In this article, I’ll explain what habit trackers are, how they work, and give you some really helpful tips to get you started making your own positive changes ASAP!
What is a habit tracker?
A habit tracker is a simple tool used to help you build new habits — and reach your goals.
Usually, you pick one specific thing you want to do habitually and track it on a daily basis.
Other bullet journal trackers can also help you stay on top of weekly and monthly tasks, like for example housework routines or putting money into savings regularly. I’ll get more into the different types of trackers later on in this post.
Why should I make a habit tracker?
In the back of the official bullet journal notebook, creator Ryder Carroll has written that “the real goal is to develop a mindful practice that helps you identify and focus on the things that are truly worth your time.”
The benefit of a habit tracker is that it keeps you focused.
How many times have you told yourself, “I want to start/stop doing _____,” only to find that after the initial excitement about your decision to change your behavior, you just as soon revert to your normal ways? The truth is that it’s hard to change your behavior cold turkey. It’s easy to say, “I don’t want to eat so many sweets from now on,” or “I’m going to clean my house for 1 hour every day,” but it’s hard to commit to new behaviors just like that.
Science has proven that positive reinforcements help us change our behaviors quickly and permenantly. Every time you check off another box in your bullet journal for completing another daily habit, you can feel good about it. You checking off a box or X-ing out a bullet in your journal is the reward for achieving that daily goal.
That reward, even though it’s little, makes you more likely to want to do the habit again.
And the more little boxes you check off or dots you X-out, the more the rewarding feeling grows – to motivate you even more every day.
Now that you know how and why habit trackers work, let’s try making one!
What habits should I track?
There are lots of things you can track in your bullet journal. But before you start trackin’ your cracker, here are my tips on getting started:
Don’t start trying to do everything at once. If you’re thinking you’d like to start tracking many new habits at once, first of all that’s awesome. But also, I recommend that you stagger your “Day Ones” for different habits so that you’re not burning yourself out right at the start line.
The danger is that you have one totally amazing day where you have 100% energy/motivation, you get your floor washed, study for an hour, have a home-cooked breakfast, lunch, and dinner in line with your new diet, do yoga, and go through all the paper piles lying around. And then the next day you feel like you deserve a nice break, since you worked so hard and got so much done yesterday and today you’re exhausted anyway.
That is not a good plan!
Give yourself time to start each new habit. I suggest giving yourself seven days to start a new habit, before starting another one. You’ll have a better chance of getting your new habits to stick if you take time with them, and focus on them one at a time. After doing something consistently for a week, you can try adding a new habit.
How about giving yourself some rewards? You may get extra motivation if you reward yourself for completing mini-goals with your habit tracker. For example, 7 consecutive days or a monthly target. Decide for yourself what reward you’ll get once you hit your mini goal. Make your rewards worth it and don’t cheat!
Like everything else about using a bullet journal, your bullet journal habit tracker will only work if you use it.
If you have a hard time getting yourself motivated to do one of your goal habits, you can make a little note in your habit tracker that says how long it takes to accomplish that task. For example, it usually takes less than 5 minutes to fill a dishwasher.
If you really dislike the habit you want to attain, you set a timer for 5 minutes and just do it for that long. Once the timer finishes, you can be done. Over time, you can increase the time. Maybe it’s exercising or studying – do 5 minutes the first day. Piece of cake. Next day, 10 minutes. You can do it!
Another tip I’ll suggest is to add visual elements like photos of your vision, or quotes that inspire you, to help you get motivated.
Here are some things to track in a habit tracker.
Health & Fitness
Weight loss tracker
No cigarettes tracker
No soda tracker
Work out tracker
Took vitamins tracker
Body measurement tracker
Daily goal tracker
New year’s resolution tracker
Outdoor time tracker
Instrument practice tracker
Calligraphy drills practice tracker
Read holy book
Do something that makes you laugh
Mental health tracker
Random act of kindness tracker (RAK)
Call a family member/friend on the phone
Read to kids
Say/do something kind to significant other
Monthly expense tracker
No spend days
Social media post tracker
Social media followers tracker
Packed lunch tracker
Fundraising goal tracker
Respond to emails
Wrote blog post
Daily brain dump
Load of laundry
Litterbox cleaning tracker
Water plants tracker
Dog walking tracker
Habit tracker layouts
It can be tempting to make your habit trackers look really creative and unique, with lots of colors or cute designs.
However, I’m gonna strongly advise you to keep your habit trackers simple. Unless you wanna use the design as part of your reward system, just keep them as simple as possible. If you take too much time fussing over them and making them look perfect, you’re missing the point.
Your habit trackers should be a tool that’s easy enough for you to just make and start using right away. Use your bullet journal habit tracker to focus on your actions and reinforce your good behavior. Create your habit tracker so that it will work for you, not for Instagram or anyone else.
Free Habit Tracker Printables
I understand that for some people, designing even a very simple habit tracker layout can make it difficult to get started. So I’ve created some PDFs you can download for free, to create your own habit trackers.
There are two sizes:
A5 – 5.8×8.3 inches [ DOWNLOAD HERE ] This one is the perfect size to insert into your journal.
Letter – 8.5×11 inches [ DOWNLOAD HERE ] This has 2 trackers per page and is designed to be put in a 3 ring binder.
Habit tracker monthly review
Once you’ve been tracking your habits for 30 days, whichever ones you chose, you should take some time to look over them. Ask yourself:
How did you do?
What changes have you made in your life?
Have any of your new habits become automatic?
Have any of them been a struggle to keep up?
Which habits would you like to continue tracking next month?
Are you ready to start some new habits for next month?
Is there anything that you need externally (either some THING or someONE) that would make this habit easier to attain?
Do you feel like you have had more control over your time while you’ve been tracking habits?
Have you noticed any other positive/negative effects due to your new habits?
Believe it or not, once you start changing your behavior, even in the tiniest way, the world around you starts to change. It can be pretty amazing how much (and how quickly) positive changes start happening in your life once you start taking charge of your time. This is simply because, for most people, even our smallest actions affect someone else, somehow. And sometimes making a small change that only affects yourself, starts the motion of a snowball effect of positive changes.
Instead of getting overwhelmed by how far you have to go to reach your goals, a habit tracker helps you look at it one day at a time.
Seeing your progress over time helps to motivate you to keep making a daily improvement.
You can track anything you want, but it’s helpful to stagger your new habits by at least seven days.
Focus on the practical, self-benefitting aspects of your habit trackers to get the most benefit. Keep them simple.
Remember, your bullet journal and habit tracker only works if you remember to USE it!