7 Things I’m Currently Tracking and The Benefits of Doing It Daily 449

benefits of daily tracking of your time, habits and life

“What gets measured, gets managed.”
Peter Drucker

I remember that the more I was reading about successful people’s daily routines, habits and little tips on how to be more productive, the more I was noticing a tendency there.

They were all measuring their results one way or another. Be it online, offline, on a list, sharing it with an accountability partner, etc.

They weren’t talking much about this, but the fact that they took a moment to write down everything they did throughout the day (usually every evening or right after the activity), was enough for me to want to know more.

Nothing, of course, would have happened, if I hadn’t given this simple technique a try. And it turned out to be quite powerful.

It all started with my to-do list. Something I can’t live without these days.

Because if we look at it from another point of view, it’s a way of tracking the things that need to get done during the day, and then slowly crossing each off, until at the end of the day we examine how we’ve performed and what’s left.

But then I started making more detailed descriptions of different stuff I was doing daily. The written word is more powerful indeed. And knowing how much time something took you and the chance to compare it to the previous and the next few times you do it is priceless.

Nothing can give you such great feedback about your performance. And as a result, you can decide what changes you want to make in order to see an improvement. And then track that too.

The Benefits of Tracking Your Time, Life and Habits

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When it comes to this, the first person I think of is Sebastian Marshal (whose blog is one of my favorites).

Here’s why he tracks his time every single day:

“I add things as it serves me. If something isn’t serving me any more, I delete it from my list.

But now, it’s super handy. Why do it every day? Well, honestly, I still forget a ton of things that are on my list if I don’t refer to the list.
Is it exhausting? Just the opposite actually, I get far more energy and time and life back from the tracking than I put into it.
If things get off-track, I can see where I’m doing good work, where I’m doing bad work, etc. If I wind up putting a lot of time into surfing the net, I notice fast. You can’t have 2-3 days in a row of spending 5-10 hours doing garbage and not notice it if you’re tracking your time. Again, filling this out took me six minutes MAX. That’s totally worth it to know where my time went, and to remember to do all the little things I want to do.

I love what I get back fro time tracking. Like, really love it. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done and it’s brought a hell of a lot of understanding and clarity and focus to my life. But again – it should serve you, it should get you to where you want to be. I don’t serve the tools, the tools serve me. It’s a powerful tool if you use it to get what you want…”

He continues in this post:

“One of the things I’ve gotten tremendous amounts of mileage out of it is tracking my time, habits, and life each day.

To put it simply – I now realize it’s impossible to understand how your life is going without some careful observation. There’s a lot of time each day, and knowing where that time goes, what you ate, what you did and didn’t do… it’s almost impossible to get a good picture of your life without some kind of measuring.

I definitely started small, and built up to where I am now. Don’t go crazy trying to track 20 things at once – it’s unlikely to work. Start small, then add a few once tracking the first group is second nature to you.”

7 Things I’m Measuring Daily

1. Tracking The Work I Get Done.

Working from home may be amazing, but there are also many distractions. And although I’ve created the perfect schedule for myself, I still benefit a lot from writing down everything that gets done.

This may vary, of course. But in the end I like seeing how many words I’ve written (for my blog/niche sites/guest blogs/books/freelancing), whether I’ve checked out writing job boards and gigs and applied for at least 1 or 2, the stuff I did in terms of affiliate marketing, making small changes to the sites, joining advertising networks, doing sponsored posts, exploring new options of monetizing a site, formatting, editing and publishing posts and eBooks, pitching bigger sites for long-term relationships, etc.
In this list I just write down the things I’ve done connected to work right after I’ve completed them.

I don’t include things like checking email (unless it’s a carefully thought-out email about something important that took me some time) or social media (the 2-minute Twitter breaks definitely don’t count as work).

So basically tracking my work includes only things that can bring me income, or help my current and future online businesses in some way.

How I do it?

I do nothing more than adding a new date in a Word document called “work” and listing the things I do under it.
I use no special software, apps or online tools, although I think they can help a lot.

2. I track what I eat.

How Much Does It Cost to Eat Healthy [Infographic]

That’s one of the new habits I’m doing.

Here’s what I say in the post:

“We hear about the benefits of journaling everything you do daily (in every area), but we don’t really realize the effect it has until we try it ourselves.
And it’s quite helpful, I’d say.

I’m always trying to change my eating habits and get fit, so this is quite useful for such goals.

Not only does it give you the bigger picture of what you eat, but you also become more aware of what you put in your mouth knowing that you’ll have to put it on paper later.

Guilt is a positive factor in this case. Because even if you’re not trying to control what you eat, you start feeling bad about it once you see it written.

So if you’ve tried other similar things but they haven’t worked, give this one a try.”

3. Tracking my water intake for the day.

Something I’ve been working on for some time now is drinking 2 liters a day.

For some it may be nothing, but I know many people that find a hard time drinking even 2-3 glasses per day.

I did my research long ago on the effect water has on our body. It turned out that our whole generation is suffering from chronic dehydration.

People just don’t think about water, although we know its benefits since childhood.
I also have my reasons to believe that the daily problems we complain about may be a result of that – headaches, stomach problems (especially with digestion), back pain, arthritis, etc.

Most often it’s the pain that occurs frequently. And taking medicines only alleviates the symptoms for some time, but is far from healing. A change in the lifestyle needs to be made. And drinking plenty of water (2,5 liters) is the solution.

Our body consists of 75% water and our brain – of 85, and if we don’t give it enough daily, it stores the old liquid and keeps it for later.
Also the older we get, the less amount of water we have in our cells. And the more we should drink.

I can go on about this topic for a long time. But let’s get back to tracking now.

The point is that since I started writing down my daily intake of water, it wasn’t a problem to consume it.

Usually it’s quite an effort as I’m not used to it. But including it in my to-do list and actually implementing it in my schedule worked wonders. (I work on the computer 4 hours straight right after I wake up and found out that drinking water all the time during that period works great for me).

4. I keep track of my progress with new habits I’m trying to develop.

Ingraining a new behavior can be tricky. And if you don’t manage to stay consistent in the beginning, you’ll fail.

So I came to the conclusion that writing down the action you’ve taken daily (or even including it as a task on the top of your to-do list) helps a lot.

Often we can just forget about the habit and thus skip a day, which never ends good.

5. I track what I’m reading that helps me learn and grow.

Read These 4 Books Today to Remain Motivated

I read all the time. All writers should. It’s inevitable.

But I don’t feel like it’s something I must do all the time.
And in order not to go without reading (which for me goes together with learning and growing), I’ve set the daily goal of consuming at least 1 or 2 long articles on a subject I’m benefiting from by writing stuff down and thinking of how I can put that into practice immediately.

Usually it’s stuff related to my work – articles on SEO, conversion optimization, using a new tool, promotion, using social media smarter, strategies on how to repurpose old content, getting traffic, trying completely new things with design, self-publishing or else, etc.

Or it may also be connected to self-improvement. And if it’s the motivational posts I usually read, that gets done in my free time. Here I’m talking about informative, insightful and practical step-by-step guides on how to be more productive, change habits, think outside the box, stuff about health, online business, finance, writing, etc.

These are actually the 2 types of reading I’ve been doing for the last few years, and which I’ll continue dedicating time to for the rest of my life (hopefully).

Not interested in novels anymore. Although Dan Brown’s work will always be a weak spot for me.

6. The time I wake up gets measured too.

It’s important for me to wake up really early as my whole day is way more productive and successful after that.

And in order to take this little habit more seriously, I keep track of it.

It doesn’t always happen at the time I want to, but every new morning is another opportunity to raise early.

7. Tracking when and for how long I work.

Not only is it important what I get done while working, but also when I start and finish and what amount of time I spend doing it.

It’s tracking, actually, that helped me find my most productive time – the first part of the day – which I now dedicate to my most serious work.

I’ve found out that I do my best when I get to work 15 minutes after I wake up, with a glass of water and a cup of coffee, and stay there for 4 hours without letting anything distract me.
Which means no communication, no email or social media, no noises and not thinking about what I’ll be doing later in the day or else that’s not connected to my work.

I’m laser focused and produce my best work.

8. Some things I track weekly.

  • Gym workouts – they need to be 4 per week (maybe more, but not less), if I’m not traveling or else. I write down which body part I’ve trained and how long the cardio was.
  • Overall performance – I haven’t quite made that a habit yet, but it’s an absolute must if you’re serious about personal development. Just like results should be evaluated daily in the end of the day, so should weeks, months and years. At least that’s what successful people are doing, and their achievements speak for themselves.
  • Foreign language – it’s Dutch at the moment. I haven’t set a daily goal because I don’t want to push myself. But I learn a thing or two almost daily and spare a few minutes weekly to see how far I’ve come and to plan out something new for the next week.
    It doesn’t need to be learning a new language, of course. But if there’s a new sport you want start doing, a hobby, something to learn or get better at, then you can track it weekly so that you don’t feel overwhelmed and still see progress.

How to Get Started with Tracking

A Short Guide to Using The Pomodoro Technique - let's reach success

1. Start small.

Like you should with every other new behavior you’re trying to ingrain.

2. Be consistent.

Doing it daily is a must. If you really have to skip a day, make sure you get back on track on the next one.

3. Find what works best for you (like I did).

It’s alright to see how others are doing this and do the same. But at some point you’ll realize that you’re just different and your daily schedule has other things in it that need to be considered.

So make changes until you find the version that’s ideal for your lifestyle.

4. Focus on 1-2 things.

Like Sebastian said, don’t start tracking 20 things. It just won’t work.

Here are some other practical tips he gives that helped him track his time, habits and life successfully and see progress:

“First, I highly recommend it. You’ll see improve your awareness of yourself, how you spend your time, your habits, and reach your goals faster if you do this.

Second, remember to start simple.

Third, get inspired by mine, but definitely start smaller. Start with some easy wins and one straightforward yes/no question. My version zero was just writing down an idea or two. Add things slowly once you get the first version under control.

Fourth, I recommend you aim for roughly a 70% success rate, not perfection.

Fifth, remember to customize to fit your goals.

Finally, I like to do at least a tiny review at the end of the day. “What did I do correctly today to move me towards my goals? If I did the day over, what would I do differently?” Those are great questions, I got them from Brian Tracy. A little review like that, some paying attention to your habits, and some paying attention to whether you’re working on your most important things in your life are all good places to potentially start.”

What Else Can You Track?

I mentioned the things I’m keeping track of. But there are many others (some of which I’ll start in the future) that can help you improve your life, be more productive and change yourself in general.

Here are some of them:

• calories;
• the time you go to bed;
• total sleep;
• weight;
flossing;
• vitamins intake;
• money spent vs. money earned;
• meditation;
• stretching;
• checking email;
• journaling;
your morning routine;
• gratitude;
• relaxing;
• watching TV (and other unproductive habits);
• visualization;
• planning your day/week/month;
• coffee intake;
• browsing the Internet purposelessly;
• negative thoughts;
• making your bed;
• cleaning and decluttering;
• time needed to get out of bed in the morning;
• review of short/long term goals;
• protein/carbs/fats intake;
• reciting affirmations.

I’m sure you’ll come up with other ideas in the process, but for now that’s more than enough to get you started with tracking, let you choose a great thing to track from tomorrow on, and to give you an inspiration boost as you now know the benefits.

What do you think? Is daily tracking worth it and will you give it a try? If yes, what will you start measuring first and why?

See also:

Why you should track your time?
Planning your day like Sebastian Marshall
Ben Franklin’s hack tweaked – tracking my goals
10 time-tracking apps that will make you more productive

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How to Stay Focused When Studying: 5 Tips to Keep You From Getting Distracted 4

How to Stay Focused When Studying: 5 Tips to Keep You From Getting Distracted

All people have been interested in studying at one moment in their lives. There are different goals set for diverse learners and each of them requires serious learning at one point in time.

Successful learners are those with full concentration during their studies as this helps them in remembering what was learned and apply it in the undertaken tests. However, irrespective of the reasons as to why people study, most of the times one would have his mind invaded by different thoughts distracting his concentration.

It is also possible to have one diverted by noises and stories made by one’s roommates, children, and neighbors among others.

With these intrusions, an individual would lose focus and this is what is required to be successful in what one was reading. It is therefore important to identify possible issues that can lead to distraction in order to come up with the most appropriate ways of remaining focused. Here are some tips:

1. Pick the right time and place when reading.

This helps in getting rid of the clear distractions.

For instance, a person would not easily focus if he chooses to study in the presence of friends who are engaged in other activities. Similarly, one would not read well if with music, television, phone, or computer on.

Once the phone vibrates or rings, an individual would be tempted to answer and this would divert his attention.

In understanding how to stay focused, it is recommended that a reader has conducive environment bearing in mind that different learners would stay alert at different circumstances.

This is an indication that no single environment fits all types of students. The right time would also involve studying at the moment when a learner feels comfortable with the schedule such as in the evening or very early in the morning.

The place chosen should not be the classroom or bedroom. But rather a quiet and nice place with a relaxed sitting position such as the library or the office.

2. Take frequent breaks.

How to Increase Your Productivity No Matter Where You Are

In addition, tips for students indicate that instead of succumbing to distraction, a pupil has to take short breaks.

When engaged in 45-minutes of learning, the student should take breaks of between ten and twenty minutes. Taking longer of breaks of over 20 minutes are dangerous for they might lead to forgetting what one was initially studying.

By planning breaks with an alarm, you not miss them or accidentally take longer ones.

Breaks are considered very crucial because they help the brain to recharge after processing the earlier acquired information. Breaks involving walking around should also be taken as an opportunity to improve recalling memory and test scores.

Breaking in between reading is, therefore, a good way of ensuring that a reader does not overburden his brain/mind with information that would not be processed. Taking pauses in between the reading session refreshes the brain and makes it possible to read for long and wide volumes.

3. Staying focused while reading is also linked with staying motivated.

As stated on EssayZoo, there are different forms of distractions for varied learners and this can be addressed by understanding the reason behind one’s studying.

This is done by taking a test or exam as something meant to challenge the reader’s learning. Since a person’s learning would eventually be rated, the process should start by setting a goal.

Even though the set goal should not be unrealistic, it should be challenging so that the learner can perform better than he has been found in the past tests or maybe better than people expect.

Once an individual is able to surprise others based on their expectations, he would feel motivated to continue studying.

Additionally, learning should be motivated with a reward, which acts as a form of self-control by ensuring that a student is compensated for hard work, studying well, being prepared, and performing well in an exam.

Encouragement should also be done by understanding what learning is important, which is different for diverse readers but all meant to enhance attentiveness to achieve personal goals.

4. Getting enough sleep during studying is a vital way of improving concentration.

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Even though many of the times pupils learn under pressure especially when exams are near, this does not mean an individual should read without sleep.

Just like taking breaks during a day of reading, sufficient sleep refreshes the brain and makes it ready to be fed with and process acquired information.

Learning is successful if one can remember and apply the learned information during a test. This is possible if a person is able to actively concentrate during the planned hours of studying.

According to tips for students, studying for long hours without break or sleep is on strenuous and does not bear the expected results.

Dedicating at least 6-8 hours of sleep ensures that a person wakes up fresh, alert, ready, and relaxed for the day’s scheduled learning activities.

Once ready to learn, a student would be organized and in an ordered place with only the reading materials a person requires, aware of the number of hours to spend on a topic, and the number of breaks he will take including their times.

5. Stay calm to concentrate.

Lastly, remaining focused when learning can be done by practicing concentration.

Once a student has everything he needs on the table, he should not postpone the learning exercise. It is advisable that a pupil is aware of the most crucial information to study first before proceeding to the rest. This is to ensure that one is guided by key concepts that would make the learning enjoyable and encouraging.

Also, practice concentration by not panicking, minimize computer and phone use, don’t listen to music unless it aids in studying, and remaining on topic.

It is notable that by panicking, one would make mistakes.

So make sure you remain calm, take deep breaths, and convince yourself that you read, understand, and pass the exams.

Further, a student should turn the computer, Internet, and the cell phone off to ensure maximum concentration. This is to avoid responding to text messages or searching via the Internet things that are not related to the topic of study.

It is arguable that listening to music when learning acts as a distraction because the learner is provided with additional information to process thus interfering with the real intention of the learning process.

In order to stay on-topic, you shouldn’t explore different subjects at the same time more so when studying boring, complex, and unexciting topics.

Studying would thus be effective if a person remains focused in order to achieve the set goals. Nobody enrolls for a course or learning institution without a goal. This would be achieved if concentration is always at its maximum.

While there are major ways of enhancing attentiveness, the discussed ones in this essay are picking the right time and place, instead of succumbing to distraction, taking short breaks, staying motivated, getting enough sleep, and practicing concentration.

The aim is to ensure that a learner understands the importance of learning and is committed to achieving his intentions.