Trying to track too many habits can be overwhelming and create a sense of failure. But, the exact number of habits to track will change depending on your life goals and what routines you have in place. We all react to change differently and while some people say they can track multiple habits, other people require to focus on one or two habits only. However, knowing how many habits you should track can help maximize the chances of success and enable you to focus your efforts on the core changes that you want to make.
Identify the Most impactful Habits.
To identify the most impactful behaviours to track, consider which habits are likely to make the biggest improvements in your life. For example, if you struggle with healthy eating and are looking at losing weight, tracking your daily diet and meals is more important than monitoring how often you exercise.
Using losing weight as a health goal the first thing would be to identify what habits need to change. Do you need to eat healthier or reduce your portion size, or maybe track the unmindful snacking? I know that I snack more when relaxing in front of the TV or if I am stressed. If you know what habits you need to change, choosing new habits to form because easier.
The habits you set for yourself will depend on what you want to accomplish. Healthy habits to track could be;
- tracking how often you exercise
- the amount of water you drink daily
- writing down what you eat each day
- tracking your sugar intake
- how much alcohol you drink or chocolate you eat. Maybe, I should write cheese and coffee here too.
Instead of trying to track too many habits at once, which can be overwhelming and ultimately ineffective. Limit yourself to just a few key areas. By creating measurable smart goals for these key behaviours and committing to them consistently, you will give yourself a much better chance of success.
Review the data you track.
The data you are tracking helps you improve and change your habits. The data will reveal if you need to make changes so that you do not fail at your goals. Set aside time each week to review data from your habits tracker. Reviewing data can help you make changes to your habits or routine so that you can actively work on reaching your goals. To achieve your health goal start by focusing on the one or two key habits that will make a major difference to you. You can build upon the habits once the new habits become routine
Systematically Break Down Overall Goals into Bite-Size Pieces.
Naturally, it can be tricky to keep track of an extensive list of habits and behaviours. Write down your goal and then, systematically break down your overall goal into small, bite-size pieces which you can then focus on tracking one step at a time.
For example, if you have a goal of developing healthy eating patterns, you could focus on tracking your daily intake of fruits and vegetables for the first week, then adding in lean protein for another week as well as reducing processed food and refined sugars. This approach not only makes it easier to track progress but also makes it simpler to set new routines and practices. Tracking one or two habits also stops any overwhelm from adopting too many changes and enhances the chance of you succeeding.
Focus on Consistency Instead of Quantity.
It is tempting to try to tackle as many habits as possible at once. However, research shows that focusing on a small number of habits and trying to cultivate consistency with them is more likely to lead to positive long-term results than a long list of habits.
It takes your brain more time and energy to create a new habit than it does to maintain the ones you have already established. In addition, the more items that you’re attempting to solve at once, the more likely it is that something will be overlooked. So instead of adding more and more items onto your list, focus on the ones you find most important and focus on bonding with them, one step at a time.
Research on self-monitoring shows that when someone initially begins tracking habits, they should only focus on a few key behaviours. As they become better at recognizing patterns associated with those habits, they can begin expanding their list of activities or tasks to include further tracking and monitoring.
With the same habits, you’ll end up with the same results. But with better habits, anything is possible.James Clear
Concentrate on One Habit at a Time.
Consistently practising a habit is just as important as forming it. Trying to concentrate on too many habits at once will make it difficult for any of them to become truly ingrained in your life, leading you to lose motivation and eventually give up. Instead, focus on one habit at a time and really bond with it until you’ve reached the point of consistency. Then you can move on to the next habit that takes you towards your life goal.
Tracking for health and wellbeing
If new to setting health goals, start by tracking one or two of the 12 simple daily health habits. For weight loss below are some habits that I would track. However, I would not track every habit from day one. As mentioned above, the focus is to form a new habit and then introduce a new habit.
- Track food portion sizes.
- The number of steps you walk daily. One common habit that has been proven effective for improving health is taking a minimum of 10,000 steps per day. Using a pedometer to measure progress can help ensure that this goal is met.
- Exercise, what exercise and how often.
Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.James Clear
With healthy eating, it is also good to get into the habit of planning your meals.
Small changes lead to big gains. You will find that you will reduce the overwhelm if you track one or two habits and then work your way up to tracking other lifestyle factors. Additionally, it is easier to monitor your progress with small changes.
How many habits should you track?
How many habits should you track? While it ultimately depends on your individual goals, it’s best to start by tracking just one or two habits at a time. Once those habits have become automatic introduce new habits.
Generally, it is recommended to track no more than six habits to start, as this can become mentally taxing. Focus on the six most important actions for you to achieve your goal. Track your habits as it enables you to measure your progress and establish positive routines. Once your routine is established, commence implementing new behaviours to track at a steady rate as this is an effective way to take action and achieve your goals.