part of the system.  I get the percentage completion of the day with this equation: Finished / (Total Habits – Ignored).  In another view in the system you can see your habit completion percentage graphed over a week, month, or year’s time.  You can also view your habits one by one on a week, month, or year graph.

Note Taking on a Daily Basis

You can click on the date and write some short notes for the day, letting you make some quick and easy observations on what worked and what didn’t.  This allows you to rapidly iterate on your schedule and habits to get higher completion.

What This Allows You To Do

When put together, all of these pieces allow you to view habits with a larger perspective.  You get to do some REALLY cool stuff if you stick with the system for just a  month or so.

Meta Habit Structure

Everything is interrelated in life, and your habits are no exception.  Playing around with the timing, grouping, or the habits themselves can have profound results on your percentage completion for the day.  Provided you are actually choosing the right habits, doing some simple tracking and testing like this is a much better way to achieve long-term results in your life.