A Complete Guide to using a Habit Tracker Printable + 50 Ideas

What Is a Habit Tracker Printable?

It’s often said that great habits form the foundation of a great life. However, replacing old behaviours with new ones can sometimes be difficult. Enter the printable habit tracker. Simply put, a printable habit tracker is a way to track your daily behaviours with pen and paper. This is a powerful way to audit your day-to-day actions, and habit trackers aren’t just for ordinary folks. In fact, some of the world’s most famous celebrities and athletes use habit trackers regularly.

The comedian Jerry Seinfeld, for example, has famously used his calendar to track his work habits for several years. He puts a large “X” next to every day that he writes down at least one funny joke, and he chains all of the X’s together to show himself how many days in a row he’s met his goal. Jerry has remarked over and over again that setting a simple goal of not breaking the chain of X’s helps him to be more consistent in his comedy writing. 

Seinfeld’s calendar hack, however, is just a very simple example of what you can do with a full-scale printable habit tracker. Many people track more than one habit at a time and set up feedback loops for themselves to make sure they stick to their habits. If you’re really ambitious, you can separate the various habits that you want to track into several buckets, organize these buckets by the area of your life that they have an impact on, and then give yourself a productivity score at the end of every week. 

Understanding the Structure of a Habit

Psychologists and behavioural experts have spent years analysing how humans form habits, and they think they’ve figured out why some people are successful at changing their behaviours while others try for years and only end up failing. In summary, it all comes down to identifying a habit’s key components and then establishing a constant feedback loop to correct undesirable behaviours.  

Most people think of a habit as a behaviour, but scientists have actually found that habits tend to have the following three components:

  1. The “Cue”
  2. The “Routine”
  3. The “Reward”

The Cue

The cue is the stimulus from your outer or inner environment that triggers the habitual behaviour. If you tend to lay in bed and check your email immediately after waking up, for example, then the cue for the email checking behaviour is simply waking up. We all tend to behave in certain ways at certain times of the day and when we are in certain environments. Identifying the cues that are driving each of our habits is crucial if we ever want to change them.

Moreover, these cues don’t have to be external. If you always get up and start pacing around the room when you think about a certain subject, then thinking about the subject is an internal cue. The more that you can identify your internal habit cues, the faster that you can take control of your behaviour and change your life. 

The Routine

The routine is the “doing” part associated with the habit. Behaviours like smoking a cigarette, meditating, or emotional eating are all routines. These are the habit components that everybody focuses on changing, but it’s important to understand that they always come after some kind of cue. This is why drug rehabilitation programs, for example, are often set in isolated locations. The most important part of changing a habit is often removing the cues that trigger the undesired behaviour in the first place.

The Reward

The reward component is pretty self-explanatory. It’s the emotional, physical, or material gain that you receive as a result of engaging in the routine. It’s the money you make from going to work every day, the high that you feel after you have a great workout, and the feeling that you get when somebody likes a post that you make on social media. Rewards are extremely powerful, and they can be used to shape our habits very easily. 

How Using A Printable Habit Tracker Makes Changing Your Behaviours Easier

Now that you understand the structure of a habit, you’re ready to understand what makes habit trackers so powerful. Generally speaking, using a habit tracker makes it easy to interrupt your routine before you engage in undesirable behaviours. By using the habit tracker every day, you’ll be calling attention to your actions. This, in turn, will lead to increased self-awareness and interrupt the previous “habit wiring” in your brain. Instead of merely responding to the old cue with an automatic behaviour, you’ll be thinking about your habit tracker before you decide what to do.

This sounds like a simple thing, but it can make all of the difference in the world. 

The Two Biggest Benefits of Using A Printable Habit Tracker

  1. Increased Focus: Every minute that you spend thinking about how you should really change your habits is one less minute that you are actually replacing old habits with new behaviours. As you start using your habit tracker more regularly, your brain will come to understand that it can occupy itself with other thoughts. You’ll be able to simply go about your day and record your actions at the end of it. Many people are shocked at how much extra mental energy and focus they unleash when they record all of their habit tracking in one dedicated place. 
  2. Increased Confidence: One of the best things about using a habit tracker is the sense of pride you feel when you look at all of the progress you’re making. Tracking your habit accomplishments and holding yourself accountable for your behaviours can do wonders for your self-esteem.  No longer will you have to wonder if you’re keeping your promises to yourself. You’ll know right away if you’re starting to slip into old habits, and you’ll be able to use this feedback loop to quickly get back on track. 

How to Start Habit Tracking

Step 1: Resolutions are good, but Goals are better

The first and the most important thing to remember when you start habit tracking is to set yourself a proper goal and not just make a resolution. For example, saying that you will lose weight is a resolution. But the question still remains of what exactly are you going to track to make sure that you actually lose weight. That’s where goals come in. A goal related to the weight loss resolution would be that you will lose 5 kgs in 2 months. As a first step in your habit tracking journey that is a very quantifiable goal which can be easily measured.  

Step 2: Make an action plan on how to achieve the goal

While that is a good first step we need to go further and drill down on what are the habits that need to be tracked to achieve this goal. Remember the Cue, Routine, Reward thing we discussed earlier. It will be very effective if you aim to break habits around the Cue part of your goal. For example, you may need to do 45 minutes of exercise at least 5 days a week. As you can see that is a very trackable habit. You can also see that the habit is binary; in the sense it is either a yes, I did it or no, I didn’t. 

Expanding on this goal further, other related habits that you may think of tracking are – meal prep and fluid intake. Each of these can be tracked individually. A word of caution here. Start small and then expand the list of habits you wish to change in order to avoid failure from overwhelm.

Step 3: Choose your method

There are several choices to be made here. Will you be tracking your habit daily, weekly or monthly? Once you have decided on that you need to choose what type of habit tracker you would prefer. This would depend entirely on what best matches your personality and individual method of doing things You could choose between a bullet journal style tracker, a phone app, a digital tracker in a personalised design which you can use on your tablet or iPad and last but not the least my personal favourite – a printable habit tracker. 

A printable tracker is highly customisable to whatever it is that you are tracking and there are several very pretty designs available. Also, printable trackers rate high on accessibility as it is possible to hang/stick them up anywhere. It is as simple as putting them on your fridge door or mirror or any place that you will frequently see. This will ensure that you do not forget using them. I am sharing below my favourite printable habit tracker for FREE so that you can get started right away. 

The final choice to make is about the layout itself. This depends on what best appeals to you. Trackers are available in vertical, horizontal and even circular formats. 


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Step 4: Get into the habit of tracking

As common sensical as the heading sounds, this is the step at which most people fail. You have the goal broken down to trackable habits. But then you forget to track or simply don’t get into the habit of tracking! Most people start on a high note but stop tracking after the first week or two. There are a million reasons why this happens. However, what is important is not why it happened but how to overcome it. 

The simplest way is to remember that habit tracking is also a habit. This is where printable habit trackers are very handy. You can place them in an area of your house that you see very often, like the fridge, your dressing mirror and so on. Then set yourself a reminder for a particular time of day. This way there are several visual and other triggers that will ensure that you get into the habit of habit tracking.

Step 5: How to recover if your habit breaks down

In spite of our best intentions, it is only natural that our motivation will wane. That could be in a few weeks or a few months, but it is something that is bound to happen at some point. It is therefore advisable to expect this and prepare for it. 

So, what is it that you can do dust yourself and get back up on track? Firstly, do not get discouraged, know that it is normal to slip up. More often than not slippages are one off events. Try not to have two consecutive slips. As James Clear says in his popular book Atomic Habits, “Missing once is an accident. Missing twice is the start of a new habit.” Remember that your habit tracker needn’t always be like Jerry Seinfeld’s chain of perfect X’s. The ability to get back on track is more important than perfection. So, after you have had a short break, liven up your habit tracking by choosing a different layout or new design and get back on track. There are plenty of options available on the net for new designs. There is also a handy list of habit trackers you can buy at the end of this post. Lastly, mark out a few break days in your habit tracker. This will help you to keep going for longer by reducing fatigue.

Step 6: How long to track

This is the most frequently asked question when it comes to habit tracking. A truthful answer that that is that there is no fixed number of days in which one can build a habit or a break a habit. It depends on your individual personality, conditioning, your culture, and circumstances. So, your approach should be to track it till you can’t picture your day without the habit. Even after that, it is possible that you may falter. If that happens, don’t be disheartened. Just start tracking it again till you have internalised it again. The whole point is to take small steps towards a lifestyle change!

Step 7: Reward yourself when you reach a milestone

Last but not the least, reward yourself at every milestone. Habit tracking is not a punishment, it is meant to be an enjoyable experience. That being the case, positive reinforcements become very important. So, if you do something continuously for a month, give yourself a reward. That will keep you motivated and create a positive loop.

The Top 50 Habits to Track

The exact habits that you’ll want to record will obviously depend on your unique lifestyle, but we’ve put together the top 50 behaviours that people love to track:

Daily Routine Habits

1. Wakeup Time: It’s often said that a productive day begins by getting out of bed before the sun comes up and tracking what time you wake up can help you avoid hitting the snooze button over and over.

2. Getting A Certain Amount of Sleep: Setting a sleep goal can be a great way to make sure you wake up feeling refreshed the next day.

3. Reading Time: Want to read for a certain amount of time every week? A habit tracker can help.

4. House Chores: Cleaning your bedroom once a week is never fun, but it’s usually a good idea.

5. Calling Your Parents: It’s always nice to keep in touch.

6. Punctuality: Are you always on time for meetings?

Self-Care Habits

7. Meditation: You’ve probably heard about the benefits of meditation but building this habit can take a lot of discipline!

8. Relaxation Time: Life can be stressful, so it’s wise to make sure you’re scheduling time to unwind. 

9. Journaling: This is an underrated but highly effective habit. 

Health Related Habits

10. Daily Vitamins and Supplements: If you have a multivitamin or other supplement that you need to remember to take every day, try putting them down on your habit tracker!

11. Any Medications: Add any medications to take right next to the section for your vitamins and supplements. 

12. Health Conditions: Use your habit tracker to track any symptoms or health conditions that you are worried about. 

13. Skincare Routine: This can be as simple as a basic face wash or as complex as going to the spa several times per week. 

14. Water: The experts say to drink at least 64 oz. every day, so make sure that you’re getting enough to stay hydrated. 

15. Oral Care Routine: Flossing daily is a great habit to build. 

16. Stretching Before Bed: Even if you have an exercise routine already, stretching before bed can help you relax. 

17. Daily Walks: Walking can be a low-stress way to unwind while getting some physical activity. 

18. Standing Desk: If you’re trying to transition to a standing desk, then setting a goal to use it for at least a few hours per day can help you make the switch.

Diet/Eating Related Habits

19. Healthy Snacks: Studies have found that the easiest way to cut down on foods like cookies is to replace them with vegetables and other filling snacks.  

20. Coffee Consumption: Tracking the number of cups of coffee that you have per day can help you cut back. 

21. Alcohol Habits: If you’d like to reduce your alcohol consumption, setting goals in your habit tracker may help. 

22. Soda Drinking: Fortunately, cutting back on your soda consumption can be much easier than quitting caffeine! 

23. Eating Enough Vegetables: This one should be quite easy to track. 

24. Tracking Your Calories: Lots of apps exist that can calculate your calories for you instead of having to manually add them up every day.

25. Macronutrient Targets: Ketogenic dieters, this one’s for you. 

26. Dining Out: Feel you’re spending too much money on eating out? Tracking this habit can help you keep more of the money you earn. 

27: Cooking for Yourself: Making your own meals is one of the best ways to stick to your diet and eat great food without spending a fortune.

28. Family Dinners: Life can move pretty fast but scheduling regular dinners with your family can help you remember the things that matter most.

Fitness Related Habits

29. Running: Do you have a goal to run a certain number of miles every week?

30. Mobility Exercises: Mobility exercises aren’t glamorous, but they can improve your flexibility and save your joints. 

31. Strength Training: Your printable habit tracker won’t completely replace your actual workout log, but it can serve as a healthy reminder to stick to your strength training routine. 

32. Daily Steps: Even if you already track your steps on your smart watch, writing a specific movement goal down on your printable habit tracker down can help you remember to take regular walking breaks.

33. Yoga: Yoga is one of those habits that can be hard to start, but it’s also tough to stop once you get going. 

34. Fitness Classes: Do you have a goal to attend regular fitness classes or personal training sessions?

35. Interval Training: Regular interval training is one of the most time-efficient ways to burn calories. 

36. Morning Stretching Routine: Just taking five minutes to stretch when you wake up can do wonders for your body.

37. Taking The Stairs: This one of the easiest ways to move more throughout the course of your day. 

Digital Life Habits

38. Social Media Usage: There are plenty of apps out there that can track how much time you spend on all of the major social media channels but putting a hard limit down on paper helps you stay disciplined. 

39. Time Spent on YouTube: Isn’t it amazing how taking a quick look at one video can lead to three hours of lost time?

40. Number of Times You Checked Email: Some people like to track the total number of times they check email, and others just like to track whether or not checking email is the first thing they do after waking up.

41. Turning Your Phone Off Before Bed: Studies have shown that people sleep better when they turn off their phone at least 60 minutes before laying down for bed.

42. Playing Games on Your Phone at Work: If you start tracking this habit, you might be amazed at just how much time you’re spending on mobile gaming.

43. Keeping Your Email Inbox at Zero: It’s tough to reach inbox zero the first time, but it gets easier with practice.

Other/Miscellaneous Habits

44. Writing Down Your Goals Every Day: This one is a famous habit of high performers from all walks of life.

45. Planning Your Day Before You Start Working: Reviewing your objectives for the day before you start working can keep you from getting distracted.

46. Donating to Charity: Tracking your donations can help you reach any philanthropy goals that you have.

47. Practicing A New Skill: This could be anything from learning guitar to learning a new computer programming language. 

48. Reviewing Your Goals Every Day: After you get in the habit of writing down your daily goals, holding a daily review session where you go over the progress that you’ve made toward reaching them can be an exciting thing to do. 

49. Budgeting/Planning Your Finances: Blocking out some time to review your finances each week can help you feel more in control of your money.

50. Using Your Habit Tracker Every Day!

The Best Habit Trackers That You Can Buy Right Now


I hope that this post has proved useful to you. If you want to save this so that you can come back and read again later, use the image below to pin to your Pinterest board.

guide to a printable habit tracker

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