To Reach Your Goals, Track Your Habits

February 21, 2017 Updated: October 8, 2018

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

—Will Durant

Parents are talented jugglers—always operating with a number of balls in the air. Aiming for professional, financial, fitness, or other goals while managing a household and raising children can be challenging.

Recently, I came across a tool that has helped me immensely to keep my priorities straight and stay on track each day. It’s called a habit tracker, and it’s as low-tech as it gets—requiring only a pen and paper—but it has been very effective for me.

I first saw a habit tracker while exploring the trend of using a bullet journal—a complete diary and personal organization system. (For more on bullet journals, dive into #bujo on Twitter, Instagram, and other social media.) The habit tracker is a commonly used page in bullet journals, and the format is as follows: On a grid, the days of the month are listed on one axis and a list of actions to be taken each day is listed on the other axis. The actions completed each day are checked off on the grid. That’s it.

I’ve been surprised at just how motivating it is to try to check off as many boxes in my habit tracker as possible. It may seem rather silly, but I’m pulled toward the goal of filling up the grid, and I’ve completed more daily tasks than I otherwise would have as a result.

Rather than including this graph in a journal, I’ve hung mine on a wall in my office, where I notice it throughout the day.

Posting it on my wall has offered a number of benefits, including external accountability. My children and husband are amused by my habit tracker and check it frequently to see how I’m doing. This has provided me with another layer of motivation to maintain my good habits.

At the end of the month, I’m left with a powerful visual, which shows me which areas I’ve done well in and which I need to improve upon.

Overall, this very simple method has improved my productivity and kept me more focused on my priorities. I find myself wasting less time and making progress on the things that matter. 

If you’d like to try using a habit tracker for yourself, check out Kara Benz’s blog on the topic at

Follow Barbara on Twitter: @barbaradanza