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The Complete Guide to Habit Trackers (+ Free Printable Habit Tracker Template)

Your habits matter. They’re what bring your goals to life. But how do you know if you’re actually forming a habit, or whether you just think you are? That’s where habit trackers come in.

November bullet journal habit tracker spread in purple

What is a habit tracker?

A habit tracker is a visual way of keeping track of when you complete a certain task. The idea is that when you complete a task on a regular basis, it becomes a habit.

For some people, a habit tracker is as simple as putting a mark in their calendar each day. But bullet journalers have found success by using spreads to form their habits. Read on to find out why we think that’s the better approach.

Why use a habit tracker?

There are three main reasons why people start using habit trackers:

  • Your habit tracker keeps you motivated. You don’t want to look back at an empty month with nothing marked off your calendar.
  • You feel a sense of accomplishment. Every time you mark off another completed day in your habit tracker, you’re comforted by the fact that you’re progressing towards your goals.
  • You’re reminded of what you need to do. When a habit hasn’t been formed yet, it’s easy to forget about it when your day gets busy. But your habit tracker gives you the gentle nudge that you need to stay… well, on track!

But there’s another reason we love habit trackers.

A reason that’s far more strategic…

Your habit tracker helps you see why you have (or haven’t) been able to reach your goals. At the end of each month, you’re able to look back at the tasks you completed and see how they’re linked with the goals you were hoping to achieve.

If you achieved your goals and completed all your habits, then you know that those were the right habits to bring your goals to life.

If you missed your goals and didn’t complete your habits, it becomes clear why. So, rather than beating yourself up over it or feeling frustrated, you have a clear plan for next month to help turn those goals into your reality. If you’re still struggling, ask yourself how you can make those habits easier to achieve.

But if you missed your goals and still completed all your habits, you’re able to learn from that. You know that those habits weren’t the right ones to help you accomplish your goals. And you’re able to adjust those habits for the next month, whilst ensuring that you don’t waste your precious time or energy on the wrong thing.

You achieved your goalsYou missed out on your goals
You completed all of your habitsYou’re on the right track! Keep doing what you’re doing!It looks like these aren’t the right habits for you. Check-in with your goals and the tasks you need to achieve them.
You didn’t form any habitsThis is unusual, but ask yourself what you did instead. Can you spot any other tasks that helped bring your goals to life?Don’t stress. Try again next month. And look at how you can make your habits less overwhelming and easier to follow.

The link between habit trackers and bullet journaling

You could keep your habit tracker on your wall, on your fridge door or above your desk. Or, you could keep your habit tracker in your bullet journal.

When you put your habit tracker up in your home, it’s all too easy for them to become part of the furniture. At first, you notice it every day. Because it’s new. But then? It becomes just another decoration that you walk past each day.

That’s why we love keeping your habit tracker inside your bullet journal. Not only does it enable you to check in with your progress every day in a very intentional way, but it helps you turn bullet journaling into a habit too! And we all know the benefits that journaling can bring.

A big list of habit tracker ideas

The key to a successful habit is making sure that it’s a habit that’s important to you.

Remember, your habits don’t always have to be about progress in the traditional sense. Perhaps you want to do more of the things that bring you joy. Maybe you’re looking to destress. Or you could simply want to find a new creative hobby. Whatever it is, a habit can help get you there.

Health and fitness habit tracker ideas

  • Daily exercise
  • Morning meditation
  • Regular journaling
  • Healthy eating
  • No smoking
  • Reduced alcohol consumption
  • Therapy sessions
  • Time outdoors
  • Phone calls with friends
  • Less time on social media

Work or studying habit tracker ideas

  • Content planning
  • Blogging
  • Social media content creation
  • Recording videos
  • Reading educational books
  • Researching key topics
  • Taking a course or programme
  • Writing a newsletter
  • Attending networking events
  • Applying for new jobs

Hobby habit tracker ideas

  • Filling in your bullet journal
  • Practising an instrument
  • Going for a hike
  • Sewing
  • Colouring in
  • Drawing
  • Taking your camera on a walk
  • Visiting a museum
  • Reading a book
Different types of bullet journal habit trackers

How to decide if a habit is worth tracking

A habit is only worth tracking if it’s something you can control. You’ll often find that there are tasks that you want to complete in order to reach your goals, but they depend on other people or an external force.

Let’s say you’ve set yourself the goal of getting a new job this year. So you want to track the habits that’ll help you do that. Tasks like completing a professional development course, working on your resume and sending off job applications are all great habits to track. But attending interviews isn’t. Because that requires input from other people.

So try to look at the things you can control. And place your focus on those instead.

Top tip: remember to make your habits measurable, so it’s always clear whether you’ve completed them or not.

How long should you track your habits for?

It takes an average of 66 days to form a habit. But the key word here is average. Studies have shown that some people can form a habit in as little as 18 days. Whilst others need 254 days for that habit to become automatic.

So rather than giving yourself a set number of days to track, try to use your intuition instead. At the end of each month, ask yourself “does this task feel automatic to me now?”. If it does, it’s possible that you’ve formed a new habit. If not, you might need to keep it in your habit tracker and continue that conscious focus for a little while longer.

Why you don’t need to complete your habits everyday

You’ll find that it makes sense to track some habits every single day. Whilst others are better monitored throughout the week.

For instance, if you’re trying to drink a certain amount of water each day, that’s something you’re going to track on a daily basis. But if you’re trying to run more to help you train for a half marathon, you might want to break that up into 4-5 runs a week.

When a habit isn’t a daily habit, look for triggers that can help remind you to complete it. Perhaps you only complete these tasks on weekdays, or on the weekend. When you automatically associate a specific task with a certain trigger, that’s when you know a habit has been formed.