“What gets measured, gets managed.” – Peter Drucker
Changing a habit isn’t as hard as you’d think. What it really comes down to is creating metrics that can be tracked on a daily basis and finding the willpower to follow through with your desire to make a change.
Okay, I’ll admit “willpower” is a pretty lengthy topic. So we’re not going to talk about it in this post. What I DO want to cover is a simple way to measure and change any habit you desire. Here’s how to do it…
Why you should Measure ALL Habits
We all have habits we’d like to develop. Sometimes, it’s eliminating a bad habit like smoking and other times it’s developing something that brings a positive result to our lives.
I’ve found the key to all successful habits is to use metrics. So instead of saying you’d like to lose weight, its better set a realistic, measurable goal and monitor it on a daily basis.
The quote at the beginning of this post, says it all – What gets measured, gets managed. Instead of wishing for a habit change, you set a hard figure and monitor the results every single day.
One Sheet to Rule them All!
I believe in simple solutions. You can’t change a habit unless it’s easy to monitor and track. Furthermore, this process shouldn’t involve a massive amount of documents.
In fact, if you click on the image to the left you’d see all my tracking is done on a simple piece of paper.
How’s that for simple?
You probably also noticed I’ve also included my weekly and monthly habits. They’re included because I don’t like to use a lot of documents to manage my life.
But for the sake of this post, we’re not going to talk about weekly or monthly habits. Instead we’ll take a look at the seven daily activities I’m concentrating on this month (January 2011):
Veggies and Fruit: Living out of backpack for seven months has created a lot of bad dietary habits. Specifically I have to eat more vegetables and fruit. The “veggie” and “fruits” habit is easy to measure. 0 for NOT eating them. 1 for eating them.
My goal is a minimum of 20 in each. That means I must eat fruits and a vegetables at least two out of every three days. Obviously, I’ll increase this number as the months go on. Eventually I’ll get to a solid 30 each month!
Diet: In addition to eating more fruits and veggies, my overall diet has to improve. So I’m using a scale of 1 to 5 to measure this. 1 is a crappy junk food day. 5 is a day filled with healthy, nutritious food. The numbers in between is a sliding scale depending on what I’ve eaten.
My goal is 100 for the month. That comes out to an average of 3.3 each day – Slightly above average. Probably for February, I’ll bump this up to 120 which mean that most meals are healthy and nutritious.
Run: I’ve been running for what seems like forever, so I’m not really worried about changing this habit. But, I hate dealing with extra paper. So I also use this sheet to track my mileage.
My goal is 140 miles for the month. That’s an average of 35 per week. I’m going to run a marathon in April, so this number will definitely go up in the months ahead. For now, this is a pretty conservative figure.
Weight: I’m a little above my optimal weight thanks to the unholy trinity of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. So I can stand to lose a few pounds.
My goal is an average of 167 pounds – With a target of being 165 by February 1st.
This habit really isn’t a big deal to me. But I’m changing my diet and exercising a lot, so I think it’s also important to also monitor my weight.
Writing: I feel a successful Internet business boils down to content creation. So a major goal is to write every day for at least an hour. Like the veggies/fruit habit, 0 means I did it and 1 means I didn’t.
My goal is 25 for the month. That gives me about a day off each week.
Social: I’m not going to mince words. I suck at the social aspect of social media. While I’m good at automating things and posting content to these sites, I’m not very good at regularly interacting with people on sites like Twitter and Facebook.
I’ve decided to dedicate three, 10 minute blocks of time each day to talking to people on these sites. Each block of time is a ‘1’ on the daily habit sheet. So if I do social media three times in a day, it gets scored as a ‘3.’
My goal is 45 for the month. That’s an average of 1.5 each day. In February, this number will be bumped up to 60 – Averaging out to be twice a day.
Free Daily Habits Tracking Template
To help you out, here’s a PDF of the daily habits tracking sheet. I included a sample of what I’ve discussed in this post, PLUS a template you can use to track your own habit changes.
If you like this sheet, feel free to pass it along to your friends OR recommend this post to others.
How to Use this Daily Habit Sheet
If you’re not sure how to get started, then take a look at these two posts:
- 52 Daily Success Habits to Develop…Starting Today
- 42 Internet Lifestyle Success Habits to Develop in 2011
The first post is more generalized and concentrates on all aspects of personal development. The second focuses on the critical habits that can help you design the perfect Internet lifestyle. Use this document for what’s most important to YOU: Personal, professional or a combination of both.
My advice is to use this sheet to monitor a few habits each month. Focus on the habits you’ve already developed AND also use it to monitor ones you wish to significantly change. The key point here is to place a numerical value on every habit. Then track it every day!
Overall, you’d be surprised at how well this sheet can manage everything you do on a regular basis. It removes all guesswork and increases the amount of mental energy that can be devoted to other areas in your life.
Well, that’s it! Let me know what you think…Take Action. Get Results.