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How to track habits in a strategic way

How to Track Habits like An Expert with Habitify

One of the most common mistakes people make when they try to stick with high-performance habits is not measuring their progress properly. That’s why they ultimately fail to stay on track. Here is a complete guide to help you track your habits the expert way.
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Changing your habits is a great way to make important changes in your life that can lead to personal and strategic growth. But, as anyone who has ever tried to install new habits before, it can be challenging to maintain for the long term. 

One important tool that is highly effective in helping people to develop new habits is habit tracking. If you don’t already know exactly how tracking habits can help you form new habits, read our article Why Tracking Habits is the key to Building Habits.

Today we are going to look at how you can track your habits in a strategic way. We will go through the overall principles of strategic habit tracking and also show you exactly how you can track your habits with Habitify.

First, why strategic habit tracking?

Before we get started, let's talk about the difference between habit tracking and strategic habit tracking. 

On the most basic level, habit tracking is the process of measuring whether you repeat a particular action. Everyday you complete your task, your habit streak is extended. The more streak you have, the more motivation you get to try to prolong your streak.

But in fact, we need to go further: Tracking habits in a strategic way - where we see habit tracking as a part of our personal development plan, we track our habits with strong purposes, strategic approaches, and fine data analysis.

Take reading books as a habit that we need to keep track. Instead of checking it off your list every day to mark that you completed this habit, strategically tracking means you need to track so that you get a good sense of how many pages you should read per day, what time is best suitable for reading, how long you should read, what factors that make us distracted, or what your reading speed is,...

Habits metrics help us see the hidden triggers and motivations that are having huge impacts on your habit. Having an accurate data system to nudge you in the right direction is definitely a very useful asset for a better version of yourself. 

Maybe you are feeling it’s a little bit complicated now, but you can make it simpler by following these 5 steps below: 

5 habit tracking steps for strategic growth

Step 1: Decide what habits to track

John C. Maxwell once said: 

“You'll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”

What habits we do undeniably shapes who we will be in the future. That's why choosing what habits to develop is super important. 

If you want to eat healthier, you should cut down on saturated fat and sugar for every daily meal, or if you want to be a runner, building a habit of running everyday is indispensable. 

This step seems pretty simple, but it doesn't mean it’s less important. To build your habits, the very first step you should work on is to develop a clear vision, come up with a plan with long-term goals, and then break it into small and achievable steps. Otherwise, you'll be more likely to give up, or end up in sheer frustration. 

To set such a clear goal, it should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. The harsh truth is, goal-setting is so hard, but you can avoid it by forestalling 3 Biggest Reasons Why We Hardly Achieve Our Goals here. For short, you can ask and ponder these questions yourself: 

  • What person do you want to be? 
  • What are your long-term goals? 
  • Why do you want to form this habit? 
  • How is this habit going to improve your goals? 
decide habits to track
Deciding what habits to track is so important

Once you know exactly who you will be in the future, then you can manage yourself each day knowing what exact habits you should do as  part of your big picture. Also remember, developing a clear vision creates your accountability, then you'll be more likely to make new habits stick. 

Step 2: Choose the habit tracking method 

Now you’ve already known what habits you should follow, the next crucial step is to choose a right habit tracker. 

The most common choices are bullet journal, habit tracker notebook,  excel spreadsheet, or  habit tracking app like Habitify

Try to find the one that suits you best, rather than going with whatever you are recommended to. Habit tracking and personal development are personal, not universal.

If you are new to habit tracking, you can start with Printed Template or Notebook Habit Tracker, which has available templates to save considerable time and effort. If you would love to draw and create your own beautiful and inspiring template, maybe Bullet Journal fits for you. Or if you want to find a very simple and convenient way for tracking, try out  habit tracking mobile apps. 

To help you better understand the pros and cons of each habit tracking method, we have put together a habit tracking method guide here, please check it out: Habit Tracking Methods - Which One Is For You?

If you’re all new to habit tracking, it’s best to start with a really simple tracker, preferably a digital one, so that you could focus on building the habit, rather than on doing the tracking. 

Also, if you’re the always-on-the-go folks, we recommend using a habit tracking app like Habitify. It’s a multiplatform app that could be on your phone, your laptop or even your smartwatch. Just simply sync your account, and then check your habits anywhere.

choose the habit tracking method
Habitify is a well-designed app with a simple yet attractive interface

Step 3: Choose the measurement unit

Most people never thought of this step: choosing the unit to track our habits. Why? The measurement you choose decides the direction of your growth, hence your results. 

Take the habit of reading books for example. “Reading more” is too general an objective. Is it more books, more pages, or more time? Do you want to cover more knowledge, improve your reading speed, or simply just try to start a reading habit?

Different Key Performance Indicator , different strategies, and different results. 

Since measurement units are important, Habitify has developed features to further assist you at this. Now you can set different measurements for different goals: 

Choose the measurement unit for tracking habits
With Habitify, you can set different measurements for different goals

Also, a big plus is that you can easily sync your health habits with Heath Apps on multiple platforms, from iOS, Android, watchOS, and Website, so all your habits are always automatically and accurately tracked. 

sync habit tracking app with health app
Sync with Health App to enjoy automatically tracking

Step 4: Build the habit of habit tracking

Most of us jump into the whole habit forming process without wondering about the habit of tracking our progress regularly, right? 

In fact, many of us skip the action of tracking habits. It can be a burden as you need to commit to 2 habits at the same time: the habit of trying to build habits and the habit of tracking them. Basically, our brains naturally tend to avoid what’s discomfort. So, that’s why we resist the idea of tracking habits. 

To be frank, if you want to make your tracking more efficient, you need to do it consistently and regularly. In other words, you should make it habitual. Once you do it in such an automatic and natural way, you will put it into the muscle memory of your brain. Then, you do it as an automatic and natural way.  

Personally, one technique I use to make habit tracking become habitual is to make it a habit.  And this simple yet effective way helps me to never forget doing tracking again. 

build the habit of habit tracking
 Try to do habit-tracking everyday with Habitify

Step 5: Analyze

Once you master the habit of tracking habits, and have generated some good amount of progress statistics, the final step is to analyze your habits performance. 

New to this? Let me explain.

If we wish to improve ourselves, we need to understand where we’re at first.

That’s why we always need to look back at our progress, and the best way to assess our performance is through statistics.

Habit metrics are really powerful when it comes to self-reflection. It allows us to go beyond the surface of whether we’re doing the habit or not, and gain deeper self-understanding, define factors affecting our behaviors, hence deriving realistic ways to improve ourselves.

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelming of what you’ve just read, don’t be. It might sound a bit complicated but we have designed Habitify to help you perform all those things in a simple yet effective way. 

All you need to do is follow these three steps: 

#1: Making sense of each key habit metrics

The very first step you need to know is truly understanding some key habit metrics to take an overview of your habit performance. 

Want to explore more about the meaning of these metrics, you can read: Let Data Tell YOUR Story

Firstly, at most basic level, when it comes to habit tracking, you should know the habit streak. Streak shows the length of periods you have marked your habit as Completed without any non-completed intervals from the very first day your habit gets started. Also, streak plays a role of encouraging you to adopt a new habit. Seeing your progress is lining up every day, then you don’t want to break the chain right? 

At Habitify, we develop The Overall Progress Tab, which gives you an overall view of all your habit progress through data and visualization. Such data we provide are: TREND, COMPLETION RATE, CALENDAR, DAILY AVERAGE, TOTAL. 

tracking habits with habitify
The Overall Progress Tab will show you the big picture of all your habits in 5 data dimensions

Equally important, you can also track the performance of a single habit at Habitify’s Single Habit Progress using Streak and Completion Rate. 

how to track habit with habit tracking app
Habitify’s Single Habit Progress gives you an overall view of your habit

#2: Interpret data to assess your habits 

And as you interpret data, each daily, weekly, and monthly report can provide the insights you need to grow your habits.

You will find out which habits are strong to keep them up, and which need some attention to improve. 

For example, from the Habitify Progress Tab, you realize that Reading books is the best performing habit last month, then that effective data will increase your motivation to push you to read more and more. You also see that you’re not drinking enough water as planned, hence you should leave your table, take a short break and have a cup of water the next day. 

interpret data to access your habits
Discover Reading books is the most high-performing habits with Habitify Statistic

#3: Making comparisons to unlock the most important habits

Once you can make improvement for your habit performance, the final step is to compare all your habit progress, and unlock your potential. The aim of this step is to achieve your long-term goal by reflecting the progress of all habits, then focus and give considerable effort on habits that have a huge impact on your goal. 

Once you know what matters most, then you can focus on the most important thing that helps you achieve your result faster, and remove the unnecessary factors. 

Habitify would love to support you, and enjoy your tracking as an easy and funny way. As our user - Pawel from beautiful Poland - a business analyst who is always caught with dreadful reports, but successfully manages stuff that’s important to him, and living a mentally fulfilling life. 

Get started  

Your habit-forming process is a never-ending journey with lots of obstacles outside. Hence, your life long goals need a strategy and constant evaluation. So, all you need to do is keep up the commitment, and constantly make improvements from what you have done. 
With this article, we hope that you’ve got the tools needed to track your habits strategically in order to achieve your long-term goals. However, gathering the know-hows and the tools alone is never enough - you need to get off your duff and take action. Start tracking your habits with Habitify today, build your positive habits, then you will make a difference in no time.