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How to More Effectively use Habit Trackers

The alarm went off but without thinking about it, I would hop out of bed, turn the alarm off and get right back in bed. I would do this 3 or 4 times until there were no more alarms left. So when I’d get back into bed, I overslept through morning appointments and the beginning of work.

I woke up groggy and confused on how I “missed my alarm” each time. It was around the 5th day of doing this that I realized that I was creating a habit loop. I was becoming accustomed to getting up and turning off my alarm, completely on auto-pilot. I wasn’t remembering how many alarms I actually had set nor was I considering that each time I got back in bed I made it harder to get up and start my day.

Because I noticed this unhealthy habit forming, I was able to stop it before it became too concrete. The good thing about a habit tracker is that it helps bring awareness to habits that you are performing regularly and to habits that you miss frequently. As you see that certain habits are being missed, you can prioritize those and decide what changes will be necessary to make sure you complete a habit.

Habit Loops

That’s what helped me get out of the habit loop I was forming. I changed where I set my phone and only set two alarms. I would tell myself before bed “you only have two alarms.” This forced me to get up after the second one because I was more aware that I didn’t have unlimited attempts. Changing where my phone was also helped establish a new habit. Small changes can help your brain reroute and relearn.

That’s the thing with habits. Many of our habits are tied to one another. You wake up and brush your teeth. You workout and shower after. You make dinner and wash dishes after. The challenge becomes, for instance, when you decide that after making dinner you don’t want to wash the dishes. So instead you procrastinate and watch tv for 3 hours. The more you make this decision the more that habit is reinforced and will continue. So now without even trying you will make dinner and find yourself watching tv.

Track Habits in Pairs

Because habits are linked, it can be a good idea to track your habits in pairs. Tracking habits in pairs can encourage that habits are completed efficiently. Because in our example above, we don’t just care about if we eventually washed dishes but that we efficiently made dinner and washed dishes quickly after.

Now of course things habit. We aren’t robots so there will be times when something interrupts our habit loop and how we’ve paired our habits. Aiming for this versus just accepting the procrastination can result in improvements in accomplishing your habits. Setting this up is really easy. For each habit that is paired to another, you’ll write in both habits on one line.

Example: Workout and drink protein shake

Again, this helps highlight the importance of completing both habits together. If you workout at 6am but don’t remember to drink your protein shake until 3pm, the effect is not necessarily as great.

More Habit Tracker Pairing Examples

  • Brush teeth and floss
  • Brush teeth and then wash face/do skincare routine
  • Turn off alarm and leave phone at a distance in the mornings
  • Cook dinner and pack lunch
  • Take lunch break and get a 30 minute walk in
  • Dust house and vacuum
  • Make plans and enter the date on your calendar immediately
  • Plan meals and write grocery list
  • Put up grocers and begin meal prep
  • Make bed and drink a glass of water
  • Journal and say affirmations
  • Pray and read a Bible verse

The good news is that you can pair your habits in whatever way makes the most sense to you and works the best with your current healthy habits. You can make changes as you see what feels right for your schedule and lifestyle. Keep in mind that it won’t always feel natural. We talk about creating routines and habits, but we already have a set routine and set habits. The goal is to make those routines and habits the healthiest in hopes of the greatest outcomes.

Habit Tracker Additions

I like to include limits and desired outcomes to my habit tracker. I write in limits I have for tv watching, social media consumption, food I eat, and whatever I’m focused on at that time. The desired outcomes also serves as a reminder of my “why” behind my limits. It’s hard for me to give up sweets, but it’s even harder when I don’t have a reason. My limit might include not buying sweets, but I also have to be prepared for moments when desserts will be offered at work or social events.

Considering all factors that can effect your ability to perform your habits can make the difference between successfully adding a new habit versus having the intention but no action. What are some other factors that tend to impact your habits? Share those in the comments and/or add them to your habit tracker.

Habit Trackers

Some of the habit trackers below have different variations. I hope you find one that works for you! Let me know if you have any suggestions on the trackers.

I hope you enjoyed this post about using habit trackers!

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