I wrote Productivity, Health & Habit Tracking Tools article 2.5 years ago and it is still a good guide and primer. I suggest you take a look at both articles and see what will work for you.
I take my recommendations v seriously and this article will share:
A) My philosophy toward self-improvement & building habits for health, mental wellness, and productivity
C) Daily Affirmation
D) Habit Tracking Apps
E) Visualisation & Gratitude Apps
F) Home Workout Apps
I wrote about my philosophy toward self-improvement and habit-tracking and I feel like I should share it again.
My philosophy toward self-improvement & building habits for health, mental wellness, and productivity
“If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.”
I need to share my philosophy to ensure alignment in the approach and thought process, not because I need an audience. An explanation of how I approach things prevents misunderstandings and unrealistic expectations.
I believe in constant reinvention and self-improvement. Many people see self-improvement as a “woo woo“, “you-must-be-a-loser” lens… but I am a sucker and lap up these things. I believe in always trying to find ways to maximize peak performance. I want to focus on what’s important, prepare for life’s big events and show up as the best version of myself when it counts. Only then I can take care of my loved ones, teams, and business teams. Also, forming good habits, no matter how small, always create ripple effects.
While some people have found shortcuts and great hacks and usually reach the desired destination faster, I tend to be a struggler. For example, I always envy and admire Jaelle Ang, my cousin/ friend. She has always managed to hack her way with great discipline and success. I don’t have that high tolerance for pain… and am seriously lazy.
Here’s what I believe:
– Stacking good habits require a system with the path of least resistance*
– Success deserves rewards, failure demands reflections
– You need to track the changes to know how you fare
– Building habits take time and perseverance
– The advisable way is to do small changes but I tend to be all-or-nothing
*Basically the best process is one where:
1) you don’t allow yourself to bargain with yourself
2) SO EASY you can’t or don’t think of not doing it
3) you have no chance of opting out
Best if it’s a part of your routine. For example, a 5-minute workout while you are making coffee.
Trust me, we are all lazy. No matter how self-motivated you are, there are times when you will convince yourself NOT to do something. Or maybe, that you deserve a break or a reward for being good. At times, you will even cave in and binge on the very things you are not supposed to do… countering all the good that you have been doing. It happens and you should never trust and depend solely on your intrinsic motivation. But you shouldn’t beat yourself up too much and wallow in self-pity or blame.
The key to loving yourself deeply is doing what you say you’re gonna do. Doing what needs to be done, even when you don’t want to do it. ESPECIALLY when you don’t want to do it.
Put past what you think or want. Don’t break the promises you make to yourself. Fulfill the contact with yourself, so you build a foundation to be a better version of yourself.
Things I want to add in 2023
– Realised to keep my routine, the key is waking up early enough = immediately getting out of the house ==> guarding my sleep time = getting to bed early even if I don’t want to. That includes putting down work, stopping watching Netflix, stopping chatting/ scrolling, or coming home early to ensure I adhere to the time I need to go to bed.
– Never miss a habit twice. I try to adhere to this rule so I don’t slide and censure myself.
I have cycled through many different journals with varying degrees of success. So I knew what would work for me and I wanted a journal that helps to set goals and track my progress, plan my day (To-do list, appointments, tasks), gratitude & reflections, journal and empty pages to scribble
After researching, I found one that fits my needs — Intelligent Change Quarterly productivity planner. This is a 90-day planning system and is for quarterly goal setting and review and monthly calendars to organize your priorities for the next 90 days.
This journal is a great hybrid of a goal and habit tracker, a daily planner, and a short journal for gratitude and reflections. It has daily self-growth prompts and a mood tracker to balance productivity and mindful living. Not too touchy-feely but not all business. For the Notes page, I use affirmation cards to write an encouraging mantra daily at the top part and scribble my tasks or anything I want to jot down at the bottom.
Weekly Planning and Weekly Review sections which are important to me. I need to plan my week and review it and sometimes, daily planners just don’t cut it.
The only issue I find with the journal is it’s not that intuitive and you have to read the instructions to fully understand how to maximize the journal. It takes a bit of reading and practice. I also started practicing the Pomodoro technique after using the journal to avoid distractions.
I guess it’s a hybrid so can be neither here nor there.
Daily Affirmations / Mantras
I have 2 boxes of prompts (see below image) just because I cannot come up with these encouraging words myself.
Habit Tracking Apps
I have tried 30-40 habit trackers and I spent a lot of time testing and tinkering with them. Finally settled on 2. I wanted to make sure that it’s the best/ most useful.
Features I look for: Data, flexibility in inputting habits, daily/weekly/monthly tracking, and statistics. Easy to use and has a pretty interface.
Amazing flexibility in setting your habit. They have pre-saved templates but you can customize them. You can also track by:
Habit (repeating action)
Target (number by date)
Average (repeating number)
Project (actions by date)
You need to play around with them and it’s really not intuitive but once you get the hang of it, this feature is mind-blowingly good. You can even track the progress of your projects.
– The data dashboard is pretty meh. I don’t get much joy or insight from it.
– Sterile looking.
– A lot of built-in templates and habits with reasons why you should do them, research, and suggestions.
– Offers you optimal routines and habits. For example, if you choose the Lose Weight options, it comes with 12 pre-set habits for you to track
– Supposedly has AI to help you optimize your routine but I am not there yet.
– Has a journal function where you can set your intention and gratitude in the morning and reflect and rate your date in the evening. This is where Ultiself really wins for me. I like this function because it’s easy to journal, reflect and track your habits in the same app. In fact, if you don’t like pen and paper, this is really a good hybrid.
– The stats dashboard is better than Strides.
– Templates provided are fixed and can’t be customized. For example, if you choose the “Exercise” habit, you can’t change it. I like my habits to be specific so my Exercise habit is “Exercise 40 minutes or walk 8000 steps” but this is not doable. I also like to put emojis for my habits (don’t ask me why!)… so this kinda annoys me. I mean, Reading as a habit is good but I like to put “Read 30 minutes”.
– Some habits are pretty…. interesting.
– I don’t fancy the design. Somehow the images, rounded edge, and boxes and orange just bother me. They feel dated and loud.
Which app do I prefer?
I am using both but I gravitate more toward Strides for now. I like the flexibility in customizing the habits. I am even using it for the progress of a project I am doing. As a pure habit tracker app, Strides is as good as it gets for me
Ultiself is really good too, especially if you are starting out to track your habit and require more assistance and suggestion. It’s easy to journal, reflect and track your habits in the same app. In fact, if you don’t like pen and paper, this is really a good hybrid.
Ultimately, I think what matters is which app you will use religiously.
Visualisation & Gratitude Apps
EnVision is a guided visualization app designed to help you achieve your goals and live the life you truly desire.
For vision boards and gratitude quotes. I use it as widgets on my phone pages.
Home Workout Apps
For strength training: FitBod
Fitbod adapts to support you when your fitness goals evolve, gym equipment changes, or when you need some variety to stay motivated. Basically, the app asks you what your goal is and what equipment, and where you are. The exercises suggested will be based on your input.
For HIIT: Sweat app
Easy-to-follow beginner, intermediate and advanced workouts, including:
– HIIT (High-intensity interval training)
– Circuit Training
– Bodyweight exercises
– Strength training
– Pregnancy and postnatal
For Yoga: Alo Moves
Online yoga, fitness, barre, pilates and meditation classes. Thousands of classes for body, mind, and spirit.