Use this Document to Change ANY Habit

“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!

Daily Habits Change Sheet

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:

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.

40 thoughts on “Use this Document to Change ANY Habit”

  1. Hi Steve

    Thanks for giving the pdf, as I was reading through the post I was thinking oh oh i need to create a sheet ha!

    I will try my best to try and fill it in, I am always good at doing these sort of things for the first few days then seem to lose momentum!

    I look forward to seeing what content you create so will be back to your blog for some updates as I am very interested in Affiliate and Internet Marketing.


    • Alex,

      Glad you liked the article and also the pdf! : ) . And hopefully they are useful and helpful for you. if you can get yourself to religiously fill it out for 20 days or so you should be able to make it a habit. Supposedly that is how long it takes to make something a habit. Of course you may find that that modified a bit for what “works” free may be needed. The most important part is that you have something that works for you.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, have a wonderful day!

  2. I love the simplicity of this, and goal-setting makes a lot more sense when you can assign a number to your target. But my analytical side wants charts and graphs and algorithms to calculate the percentage of improvement.

    Still, I’m going to give this a try. Maybe I should add a column for “Goal Tracking” to my goal-tracking worksheet. :/

    • Cindy,

      If you already are using the goal tracking worksheet adding a column for tracking to it is probably the best way to go. I like to things as simple as possible but like you say some people like charts graphs and so much more. It all depends on what makes you comfortable.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a great comment and I hope you have a wonderful day!

  3. Great post! I use something similar, but I usually write down what was actually done. I really like the 1 and 0 idea though, as long as you know they key, it makes it a lot easier.

    Also, thanks for including the PDF!

    • Any way to keep track is good as long as you are keeping track. I like to keep it as simple as possible while still getting everything tracked. I think people to be successful doing a follow a lot less tracking and also be successful doing far more. The important thing is that each person is comfortable with what they do and they do at least have some form of tracking and measuring of goals.

  4. Hi Steve,

    Everybody loves a simple way to change bad habits.

    I agree fully with what gets measured, gets managed. Often when we are shackled by our bad habits like Leia to Jabba the Hutt, we are not aware of just much our habits are costing us in terms of time, health and money. If we could just sit down and measure these figures, we would gain greater awareness of our habits that could contribute to our desire to change them. The more we are aware of the cons of our habits and the pros of changing it, the more we will want to change.

    Simplicity is the key, the simpler and easier it is for us, the more likely we are to stick to it. Having clear and simple goals is really the best way to focus our energies and make the changes we want to see in our lives. I love your template for tracking habit changes. It makes it so easy for us to make the changes we want to in our lives. Thank you for also showing us how to use the daily habit sheet with your earlier posts as well. It does make your points clearer for us as well.

    Thanks for sharing this useful article on changing habits, the simple way! 🙂

    Irving the Vizier

    • Irving

      “shackled by our bad habits like Leia to Jabba the Hutt” That is one of the best analogies I’ve heard in a long time. I really had to laugh when I read that, it brings a great visual!

      I agree a few simple is the best, sometimes I can get a little bit anal on making lists and stuff but I do try to knock them down and keep them as simple and easy as possible. For some people that might want to make it even simpler, for others they make it far far far more in depth. In almost all depends upon the person. Like I said before all that really matters is that are my some sort of system to track and ultimately analyze how they’re doing.

      Thanks for stopping by and dropping a great comment, have a wonderful day!

  5. As a dietitian I like how you simplify your nutrition and physical activity goals. It is those small, simple steps that make it easier to enact change. Giving yourself a month to achieve goals gives more wiggle room for you to reach your targets. At Meals Matter, we’ve got a New Year, New Approach plan to help make nutrition easier this year. If you want to make changes to their diet but is unsure where to begin, the Personal Nutrition Planner is a great place to find ideas that can fit into Steve’s tracker . Good luck!

  6. Hi Steve

    This is why you write such amazing posts and why I appear to be everywhere. Cos I spend so much time on Twitter and blog hopping while you are writing posts lol

    Now the diet…..what is it with fruit & veggie?!. You are fit with your running so was surprised that you weren’t into all the healthy foods. Good on you for aiming to change that 🙂

    Sounds like you aim to make quite a few changes in 2011 and I’m sure you will do it. I make ‘to do’ lists for my blog and my fledgling business, but not for other areas of my life.

    Can see how it works for you Steve. Will be interested to hear your progress with the lifestyle changes. Go Steve 🙂

    Patricia Perth Australia

    • HAHA,

      we need to trade a little bit, I will do little e-book writing for you if you do a little twittering for me. 🙂 That is definitely my weak point. Part of it is that I’m scared to get too involved and have it soak up my productive time. anyhoo….

      as for the fruit and veggies it is not so much that I’m in horrible shape (though I have put on a few pounds) it is more case of my diet being SO BAD. Most of what I’ve been eating stuff like burgers and pizza since I’ve been back. Not very good stuff.

      I look forward to seeing your progress is on your blog and business also. I’m sure you’re going to crush it this year!

  7. Hi Steve,

    Adding the numerical value creates order in your mind. I like the idea of connecting a number with your daily habits.

    Numbers instantly make sense. The use of numbers creates clarity and definiteness. Either you hit a number desired or your don’t. No grey area.

    Daily habits become easier to break when you become aware of your habits. Holding an idea in your mind is useless as we have some 60,000 thoughts per day. Holding a piece of paper with goals and numbers lined up beside each benchmark is a different story. Habits will change when numerals stare back at you.

    I’ve also rededicated myself to being more sociable on social sites. It’s one thing to drop in for a minute or 2 but quite different to establish meaningful connections on sites like twitter and Facebook. Hitting each site 2-3 times per day for 20 minutes at a pop and engaging seems to work for me.

    Thanks for sharing your insight Steve.


    • Ryan,

      you’re right it is much easier to simply deal with a number. I do leave myself a little wiggle room to see some of the numbers are based on a sliding scale. For the week so I have a hard number that this point is very doable.

      I feel you more sociable things since that is one of my big things too. It is a tough balance because I will point you do not want all your productivity sucked up by being, “social”. At the same time it is nice to connect an enjoyable on a social level and also solid from a business perspective. Hopefully it is something we shall both get better at.

      Have a wonderful day Ryan!

  8. Hi Steve,

    Measurement is certainly a great tool for change, but willpower alone often doesn’t seem enough. The problem with habit changing is that habits are usually so ingrained by constant repetition, that all kinds of stimuli from the environment or certain circumstances will likely trigger someone to fall back into the habit quickly. All too often because the habit brings a sense of comfort amidst stressful moments.

    I think these stimuli are often neglected and underestimated.
    For example, a lot of habits are really hard to change if you’re tired. So if one of your habits is to stay up late and sleep little, then it will be very difficult to change any other long-time habit.

    But tools for measurement are definitely helpful!
    For one, it brings a daily feeling of progress and achievement if doing well, and awareness of the need to change things around otherwise. 🙂


    • Sylvan,

      Makes really good points. Specifically about being tired. that can be a huge factor, and having a period where you’re well rested when trying to start a new habit is fairly important. Starting a new habit when you are allready stressed out is generally bad idea.

      Generally the best way to start a habit is to only do one at a time. Take 20-30 days of doing a new habit, then at the end of that period try to add a new habit in. Hopefully by that time first habit should be ingrained.

  9. I’ve used a very similar system in the past, and it works wonders to not only keep track of what you are getting up to, but also provides motivation cos you want to fill in those boxes.

    • Nice to see you again here David!

      I hope everything is going awesome with you for the new year!

      I agree the idea (for me at least) of leaving a box unchecked will literally keep me up at night. That makes it the little extra impetus to actually get things done.

  10. Hi Steve:

    You have done it again a great post about a new topic at your site. Wonderful way of choosing a new subject every time. I liked your book too. Thank you I have read half of it.

    Make it an awesome day for yourself.

    fran A

  11. Steve,
    Great idea. If it is too complicated, then we would get bored and not do it. Thanks for the sheet.

    Hope you have a great New Year and lose the weight you want to lose. That is a hard one to do, but we all often gain a bit around those food i days (not holidays. lol)

    • Cool!

      I am glad you liked it Shane. Hopefully you do get some use out of the PDF. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

      I hope you’re having a wonderful day

    • Ralph,

      I think for my next trick I am going to teach whole bunch of birds to stop flying while they are high up in the sky, flying. There done. That conspiracy theorists will never figure it out.

  12. Steve, loved your “handy dandy” form and shared it with others. Smiled when I read Ralph’s comment. Did you read “The 4 Hour Body” by Timothy Ferriss yet?

    • Janet,

      Glad you liked it.

      Yes, I have read the Four hour body more than one time. I like that a lot. I had been doing what Ferris talked about in the book long before it, but he really put words to the concept that I have been living. my personal beliefs lean a little bit more towards Gary Vaynerchuck and “Crush It” up.

      Both are excellent books ( along with quite a few others) for describing the basic Internet lifestyle that I promote on this website. If you swing by again I’m sure you’ll see me talking about both books from time to time.

      I’m also currently reading the “4 Hour Body”, but I make no claims I having any sort of expertise on fitness outside of perhaps running.

      • Definitely, Steve, I’ll be back often. I like the diversity of your articles and the quality of the content. Aloha. Janet

  13. Steve, I have a really bad habit in that I can’t stop cracking my knuckles. I can see how what you’re saying can be helpful in things such as smoking and improving your diet and such, but can you think of a way in which it can help me to stop my bad habit?

    • Sire,

      You really did pick a tough one! Cracking knuckles such an automatic response, that you do it off without even thinking about it. That makes it very difficult (obviously) try to break.

      I am no expert at breaking these tough traits but I would say something like keeping track of it in this way in conjunction with another form of therapy

      For instance: tie a string around your finger that will remind you when you automatically go to crack your fingers that you’re not supposed to do it. Then keep track of how many times you violate this. Hopefully the number decreases. When you get to the point where you go 20 days or so without violating it it should hopefully be fairly ingrained.

      Semi-autonomic responses like cracking knuckles can be devilishly hard to break on your own, perhaps in some ways more difficult than smoking, since you often do it without even consciously thinking about.

      You sure as heck did pick a tough one! hopefully this helps a little bit, but probably not.

      • Sorry mate, I hope it didn’t stress you out too much. You are right though, it is pretty automatic, the wife reckons I even do it in my sleep 🙁 The way she stops me is by elbowing me in the ribs which certainly works. She also tells me off when I do it in her presence but she’s not always around.

        Reckon I’ll need something thicker than a string around my finger because I don’t look at them when doing it. Oh well, if I happen to come across something I’ll pop back to let you know.

  14. Steve – this is really something that I would do.

    Actually, most of my problem solving is done by making lists and sorting them. Perhaps everyone’s is and I was just unaware. Nonetheless, I love the last few posts!

    I know it is still early in the year, but the heading “One Sheet to Rule them All!” is likely to be in my top 5 favorite headings of 2011!

    Downloaded, used, bookmarked, tweeted, dugg, and some other stuff. Thanks Steve. 🙂

    @Sire – I used to do the same thing. I found that working to relax my hands when I got the urge to crack my knuckles worked really well. Replacing your action with something that is not bad for you is a good idea, IMO. Very hard at first, but it worked and I have not done that in years.

    • Glad you liked the “one sheet to rule them all” 😉

      And thanks for all the social media love! It is always appreciated!

      I still think there may be a lot of people out there who do not make lists at all. Everyone develops a system that works for them, and what works….works. No need to reinvent the wheel.

      But for less efficient systems or people who do not solve by lists at all, hopefully they will get into the idea that taking time to plan and list can be of great assistance of success.

  15. OMG, Steve, you didn’t follow my weekly fitness challenges for the 6 weeks before xmas to help mitigate weight gain, did you? SHAME!

    Well, I am still proud of you for knowing you need to get back on track with the veggies and running. Don’t forget to use strength training. Only running without strength training would be like only using SEO to gain rankings without link building. That’s right, I said it!

    • 🙁 I know I was bad!!! Thankfully I havnen’t put on too much. Just have to change up those habits.

      I have been workin some strength training in. I joined a gym about 2 weeks ago, and have had a few Str. workouts since then. Those were really my first str. workouts since before my trip to Europe. (they HURT!) But definetely trying to work my way back, in a “not killing myself” fashion. 🙂

      I certainly wouldn’t want to SEO without link Building after all. 😉

  16. dude,

    Repitition repitition and repitition. Last year I made a few resolutions and thought it would be so hard to maintain. looking back now i do a lot of the things I set out to do, some of which with out even thinking about. Practice really does make perfect.

    • One more time: repetition. you’re absolutely right if you do new task for 20 to 30 days repeating it again and again every day does begin a normal part of routine. After that it’s all gravy!

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