A habit tracker can be a powerful tool to help you change or optimise your health. Anything you track improves and if you have been exposed for a little while to some of my videos and blogs then you would have heard me talk about how much I have seen food diary’s be a transformative example of this.
Another example is the to do list.
Have you ever added a task to your to do list after you have already completed it just to feel the satisfaction of ticking it or crossing it off your list?
Let me know in the comments that I’m not alone with this one.
A habit tracker works in the same way.
Each day when you complete your given health habit you get to tick off that you have completed it and a little dopamine gets released in our brain.
This dopamine release is connected to feelings of pleasure, learning and, maybe most importantly, motivation. When we feel this dopamine rush we are eager to repeat the action again and again or we feel more motivated to do so.
This is just one of the reasons why keeping a habit tracker and also setting and achieving small goals is such an effective way to stay motivated during long-term projects and processes.
Another thing that can be helpful to record on your habit tracker is how automatic the habit feels. This can be powerful to see how the habit is actually getting easier and easier.
Some Tips For Using A Habit Tracker
Although a habit tracker can be powerful, for it to actually lead to habit formation you need to know how a habit is actually formed and how to use this knowledge along with the tracker to get results.
In my previous post on habit development I talk about the Cue, Action & Reward being the three parts of building a habit. Habits are defined as automatic behavioural responses to environmental cues, thought to develop through repetition of behaviour in consistent contexts.
So when you are setting your habit and getting your tracker ready, make sure you know what the cue is. You can even write it down on the tracker. Maybe it’s having coffee, every time you have coffee you then go to the gym. Or maybe the cue is dropping your kids off at school and thats when you do your writing that you want to do more of. Or maybe it’s that you drink a glass of water every time you brush your teeth. Having a cue that is a habit that is already well established makes it easier to develop the habit.
Also don’t forget the reward.
Ticking the habit off your habit tracker might be the first step of the reward but make sure you also set up rewards for completing the activity weekly or monthly until it becomes weird to not undertake the activity.
How To Set Up Your Habit Tracker
When it comes to what to use as a habit tracker it comes down to what works best for you. For me I love using paper to track habits, to use as a for diary and a to do list. Even when I travelling a lot (16 countries in 2016) I still carried around paper journals and checklists (much to the dismay of my husband who is totally happy with an online version and ends up carrying my super heavy bags).
Here is the habits tracker I love to use.
But if you are looking for something a little more high tech you could use an online spreadsheet or an app.
Habit Tracker Spreadsheet
If you’re a spreadsheet fiend, you can set up a simple sheet to track whether you complete your habit each day. This is a good way to make your tracking more visual so you can get an idea of a glance about how you’re going.
Google sheets is a free option for creating custom web based spreadsheets.
There are so many great apps that you can use for habit tracking. Here are some good ones to look into to get you started:
- Habit Bull
- 43 Things
An Added Bonus Of Developing A New Habit.
Starting on one positive habit actually has a flow on effect to so many other healthy habits.
Published in 2006, a study conducted by Australian researchers looked at whether willpower could be increased or strengthened over time. Was willpower actually just like a muscle and with regular “exercise” could it be built. To test the theory they put a group of people through a two month exercise program where they went to the gym 3x per week.
To test their results, all participants were made to undertake an assessment of willpower before, during and after the two months of exercise. The conclusion was that exercise did actually boost your ability to resist willpower sapping tasks and do well on activities that require high willpower. But these participants also improved in a whole bunch of other health activities such as smoking less, ate less junk food, spent less money and saved more and lost their temper. So developing the habit of exercise actually had flow on effects to all other areas of their life and it wasn’t actually just because of the exercise.
To test if any healthy habit would do, the experiment was conducted again however this time the healthy habit the participants were assisted to develop was tracking their spending and another group study skills. In both of these groups again all healthy habits improved not just the habit they were working on developing. They also improved willpower and showed that willpower can be improved and increased over time with the tracking and development of just one healthy habit.
Your Habit Tracker
Click HERE to download for FREE your own habit tracker and get started!!
I’d also love to know in the comments below, what habit are you trying to develop and why?
To your health,
P.S. Missed the habits tracker from last week? Click HERE to download for FREE 🙂