Why you need a Habit Tracker (free template included)

Here’s the bottom line: We fix problems that hurt. Spreadsheets are a dead simple way to see what problems you’re fixing and which ones are just getting worse.

How it works

  • I have columns for reading, exercise, journal, meditation, and gratitude practice. 
  • Each row is a day, X denotes I completed that habit that day
  • Tracking my Biggest Worry helps me recognize if there’s a large recurring stressor in my life.
  • Fear Vitamins are important todo’s I’ve been putting off, more on that later.


DateExerciseReadingMeditationBiggest WorryFear Vitamin
1 Aug 2021XXXI’ve been drinking too muchSchedule a therapy session (X)
2 Aug 2021XXFeeling overweightGo to a workout class (_)
3 Aug 2021XFeeling overweightGo to a workout class (_)
4 Aug 2021XXXFeeling overweightGet calorie counting accountability buddy (X)

What this means

  • 1 Aug 2021: Biggest worry was that I’ve been using drinking as a coping mechanism, and fear vitamin was to schedule some therapy to get better tools (often we can’t fix problems immediately, but fear vitamins can be great for chipping away at them. Make appointments, commit to plans with others, buy tickets. That’s still moving the ball forward.
  • 2/3 Aug 2021: Feeling overweight was the next worry, and it co-occurred with workouts getting skipped. Fear vitamin of a workout class was added but the (_)’s represent that I failed to complete the fear vitamin. This is the helpful part where I could quickly see patterns and make corrections (like choosing a fear vitamin that might be smaller but at least I can do it and start building momentum)
  • 4 Aug 2021: The worry about weight still existed, but changed fear vitamin to something smaller and completed it. The other habits that day built on the fear vitamin success which is very common. Think of cleaning some dishes you’ve been procrastinating about, then cleaning the rest of the kitchen because you are already working and you’re feeling productive now.

Why you need this

  • The spreadsheet view makes it easy to see persistent problems. Transparent problems are harder to hide from than unconscious problems.
  • Fear vitamins help you chip away at these problems. You don’t have to do it all at once. But take one step every day, and keep it aligned with your Biggest Worry. Consistency is power.
  • It’s a Feel-Good checklist. I can’t tell you how many days it’s been 7 PM and I feel gross and open my spreadsheet and see I only did one out of five that day. Then I push through the other four just to have a full row and suddenly I feel good because I kept a promise to myself. 
  • You can customize it to have whatever habits you need (mine also includes a gratitude practice, writing, yoga, and journaling). The important part is to do it daily and pay attention when it tells you you’re drifting off course.

“But there’s Habit Tracker xyz out there already!”

Do you use it every single day, and does it create meaningful progress for you? Good, move on, this post isn’t for you. If not, then try something with less barrier to entry. A GPS might be better than a compass, but if you are using nothing right now, you need a damn compass.  Spreadsheets are simple, you can get it set up in 2 minutes, and it works.

Wishing you all the best!

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