Get life structured: Track what’s important to you!

It’s March and it feels like New Year for me. Just one week ago, I dived into a beautiful way of tracking habits, inspired by Sean McCabe. It helps me to get a better overview of the aspects of life that are important to me right now. And it helps to improve them.

Although I write a journal in DayOne, sketch note daily impressions in my notebook, track my sports in the Activity App, there hasn’t been the one place for a good overview.

This changed with this simple layout:

The last week of February served as a test run. I was able to fill the workouts from my DayOne diary and the Activity App. Drawing got much nicer in March (see at the end of the post)!

After my first week in, I’m enormously excited about it and can only encourage you to try it for yourself. You can try it this or any other way. Just start the journey!

My way of tracking habits

  1. Chose the five habits that are most important for your change or consistency.
  2. Select a place to track them. This can be digitally in a spreadsheet, Evernote or a hand-drawn habit tracker. I fell for the nice layout by Sean McCabe and keep it in my paper notebook.
  3. Select a matching color for each of the five habits (optional. You can roll a dice if you don’t care about specific colors.)
  4. Keep your habits in mind and live by them. Track them daily and adapt where necessary. It’s empowering!

My routine includes drawing the tracker every 1st day of the month. This takes time but is a very conscious process to start a new month. Reflection is key to end my day. To see how I did, I complete my tracker before going to bed. This motivates me for the next day to either keep on or improve!

The habits I chose

Brainstorming my top five habits

I started a mind map. I chose the areas that…

  • are important to me
  • I want to emphasize or improve

It turned out to be family, sports, nutrition, soul, people/friends.
Interestingly, I didn’t find “job” on this list. I figured that I’m well set on my goals and improvements there already.

For each of the areas, I brainstormed the habits I want to track. As the last step, I chose the five to track for the next months:

Habit 1: Did a workout

Working out is a cornerstone of my well-being since 3-4 years. Since I discovered bodyweight training, I workout 3-6 times a week (I’ll write about my routine in a separate post soon). Definitely a habit I want to visualize and track on a top level.

Habit 2: Went to bed early

I usually wake up at 5:45 AM which requires an alarm. But mornings don’t feel relaxed. Why? Because I go to bed too late. The whole evening routing after work is: Get kids to bed (if I made it home early enough), work out, spend time with my wife (too rarely), eat, relax,… Time slips easily to 11:00 PM or later.

My ultimate goal is to have more morning time for either writing or workout. For now, I start with going to bed early. Everything else will follow.

Habit 3: Had a mini date with my wife Doro

Since it’s always hard to find time together, I decided to make time and track it! We once had the idea of a dedicated evening per week, but it got overruled by other appointments too easily. I rather like daily time with her to catch up on her things (“how was your day, honey?”) and share mine.

Habit 4: Food was fully vegetarian

Here comes be huge news: I went vegetarian a week ago. Tracking habits is not the reason for it, but it just felt right to put it on my habits list. Will do a separate post about this soon.

Habit 5: Did some sketch noting or writing

Writing and sketch noting is a creative process which helps me to reflect, sort, memorize. It keeps my mind clear and open for more. Since this took a back seat last year, I want to revive both. Now here’s where the loop closes: Habit #2 helps me to make time for habit #5!

Why am I sharing this so openly?

  1. First, I’m so impressed by the positive impact of tracking these five habits. I’d like to share this and encourage you to give it a try!
  2. Second, sharing it puts me into some kind of responsibility to keep on. I can’t just silently stop it 🙂 So keep asking me how I’m doing with it!

Starting might feel a burden, but actually, it is easy. Staying consistent is the critical thing. And this is now more simple and fun with the 5-habit-tracker layout!

You can read more on Sean’s background and even download a printable PDF template at

March 2018 progress. Drawing iteration 2 is much nicer than the test run!

Let me know how you start and how you’re doing on the way!

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