How to Build and Track Habits that Stick

I’ve always been controlled by my habits. I’ve always wanted it to be the other way around.

August 30, 2022
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I’ve always been controlled by my habits. I’ve always wanted it to be the other way around.

There was so much I wanted to do and so little time to do it.

The only problem: that’s not true. It was not true then. It’s not true now. With the right set of habits and the right practice you make the time for who you want to be and what you want to do.

Habit formation is largely a force of will, but the tendency for us to be pulled back hard into old routines means that the biggest problem for the maintenance of a habit is the maintenance of that habit in our conscious mind as we build the habit day-over-day.

Once a habit has been set the power of habits really unlocks and it will drive itself forward and drive us along with it towards our goals.

The danger is in allowing a habit to slip out of our mind. Enter habit tracking.

Habit tracking is a practice of regularly elevating our habit commitments into our attention and asking ourselves if we’re actually pulling them off (or if we’ve slipped up).

Often it’s an end of the day kick in the ass to go for that run or to read those 10 pages.

But without it, those last minute catches go uncaught and it becomes that much harder to get it done the next day.

If you can just get those first few weeks with consistency, you’re on the path to success. Habit tracking is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal to get that nascent habit off the ground.

The only real shot I ever took at changing my habit practice in the past was with bullet journaling. It was dreadful. It took longer just to pull off bullet journaling than it did to implement the habits I was looking to implement.

The Issue with Habit Tracking

Habit tracking is a habit in its own right. There are a few tools available to you to bootstrap your own habit tracking practice.

Bullet journals are a potential solution. The problem is in the high cost of set up and worse, that you need to remember daily to go and fill the damn thing out. That’s the problem we were trying to solve in the first place!

It wasn’t until I started working at Assembly that I realized I could flip the script.

A System That Just Works

It’s just a template and a trigger.

Rather than proactively remember to track and go chase my journal down, Assembly comes to me and asks me to just check some boxes each night.

Assembly workflows are configurable to be triggered entirely passively. Set up a workflow to run every night to see if you committed to your habits for the day. The notification asks you to start and then you just do. No need to hunt down your journal, format it, or write things out over and over. Just check your boxes.

More powerful than that, Assembly allows you to prompt yourself in any way you see fit, leading to an opportunity to bake a set of questions, concept, reflections, or practices into your daily routine. Want to try gratitude journaling? Just ask yourself what you’re grateful for. Want to track your habits daily? Just ask yourself which habits you committed to that day. Want to pulse check your mood? Your weight? Your productivity? Your happiness? Just add it to the flow.

For me, my habit tracker is tacked on to a daily reflection workflow at the end of the day that covers:

  • a daily career affirmation
  • a productivity pulse check
  • planning for the next day
  • habit tracking

This helps me daily to recommit to my present set of priorities, to catch myself when I almost miss a habit for the day, to generate a log of what work I’ve completed each day, and to get a longitudinal view into how my productivity levels change over time and what factors might affect them.

As a result, I’ve put half my habits on autopilot and created fertile ground for developing new habits and daily practices.

These are my personal insights from Assembly.

My language learning and exercise habits run like clockwork, but the practice of tracking my habits daily is that I’ve been able to launch new habits. Each day I read something, send a question to my partner to get to know her better, and train my handstand.

I especially love that last one, it’s a  15-30 second little commitment to just flip on upside down against a wall that I knew I could do because I have this tracking practice to back it up.

Now I’ve been experimenting with all different kinds of daily workflows to tack on.

The beauty of Assembly is in the flexibility to design whatever workflow your desire and in the way it pulls responses from you rather than you having to push responses proactively into it.

Try for yourself or hit me up and we can work to build your flow together.

Originally appeared here.

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