Mar 6, 2019:  ~ 3 min read

Tips for tracking your progress

Two weeks ago I was writing that what gets measured, gets improved; what is not, gets out of hand. One reader asked about some suggestions on good ways to track and my initial reply was to write things down.

For my answer, I took eating as an example. The idea would be to track everything and every time you eat something, including the time. This makes you realise not only what and how much you eat, but how often as well.

  • 2 chips at 16:04? Down in your notebook.
  • A few peanuts at 11:12? Down in your notebook.
  • A full meal at 13:30? Down in your notebook, along with what the meal contained.

Now, this can feel intimidating at first, which is what the same reader felt: that this would make it difficult to track and visualise. And I realised that it’s true, it is hard to visualise and it was a problem I faced myself.

As a concrete example, I eventually realised that despite all my tracking, I still don’t have an easy way to see when I mess up — an important thing I want to be aware of. So I started adding ”😒” next to foods I usually avoid. Much easier to notice when I scroll through my history.

After a while, I realised that sometimes I’m okay with eating something sweet every now and then. Which meant I needed an extra differentiating factor for when I’m not okay with it, so I started adding ”❌”.

Finally, I ended up using ”❌” on its own as well, not just alongside sweets. Final tracking system, so far:

  • 😒 = something I usually avoid — sweets, junk food, etc
  • ❌ = something I shouldn’t have eaten — because I already ate too much, or it was compulsory eating, for example
  • 😒❌ = something I usually avoid and that I shouldn’t have eaten

Now I can easily see when I mess up with foods I try to avoid, when I mess up by eating when I shouldn’t have and when I really mess up by doing both.

Systems evolve naturally, in relation to your needs. Just start with something and you’ll see in time what changes you need. Only by using the system you will find its flaws and you will adjust to them, or create a new one altogether.

But you have to start.

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