How to track your habits! App, Notebook or Filofax?

How do you force yourself to stick to your daily routine, or develop a habit? As a general rule of thumb if you keep doing something often enough it will become second nature. But how do you remind yourself and track your progress?

A couple of years ago I started out using one of my Cath Kidston notebooks as a habit and goals journal. I carried it in my bag during my daily commute. However the problem was – checking off the habit diary needed to be built into part of my morning routine as well and it wasn’t yet – so quite frequently I forgot.

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While the notebook was perfect for this use, I kept forgetting about the notebook – so it didn’t really help me develop the habits. The only habit I successfully managed during this period was giving up my Starbucks in the morning. And that had nothing to do with the notebook.

Next was the filofax:

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This time I used it for my blogging habits, tucked securely into the “blogging” section of my Filofax. Again I had to remember to look at it, but since looking at my Filofax was already part of the morning routine it was one step closer. I also took the opportunity to sketch out a nice little chart for recording my habits. The downside, I don’t always check my Filofax first thing on a weekend if at all, so on the weekend, things just weren’t getting done.

Last week I decided to try the habit streak app (free version) on my phone – so far it is working well:

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It is really simple to use: you type in habits you want to achieve (a really simple initial set up and set a reminder for it to ask you whether this has been done). I have set my reminder for 8am (the is about the time I will have arrived in the office and just made my first cuppa). So each morning I get a simple notification on my phone asking me if I did the items the previous day and I just tick them off.

The app is advertised as recording you streaks (how long you kept it up for) rather than reminding you to do the daily task. But I find that it is a reminder, a reminder to keep yourself in check and record whether you are completing the task (and the streak count allows you to see how well you are doing it).

Downside: I hate cluttering up my phone with apps, I much prefer that my clutter is filed and organised within the cover of my Filofax, however, until the habits form, I might just have to settle for the electronic solution.

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What do you find is the best way to store magazines?

The number of magazines lying on and around my desk is building up and quite frankly it is a mess. Some organisation is required. I usually store magazines in magazine holders at work (and the good old magazine rack at home).

However, when I was younger I used to have binding strips to put my magazine collections in binders/lever arch folders – that way I had one per magazine collection (organised chronologically of course).

I have not seen any of these in a while and was wondering of people still used them? I will have to hunt some down and report back properly.

Any alternative suggestions for how to store and organise magazines would be appreciated?

Another 365 day project – have you taken up the challenge?

Monday morning has come round again – and as usual the weekend was crammed with errands. While my OH was battling with the bank, I took the opportunity to dabble in Oliver Bonas. For those of you who have not ventured into Oliver Bonas, they sell a mix of clothes, furniture, homeware, jewellery, gifts, books and of course the reason I go in… Notebooks.

I came across the “one good deed a day” journal. As readers are probably aware, I don’t really need another journal and I am currently continuing along quite happily with my simple diary (also available from Oliver Bonas I will add) so I did not make a purchase this time. But it is a great idea, and a pretty journal.

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The journal contains 365 good deeds – you can do them in any order (and just write in the date you do them with reflections) or as I suspect would be more challenging – try to do them in order. I might be a little too naughty for such a book, but it is certainly inspiring and a great challenge for those who love daily projects.

I’d be interested to know if anyone has taken up the challenge and bought this journal?

The Simple Diary

I am a big fan of snap shot journals that simply record moments in life – I mentioned a few in my y is for year post as part of the a to z challenge.

One I didn’t mention is Keel’s Simple Diary. This is because I think of it as more of a diary than a memory journal. But it does have a similar aim. Think of it as a journal for busy people who still want to keep a record of their life/make memories, but maybe don’t have the time. It is engaging and only takes a moment of your time. Their website has a great interactive view of the book, which shows it off better than any pictures would.

With an any date format, and a daily fill in the blank exercise, and some wit and wisdom.

There is also a companion android and iPhone app for those of who want to use it on the move. This is also pretty great as it allows you to add pictures, and tag people and places. A more fun, interactive diary for those who maybe aren’t as used to keeping a diary, but like sharing what they are doing on Facebook. The basic app is free and the full volume one can be purchased for 69p. Below are some screenshots, to show you a few examples from the app.

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Unfortunately there is no iPad app for me (and I hate iPhone apps on the iPad, they just aren’t neat) so I’ll be sticking to the paper version – for now.

Squared notes – my Filofax mini lists

A couple of years ago I went on a shopping binge in the states one of the items I bought was a rainbow spiral notepad of square post-it sized paper. I had 5 minutes before the shop closed and bought it thinking they were sticky notes. No such luck.

Nevertheless they proved a great addition to my desk and handy for writing quick notes down on in the office (and also quite funny watching people steal them thinking they were sticky notes and try to stick them).

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One great thing is they are perfect for slotting into my personal Filofax. I tend to use them for the additional mini Iists that I need, whether it is my todo list for the week (to make me look at it) or a list to things to pack like in the one pictured.

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Bright, vibrant and eye catching. I do keep a running to do list towards the back of my Filofax, but it is nice to put the immediate or important todos right at the front where I will see them – after all the thing I use the Filofax for most is checking my diary.

What is your Canvas?

The sky is your canvas with the skywriting journal, it is similar to the walls notebook which is perfect for graffiti doodles. The pictures in these notebooks are your pages, your canvas. Unfortunately for me they more likely to inspire me to doodle, than write but i find them inspiring nonetheless (and relaxing in the case of the sky journal).

Pictures and photos make a great canvas or backdrop for a notebook, and a recycled or up cycled notebook is frequently made up of such images. Ideally what pictures do you think make the best canvas?

Personally I love postcards. Postcards as a canvas are great, provide inspiration but leave room to write and you get so many classic images on postcards. My favourite postcards as landscape scenes, quirky sketches and vintage art.

Why are board games boring? Write in them instead!!

On my #dailycommute this morning I was listening to the radio as usual and they were debating whether board games were boring and why we kept insisting on playing them – monopoly in particular. Personally I am not a huge fan of monopoly, but it is the classic board game, the one everyone has, and the one that seems to keep reinventing itself? Monopoly City anyone?

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The discussion reminded me of some great monopoly notebooks I had come across a while back. A particular favourite is the “bright ideas” one (pictured – picture credit). Something to add to the wish list I think as it reminds me of my childhood days.

And for those of you who make their own notebooks – if you have not already tried it, why not up-cycle/re-cycle a board game for a hard back cover.