Look, I’m a nerd for organizational systems and project management.
I love having a place for ideas and a system for executing them. I love Notion, Google Drive, to-do apps, the whole shebang. On a daily basis, I even use these daily time-blocking templates by illustrator Deborah Ho.
But one thing I can never get into, is habit tracking.
Most Notion nerds have a habit tracker set up somewhere in their pages. It’s full of little check boxes with healthy activities like drink 64 oz of water, exercise, meditate, make the bed in the morning, etc. Passion Planner has one too. And don’t even get me started on the intricate (ok, impressive!) bullet journaling habit trackers.
Image by Blake Reichmann via Medium
These are all healthy, well-meaning activities, which I support. My personal habits list includes trying to take at least one 30 minute walk per day, exercising regularly, reading, and drinking lots of water throughout the day.
But for me, and maybe for you too, the goal of having healthy habits is to integrate them into my routine so seamlessly and effortlessly, that I don’t ever have to think about them.
Exercising three times per week? I schedule it in my calendar. It always happens because I’ve made it a habit over the years and it’s stuck. The reward is that exercise makes me feel good.
Eating lots of fruits and veggies? I make the same smoothie for breakfast every morning. I prep it the night before and store it in the fridge. In the morning, a quick blend and I’m all set with a healthy breakfast.
Reading more books? I take a bath several nights a week and aim to read one chapter of a book while soaking.
All of these habits are grounded in routine. They have a clear trigger (taking a bath -> read a chapter, wake up -> blend smoothie), or they’re scheduled into my week (exercise).
I’m not against habit tracking if you know that you’re motivated by little check marks and gamification. My best friend uses an app called Habitica to keep track of her habits through gamification. She likes “leveling up” and getting in-app rewards for checking off items. That’s awesome for her, but it doesn’t work for me. Why not, you ask?
Because I know that I’m motivated differently. Lots of little check marks make me feel tired. Like I’ve reduced my big, beautiful life to tiny spreadsheets.
I’m motivated by making my life feel rhythmic and spacious. That’s it. That’s my whole thing.
Similarly, I want the work I do to feel light and fun. Tracking my habits feels like the opposite, so I opt out.
Is a habit tracker the right tool for you? Does it make you feel lighter and more energized? Or heavy and dreadful? Try it out and see! Maybe you’ll learn something new about what motivates you and what doesn’t.
Writing 750 words every damn day! I’m on a 6-day streak. My friend (and fellow newsletter subscriber) Ana is writing with me and keeping me accountable. Want to join us? Reply to this email and we’ll add you to the group chat!
Advent of Code. A daily coding challenge for the first 25 days in December. I’m using the opportunity to learn golang, a programming language developed by Google. It’s hard for me, as I’m not that savvy with algorithms. But it’s fun to try to solve the puzzles and keeps my mind occupied on something tangible.
Video of a tarantula molting. I don’t know why YouTube recommends these videos to me, but hey, here we are. Both disturbing and fascinating.
DIY macaroni angel ornaments. I made these on a Zoom call with my cousin and we had so much fun!
Screenshots aka the weird stuff I find on the internet and throughout my life as a digital person.
Some of my favorite tweets this week! (Reasons to love the internet 💘)
My sister moved into a new house and found this in the wall of her basement pic.twitter.com/37cHIxQmvN— The Only Living Dead Girl in New York (@missjellinsky) December 2, 2020
I had a dream where there was a food called “King’s Hand”, a hollow hand made of m&m cookie, filled with Greek salad.— neo-cannolialist (@thatfrood) December 6, 2020
I could not stop thinking about it.
Here is the culmination of a week long effort. pic.twitter.com/tMVutcj9H8