So, 2018 has made its grand entrance.
You have your resolutions on the table (maybe).
The question is—will you ever get to them?
Is it going to be the same story again where you give up on your resolutions midway?
Maybe, maybe not…
* * *
Oh yes, Happy New Year! Guess what? I spent NYE at home. No heading out, no countdown, no drinks, no people. Surprise, surprise! I’m not upset. I simply miss my bed.
Let’s cut to the chase because I am excited to share the ‘Habit Tracker’, a journaling style that I discovered a couple of months back while browsing through Instagram (mainly via @lifebywhitney who is a journaling genius). Before that, some context below.
2017 journaling experience
Throughout 2017, I was using the Traveler’s Notebook (midori size) as my main public journal. I bought three types of diary inserts: Monthly, Weekly Horizontal, Weekly Vertical—all already dated. Very, very honestly speaking, I’m so done with weekly journals. They are an absolute pain to maintain if nothing much going on every single day. My life isn’t that happening on a daily basis and I’m not the most hardworking person kay. Sure, one would recommend filling the blank, lonely spaces with quotes and what not but personally, I don’t see the productivity in doing so unless you’re really into quotes or writing lines weekly like a kindergarten kid. Wait, did you say leave it so minimal? What a waste of good quality Japanese paper…
I have no complaints about the monthly insert, which I have purchased again for 2018. I know that this insert will be used well to summarise each month and also include my usual highlights at the bottom for reference—a habit I picked up so that I can compile everything into a spread at the start of the following year. They help a lot in recollecting memories that you could’ve easily forgotten throughout the year.
Pictured above is the two-page reflection spread inclusive of resolutions from the previous year and a very summarised report on them. Feel free to replicate it.
For 2018, I already know that I won’t be able to commit to ones that are designed for dated weekly and daily entries. In attempt to make journaling more productive, I picked up the Free Diary <Daily> insert (item 005) for the Traveler’s Notebook. In a grid format, each insert has a total of 60 undated days—a design which helps a whole lot in reducing the stress and pressure to pen down every single thing every day.
Creating your Habit Tracker
What are your resolutions or long-term goals? How can you achieve them?
Habit Trackers have many functions—namely to focus on smaller goals at a time as they are monitored daily, weekly or monthly. If you have bigger, long-term goals already penned down and you’re figuring out how to achieve them, Habit Trackers will do you well. They are often used amongst the bullet journaling community but I think this is a flexible system that can be used across any type of notebook, so long as you have a pen to get started.
The first step is to break it down. If, for example, your goal is to run for a marathon, use the Habit Tracker to mark if you have completed a certain number of kilometres weekly. Example #2, if you plan to save $6k by the end of the year for a new phone or laptop, the Habit Tracker is great for you to keep in touch with your savings. Other suggestions include:
- Drinking water
- Not snack before bed
- Say ‘good night’ to your parents/roommate/sibling
- Show gratitude to somebody
- Read a short article
- Stop typing “lol” at the end of every text – some people are serious about this
- Do morning stretches
- Don’t complain
- Put $10 in the jar
- Take vitamins
The list goes on and on but if you have an end-goal to focus on, these small “habits” will be more purposeful:
- Drinking water – Reminding yourself to hydrate
- Not snack before bed – To control your hunger at night
- Say ‘good night’ to your parents/roommate/sibling – Be in touch with your loved ones
- Show gratitude to somebody – Appreciating others around you
- Read a short article – Improve reading skills and focus
- Stop typing “lol” at the end of every text – Keep your messages clean
- Do morning stretches – To feel more fresh every day
- Don’t complain – Patience tester
- Put $10 in the jar – To save up for a year-end trip
- Take vitamins – Some people need reminders to take their medication
Interestingly enough, while doing some research online, some “habits” include paying bills, watering plants (easily forgotten, I can vouch for that), and going to bed on time. For couples, track how active your sex life is—especially if you would like to have kids and need to monitor how lifestyle differences or changes affect your mood. The possibilities are endless!
This is my Habit Tracker for the month of January. Yes, odd numbers are annoying but we have to suck it up and deal with it. The grids have made it foolproof for designing the chart and this is really easy to draw out. Anyone can replicate this, trust me. I made no reference online while doing this. Easy peasy!
Insert: Free Diary <Daily>  Traveler’s Notebook
Protip: If you have a lined journal, simply use a ball pen to draw vertical lines.
Habit Tracker Template [CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD]
For those who do not own a journal and wish to not purchase one, I have designed a monthly Habit Tracker template for you to download, print (at your office maybe), and use at your own ease—FOR FREE.
How do I use this?
- List out ten habits that you would like to do (or not do). Keep the outcome positive so that the next step will ensure you have less blank or crossed out spaces by the end of the month.
- Colour in the days where your habit is “done”. For negative habits, if you have managed to avoid them, colour in as “done”. e.g. If you wrote “No McDonald’s” (negative habit) and you didn’t have McDonald’s for the day, colour in (positive outcome). If you had, leave it blank or cross out.
- Cross out or leave blank the dates where your habit is “not done”.
Each page is for one month. At the bottom of the chart, you can see two sections:
- Highlights: To record anything important that has happened for that month
- For Improvement: After evaluating your own Habit Tracker, what would you like to focus on next month? Will they help you achieve your future goals? How can you improvise to speed up a certain process or make it better and more efficient?
A couple more tips
The free sheet above has only ten spaces to fill up. I decided to not include more than that because having more than ten items to track each month on a daily basis would be insane. Keep them straightforward and fuss-free to interpret.
If you have a notebook or journal already (ideally A5 or midori-sized), draw in your own Habit Tracker. You don’t have to write numbers in each space (unless you’re punishing yourself). Your sheet does not have to be fancy-schmancy but if you’d like to make them gorgeous, here are some ideas:
- Tombow Dual Brush Pens — Use brighter colours like orange, light green, or any that are not opaque.
- Koi Colouring Brush Pens — Current favourite: Coral Red.
- ZIG Brushables — Those of lighter shades for shading work too.
- Zebra Mildliner Highlighters — These are also pretty for photos btw!
- Stabilo Boss Pastel Highlighters — I just got them recently from Cziplee because they were on sale, and I absolutely love them because they’re so cute and tiny.
p.s. Touch Turq = Touch of Turquoise (the full name was too long so I discovered this short term somewhere online and thought it was brilliant)
My style changes whenever I want to as the months go by, so I will be experimenting with more designs if I can. Keep up with my updates on Instagram! Current goal is to recreate the round-shaped Habit Tracker.
Do not throw away your previous sheets!! Store them in a folder or put them up on your refrigerator. No, this is not Hoarder Emily telling you to not throw things away. Your sheets are great to look back on at the end of the year.
Last but not least, I feel I should remind you that the Habit Tracker is NOT a punisher. Do not beat yourself up if you cave in for a soda when you’re supposed to be off sugary drinks for the entire month. Do not throw a fit if you don’t seem to be colouring in every single day. Instead, take time at the end of the month to evaluate on your progress and then create little goals from there onwards. It is perfectly okay to compromise with yourself. The point here is to be able to make progress at your own pace.
Happy journaling! Feel free to tag me to share your Habit Trackers :)
Entry inspired by my dear friend, Gwen.