Free Resource: Track your daily habits with Google Sheets
October 29, 2020
Are you tracking your habits? Daily habits control us as much as we control them, and whether we like to admit it, we probably don't have full insight into our habits at the best of times. A key part of ensuring you do a habit is... ensuring you do it. Simple! But how do you we do that? By measuring it.
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
The Seinfeld Calendar
You might have heard of the Seinfeld Calendar. It distills down to if you want to get good at something, do it every day. Seinfeld's advice is to use a calendar and mark successful days with a big X. Very quickly it becomes visually obvious whether or not you're achieving your goals. It acts as its own reward, knowing that when you complete your task, you have a positive mark on that day; a sign you overcame your inner procrastinator.
The old-school physical calendar still works, and for many is a straightforward choice. However, there are many advantages to using a digital alternative: available anywhere, ease of entry, automatic stat calculation, visual graphs. Given that so many of us are online (including you, reading this blog post), a digital solution is paramount.
Habit tracker apps, a.k.a. vendor lock-in
When I started using habit tracking apps, I turned to HabitBull for Android and was generally happy. The interface was clean and the focus was on today's goals: pass, fail, pass, fail. This worked for a while, until I bumped into the free version's limitations:
- Only 5 habits can be tracked
- No data export (formerly a free feature)
I had also been reading reviews about whether to spend the $12 and upgrade to the premium version to expand on these features and frankly, they didn't inspire much confidence:
Hidden pricing tier holding your data hostage. $12 to store more than what, 5 bits of data/day? Give me a break.
A free digital alternative to Habit Tracking apps
Google Sheets is great. As powerful as Microsoft Excel, but available everywhere: phone, tablet, laptop. It's up to the task of tracking our data. I've built a spreadsheet with some nice features that will help you stick to your goals. Make a copy of my Habits 2020 (link below) and start tracking!
Given the niceties in this spreadsheet, the user experience isn't all that different from stat tracker: Go in, enter your habits, close the app. That's it. I do it at the end of each day while the memory is fresh. Because the data is yours, you can do whatever you want with it, no limitations!
Pro-tip: Add this sheet to your Home Screen for quick access. In the Google Sheets app, long press on your habit tracking sheet and hit "Add to Home Screen".
Ease of Entry
Navigate to today quickly by finding the bolded date on the left-hand side. Use the Yes/No dropdowns in each cell to mark your habit status (no typing needed!). Visually see your progress with green or red-colored cells.
Track your stats
Overall counts, streaks and percentages are available in the stats section at the bottom
See your streaks
Stay on goal by trying to maximize your current success streak
Measure your cumulative habits
From a macro perspective, how are you doing? This will quickly tell you.
The template is available here. Make a copy and follow the instructions to get started. Happy habits!