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A Roundup of Habit and Routine Tracking Methods & Tools

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Traditional wisdom says you should set a goal and work towards achieving that goal. On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with this concept. But there are so many variables in the mix with goals that it makes them difficult to achieve and troublesome to keep front of mind in most work-life scenarios.

This is precisely why we have such an emphasis on habits and routines here at The Sweet Setup. It’s the consistent, repeated actions you take each day that can drive real results. And easily the most common habits and routines happen at the transitional times in our days. Specifically, these happen in the morning, in the evening, at the start of the workday, and the end of the work day.

As a tech nerd, I love that routines like these lend themselves well to being check-listed and tracked — so much so that people often write about this sort of thing and have varying methods for creating these lists. There’s even an entire website dedicated to collecting morning routines.

Ways to Track a Routine

In its most basic form, a routine or habit checklist can be a simple piece of paper with each item written out and crossed off when it’s done. I prefer to use the Dash-Plus system for crossing things off. That way I can still read the item but can tell if it’s done or not.

The trouble with a paper-based checklist system here is the lack of long-term reporting. Unless you do something fancy like monthly or annual charting, it gets difficult to see your streak of completion. This is why many people use some sort of digital tool for the tracking component behind these routines.

Still, good ol’ pen and paper can be the easiest way to get up and running with these checklists since it’s a system you already know how to use.

When we step into the digital versions, things start to diversify pretty quickly. For example, Ayk Martirosyan sets up his morning routine in Notion in a way that encourages self-growth. The goal here is to use a tool that he’s already using and incorporate a view of what he intends for his morning.

You could also do something similar in Trello. This is what Coley Lane Bouschet does. She sets up a single, repeating card in Trello for her morning routine (amongst other routines) that can be reviewed every day.

Ways to Track Habits

It’s important to make a distinction between routines and habits. In this case, routines would be the pattern of actions you take at predetermined intervals in the day. But habits would be standalone actions you’ve committed to completing within specific timeframes. Habits can be a part of a routine and a routine may exist to encourage a habit.

And although routines are super important, I think it’s the habits that are encompassed in them that have the most value. And I’m not the only one that thinks this way. Just look at the plethora of ways people invent to track these things.

Again, the simple version is on pen and paper. It just works and everyone knows how to use it. This may be why James Clear is such a fan.

You can set habits up and track them in something like Streaks. It’s good at showing you a chain of completions and reporting. Thus, it’s our pick for best habit-tracking app.

If you want to incorporate your habit-tracking into a tool you’re already using, then slipping these into your task management system might be the best. For example, Doist has a great write-up for doing just this with Todoist.

Trello users should head over to Ctrl-Y to see Yari Antonieta’s setup. There’s some value in knowing when to put everything in one place and that’s exactly what Yari does here.

And if everything-in-one-place is your jam, sticking with Notion and Obsidian is an option as well. Our own Chloe Roberts has you covered in the world of Notion. And Jeff Szuc has a pretty sweet view of his habits in Obsidian, code included.

At the end of the day, if all of these inspirational views have convinced you to start tracking routines and habits, you should take a look at our Habits Course. We’ll walk you through the process of setting them up the right way and making sure you have the best chance for success.

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