(my personal systems for tracking self-improvement in all areas of my life)
I’m improving all areas of my life. I do this by following daily disciplines connected to the outputs I want to achieve. I track my daily disciplines.
In fact, whenever I start a new habit, I track it. This is one of the pillars of my Infallible Framework for Habits Development.
Here is a description of how did I go about tracking my progress and what are the universal lessons in my story that others can implement.
The most basic thing you can do to track your habit is a simple tick somewhere that you’ve done what you resolved to do. You can mark it in your wall calendar, you can do it using an app. I track about two dozen daily habits in the Coach.me application.
It’s hardly possible to invent a simpler tracking system. You mark whether you’ve done your discipline or not.
When it comes to my daily exercises I only register if I did them or not, and I track my fitness records.
I track all expenses and the simplest first step to do this is collecting all the recipes for my purchases.
I’m always a proponent of simplicity in tracking. The less invasive the tracking is and the more integrated it is with a given discipline, the better.
Let’s imagine you want to track your workouts and you work out in your room at home with a wall calendar. It’s much easier to mark your workout on this calendar than to go upstairs to your home office, turn on the computer, connect to the app and mark it there.
The least invasive tracking is self-evident. I don’t track my journaling per se. Each entry is a mark in itself. I just open my journal (which is really a notebook calendar) and I see if I journaled or not.
Every day, I send my wife a gif of a cute animal, usually a kitty or puppy. It’s enough for me to scroll the feed to see if I did it today or not.
Sometimes you need more information than just the knowledge of whether you completed your discipline or not. I track my sleep. Every day I note down in my online journal how long I slept and napped. I used to note down the times when I went to bed and woke up, later I simplified it to just the amount of sleep.
When I worked on losing excess weight I kept a food journal. I registered every substance which contained calories that went into my mouth.
When I kept a time journal I registered the start and stop times of my activities, what were those activities and sometimes added some remarks.
I keep a writing log where I note down the date, start and stop time, the subject and language, where I wrote and for how long. Sometimes I add comments to those entries, especially if I write surprisingly slow or fast to find the source of this performance.
I track my book sales. It’s kind of journaling too. In fact, I combine data from my ad campaigns and my daily royalties from Amazon to see if I’m getting ahead of the ads’ cost. It’s quite a complicated process where I need to download my ads’ data from the UK and US market, open them in Excel, calculate the summaries and register the numbers in my Google tracking sheet.
Journaling is a Universal Tracking Tool
You can journal with words, numbers or even with symbols. When I had been developing a silence habit, I tracked my utterances with symbols and strokes.
Then, at the end of the day, I counted the strokes. I counted the number of longer conversations (C). I also had a special category of interactions, when I couldn’t let myself be quiet or drawl my words, like during business meetings (B). I marked them, as well, in my notepad.
With some ingenuity, you can apply journaling to practically everything.
You can use various tools. I use pen and paper, an online app, TXT files, Google and Excel sheets.
Whatever you want to improve, write it down. Write it down every single day in some form or another. Writing is the universal measuring system.
Journaling Provides Data
I journal about my business activities in the online journal. It’s not for bragging (almost no one read those notes anyway) but to keep my mind at work. I recently neglected this activity and I observed how my performance suffered.
Apart from being a focusing tool, this journal is also a rich deposit of data. Every month I publish an income report and my journal is the main source of my memories about day-to-day activities.
The same goes for my personal journal. I review it once a week. Sometimes I go back in time and can see what was going through my mind three or five years ago.
Whatever you write, you can re-use. I compiled questions from my journals into a lead magnet to my email list. I used screens from my food journal and time journal in my books. More than once, my morning journaling session was the beginning of a book, article or a blog post.
Whatever you use for tracking, it must serve you. Don’t adopt others’ systems if they are not suited to your situation. There may be a brilliant online budgeting tool available for just $15 a month, but if you are dirt poor, you’d better start budgeting with pen and paper.
There may be brilliant time management apps available for mobiles, but if you don’t even own a smartphone there is no point in trying to use them.
I found a pen and notepad the most universal tools. Not only I can carry them with me all the time, but I can also track practically everything with them.
What Gets Measured Gets Improved
I read about two times faster than six years ago.
I earn twice as much as six years ago.
I am healthy. I got sick only three times since July 2013. I beat over 200 personal fitness records. My allergy symptoms greatly subdued.
I pray a lot more than in the past.
I developed dozens of daily habits.
I sleep much better (read: longer).
I liberated my wife from a day job and downsized my day job to 10 hours a week. I have three new stable sources of income.
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Don’t idly admire my systems. Get busy with developing your own tracking systems and improving your life.
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