How to Track and Improve Habits | Bullet Journal Layout Ideas


What gets measured gets improved.


Quint Studer is an expert in the field of leadership development. He spent a career helping hospitals put into place effective leadership principles. And he more recently has written books on building a vibrant community and a book called The Busy Leader’s Handbook. I'll show that in a little bit, but what I want to talk about today is how I'm using a bullet journal to track the things that are important to me and improve those things.


I am new to bullet journaling, and so I am watching videos, I'm staying up to date with what folks are doing, and getting inspired. I'm not as artsy as some of the folks out there, but I do want this to be functional. And for me, this is a tool to move closer towards my goals. So one of the key elements I want to make sure I have in a prominent place that I come back to regularly is a tool to track the important things to me.


To me, these are things like daily habits I want to instill or improve, my long-term goals whether personally or in business, and how I'm doing on my personal purpose statement. To move effectively from one place to another, we've got to get data. Get the data out of our heads out of a subjective realm and into something objective, something we can see, something we can feel, something that we can track. So, this is how I hope to use this bullet journal and I'll go briefly through just a few ways that I've decided for 2021 that I'm going to set this up. I'm using some examples from 2020 that I've just been playing with.


Before I get into my specific layout, let me show you a little bit from The Busy Leader’s Handbook. The Busy Leader’s Handbook is a great desk guide for any leader or aspiring leader. The way this is written, I love it. Again, Quint Studer, leadership expert. As you can see, as I find the contents here, each chapter -- First, you've got to read how to approach this book and, wait, didn't I read this in another chapter. Because that's the beauty of how this book is put together.


It is broken up into three sections. I'll Lead: The Leader in You, Key Skills and Behavior for the Individual, Section 2: Optimizing Employee Performance, in Section 3: Strategic and Foundational Topics. Now, the beauty of the book is that you can go to any one of these chapters and read them as a standalone without having read any of the rest of the book. This is designed for busy leaders as it says in the title. So, if you don't have time if you don't have energy if you haven't blocked off a routine to really dive into the whole book, dive into exactly what you're looking for.


So, as I was thinking of this video, I did just that. I knew there was something in here on this topic right here in Chapter 33, The Power of Metrics. That's what I want to share with you today.


Chapter 33, The Power of Metrics, I want to show you just a few things I've underlined here. One is to “measure the important things.” Don't measure just to measure, but measure what is most important to help you, the team you lead, or the company or community to be the best that it can be.


A few bullet points, then I'll jump back into how I'm applying this to the way I'm setting up my 2021 bullet journal.


First, take time to decide what is most important. So, this for companies, can set you apart. There's a quote in here that you can tell the company values by what they measure. At my company’s top of the list is employee engagement. Employee engagement is far and above anything else because if employees are happy, then they're going to treat customers well, and customers are going to be happy. So, the second place is customer engagement but takes some time.


Whatever context you're thinking about, whether that's your personal life, your business life, your relationship, your habits, your personal purpose, you've got to have that work upfront to decide what is most important, what do you care about the most. So, take the time to dig deep, define that personal purpose, define those key elements, and then you can figure out what to track from there.


Don't try to measure too much at once. As you'll see in my layout, I focus on a very few items in these different areas because once you get into this mode of tracking it can become overwhelming pretty quickly. So, get a few key things, get the process started, just start, but don't do too much at once because the data can overwhelm you before you have a system in place.


Don't fight the data. Once you start to track the data, don't try to explain it away, don't try to sidestep it. Embrace it because that is your power to make a change. Once you see, “Okay I've had on my habit list I want to work out five times a week and I've only made it two times a week for the last month,” that is objective. That is not a feeling. That is not just a thought. That is a fact. And with that fact you can make adjustments to how you structure your day, you can make adjustments to how you approach life that will enable you to move closer to establishing that habit.


Keep your results on a dashboard. This goes without saying, you in this community will resonate with this immediately, very visual people. This is a little bit tougher in the business world, but getting this stuff in an easy-to-use and easy access format is key. I want to be able to look at a sheet and within five to ten seconds get oriented as to what the data is telling me.


Measure often enough to see if progress is being made. This is a little bit more tricky, but once you start measuring you'll kind of get the hang of this. Some things, like me, you'll see I want to measure daily, some things you may want to measure monthly, some things you may want to measure less often. It depends on what type of information you're gathering and it depends on how quickly that information changes, and, more importantly, how quickly that information changes in a way that matters. It may change daily, but the daily differences may not have any impact on pushing you towards the goal you're tracking for.


So, definitely, 10 out of 10 recommend this book. I come back to it often.


Okay. A little bit about the layouts that I'm working with for 2021. This is what I've landed on so far for my monthly layout, something like this. Disregard my lettering and other things, but I want to have a snapshot of the month to see important dates, timelines, deadlines, things like that, anniversaries, a snapshot of the month. And then, I want a list of my long-term goals. And I'll compare that month to month and add to it, take things away as we check those off, but the list of long-term goals is here.


Then, I have a habit tracker. And you'll see this on the daily view as well, but this habit tracker is just that visual dashboard representation. I've got five habits that I'm wanting to track starting, and that is my workout routine, journaling routine, my content creation, my water intake, which I wanted to work on for a long time, and simple, it doesn't always have to be these big things, but flossing I need to floss more. So, that's what's on my habit tracker. And it just corresponds to the week, it just extends here, so at the end of the week I'll take the data from my daily views and see if I hit the goals that I set for myself, if so, color in the box.


Similar to the monthly view of the long-term goals. With the progress bar here, I take each of those long-term goals from the overview and put them into a progress bar. At the end of each week, I'll come back in and see if there are any changes to be made to this. So, as the month's going through these progress bars are getting filled up, and hopefully, by the end of the month, we're seeing some progress on each of those.


Okay. Not much tracking going on in my current weekly view. I just want this -- again, dig a little bit more detailed into big things that are coming up in the week. I'll lay this out at the beginning of the week. Some things, though, that will help me progress from goal to goal are how I define success this week. So, that's something I want to keep present, top of mind, what does success look like this week. If you're in sales that might be making a certain number of sales calls, it might be landing a certain number of calls. But, what does success look like to you this week, so that as you're reflecting day by day, it's not just about how you feel at the end of the day but you've got a standard that you've set for yourself to show you you are working towards success, and this is the definition. Then, of course, just little reminders of things I have to do, a quote of the week, things like that.


Then, we come to the daily tracker. This is how I'm currently laying out my days. And I'll kind of walk you through it here, but basically, time blocks here. And those just starting -- the day before I'll usually lay this out in my evening kind of recap time, I'll lay out the next day and put in my time blocks. And really usually all that's filled in to start with is when I plan to wake up and any appointments that I already have preset and the rest is left empty.


Then, this is the morning kind of brain dump, and all the tasks I can think of that I should be working on today will go here, they will get categorized, and I didn't do a key today because I use the same symbols every time, so I didn't feel the need to take up that space. But categorize them and then get the most important things scheduled in a time block. That is the key for me to get them done and alleviate some stress that I do have time to get these things done. By taking those tasks and putting them in an actual time block, it ensures that I’m moving towards those goals.


Gratitude here, morning and evening. You'll see this day I didn't come back and do my reflection, but in the evening I would fill in the pm gratitude, reflect on wins for the day, or challenges.


Here's where I would have tasks that relate to those long-term goals. So, these are just daily things I've got to get done, but strategically this is where the magic happens and pushing myself towards those long-term goals. So, if I have a goal of, let's say, closing a certain number of sales in a month, what am I going to do today that's going to be a step towards that goal. So, this is a more intentional small task list focused on reaching those goals. Some days there are no steps taken and some days this is filled up, but this is a more intentional space to push me towards those goals.


This is the habit tracker section here. So, at the end of the week, I'll go back and look at each day and just compare that to the goal. I wanted to work out five days a week, do I have five checkmarks, if so -- or reflect that on the monthly page.


Reflections are just a general area to just kind of have a few thoughts from the day, a few takeaways, a few reflections.


Personal purpose, I'll fill this in here. But these are the things that are the most important to me. When I develop my personal purpose it ended up in these areas: faith, partner, leader, and father. And so, at the end of the day, I'll just use this like those charts you've probably seen in different places, and if I feel like I was about there on faith, kind of there is a partner, leader maybe I didn't check in with staff as much as I wanted to today, as a father. You get the point. So, I'll usually fill that in, color them in, and that's just a daily graphical touch base with myself on how I’m doing. So, that is not leading to a concrete goal, but it's just a way for me to touch base with myself and re-center on what my purpose is to make adjustments and prepare my intentions for the next day.


And of course, in tomorrow's section, anything I didn't get done that is important and still relevant will flow on to tomorrow and end up on the beginning of that day's task list.


So, this is what I'm doing this next year. I'm looking for inspiration, I'm looking for new tools, and really, again, this is focused on moving towards a goal. So, decide what the important things are. To me, the important things for my personal growth are going to be my habits, personal things for both my business and personal growth are going to be my long-term goals I'm setting, and I'm touching base with those data points daily, weekly, monthly, and this is the setup that's helping me do that.


So, this is what I'm asking from you, if you would please share your best tips to using a system like this, the best way to track goals short term and long term in this format, I would really appreciate it. So, please comment on this post, give me your tips, give me other accounts to follow, share other videos to watch. I'm very interested in getting this right because I'm convinced that getting the data is one of the key steps towards reaching our goals. What gets measured gets improved, and I want to make sure I'm doing all I can in 2021 to move towards these goals.


So, thank you in advance, and please like, please save this video, share it with someone that is starting, send me some folks that are further along so that I can learn from them, and have a great day.

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