As I mentioned a few days ago, I have five habits I’m trying to maintain as part of my regular routine during the month of May. These habits are:
- Practicing mindfulness
- Exercising 5 days per week
- Blogging every day
- Logging at least 5,000 steps
- Reading for 10 minutes
One of the tools I’ve found to be very helpful in tracking my progress as well as serving as a regular reminder of my intentions is a habit journal.
I kept a habit journal for the first time in early 2019 after having read Atomic Habits for the first time. I had purchased The Clear Habit Journal* along with the book.
I still have that journal and I’ve used about half of it, but I’ve since switched to just using a simple small notebook (a Baron Fig Confidant* to be precise) with the dot grid paper.
How Do I Use a Habit Journal
The basic idea is to write down the things you want to do. In my case, there are five things: mindfulness, exercise, blog, 5k steps, and read. Then, add columns for each day of the month.
As you complete a given activity on a given day, tick that box.
Tips to Make a Habit Journal More Effective
Not all habit journal practices are created equal. While I’d be lying if I pretended to be some sort of habit journal expert, I have found at least two things to be true about effective use of a habit journal.
First, use your habit journal to track positive habits rather than to try and break negative habits.
What I mean by that is that habit journals are good at reinforcing positive habits, like “exercise 5 days a week”, but are not very good for breaking bad habits, like “don’t eat sweets.”
I don’t know why this is, I’ve just found it to be true. Pretty sure James explains why this is true in his book*, but I don’t remember why.
Breaking bad habits and building good habits require different practices. While I’m pretty ok at creating good habits, I’m fairly terrible at breaking bad habits, so don’t come looking to me for advice on that front.
Second, keep that habit journal handy!
Your habit journal will be a lot more effective if you see it repeatedly. I keep mine on my desk, right next to my keyboard and mouse. It’s a constant reminder of the habits I want to practice each day.
I’ve found a habit journal to be a strong source of positive reinforcement in establishing and maintaining good habits. If you’ve never used one, I recommend you give it a try!
*Not an affiliate link.