If you begin tracking your daily routines or habits, you’ll begin to find some flaws in your memory. You might not be eating as healthy, burning as many calories on your runs, or being as productive with your time at work as you think you are.
Our brains aren’t developed to store information, but rather be inventive and creative. That’s why tracking is more reliable, but you may be surprised at what you will find.
Why Should You Think About Daily Tracking?
Effective tracking can provide a better success rate in creating new habits, increase your productivity, and hold you accountable. Tracking your actions will provide clear performance results. It will keep you honest by increasing your self-awareness and provide motivation through a chain of successful days, weeks, or even months.
In the past, meditation was always a difficult habit for me to develop. Every time I’d start I would do well at first, and then my practice would fall apart. I had my excuses; not enough time, I forgot, or I thought I was meditating more often than I was – until my Insight Timer app would display a “two-day streak.” I struggled to make meditation a daily practice.
I only became successful after I started tracking my results and tying meditation to an existing habit. After my morning shower, I’d take 10 minutes to meditate and then check it off my list. I tracked every day I meditated, and the odd days I missed. After I had completed a week in a row, I became more motivated to keep the practice going. Every day, I’d take my morning shower and then head to the same spot in my condo, sit down, and meditate. Through tracking and attaching it to one of my daily habits, it was easier to make meditating a regular practice.
The Dark Side of Tracking
Tracking can have a positive effect on achieving your goals, although negative consequences can occur– when tracking becomes too much.
Recently, a friend showed me his habit tracker and all of the activities he regularly completes – getting up early, stretching, doing push-ups/plank every morning. He proudly revealed his meditation app indicating 107 days in a row! I was impressed.
He went on to tell me a story about how on Day 79, after meditating on the plane, his streak reset to zero due to a time zone change. Understandably, he became upset and ended up contacting the app to update his streak.
This is where I realized the negative side effects of tracking. When crossing off your task becomes more important than the benefits of the activity, you might want to stop and re-evaluate.
If you find yourself falling down this path, miss a day on purpose. The point of creating a habit isn’t to create the winning streak of the century! It’s to benefit from creating a long-term habit by using tracking to assist you. Be aware of your competitive nature might be getting the best of you.
There are many more apps you can use, find one that works best for you. Or you can play it old school and keep track of your activities via pen & paper or on a calendar. However, an app provides better accessibility, and you can even set daily reminders!
If you have doubts about tracking, just try it – what do you have to lose?
Identify a few specific habits, that contribute to your performance at work and well-being. Spend a week tracking how many times you go to the gym, what you eat or how often you perform a bad or good habit. If you forget or miss a day, let it go, and pick it up the next day. Create consistency and avoid missing twice in a row.
If you take on too much it’ll be difficult to do it over the long term, so start slow.
Determine your WHY by asking yourself what is motivating you to improve this area of your life? Use this as a reminder during times of struggle or distress. Understanding why you are doing something will help you stay motivated to make the activity into a habit.
Take action today and pick one specific habit or daily action that you already do or want to start and begin tracking it regularly. Post your commitment in the comments below and I’ll follow-up to hold you accountable 🙂