September is always a hectic time in academia: depending on your campus’s schedule, you might be a few weeks into classes or just getting started. As I’ve been starting to get the hang of life at a new university, for a while I let everything else slip: exercise became something I fit in when possible instead of scheduled, and, as one of my friends put it, I regressed to eating like a college student. Getting these types of priorities back on the to-do list can feel impossible when it’s already overwhelmed with new semester commitments.
While I still swear by a small physical notepad for keeping track of my academic task list, writing down my daily resolutions on that list can make it quickly overwhelming. However, not having those types of priorities anywhere in my records makes it too easy to ignore the areas in which I’ve fallen behind my goals. So recently, I’ve been trying different apps for keeping track of a daily checklist of habits as a way of tracking my daily activities. Habits work best for me when they are reasonable and achievable on an everyday basis. We know that working small on some things everyday is our best hope for progress--I’ve taken ideas like Ryan’s suggestion to write 20 minutes a day and made 1000 words one of my daily goals. Work-related daily tasks like writing go alongside wellness goals like doing something active, and thus become a record of my work-life balance success and failure.
There are a number of apps that work well for this type of record keeping. The one I’m currently using is called Way of Life. It acts a quick checklist for goals I’ve set out on my daily list and also offers a lot of ways to visualize progress over time. It’s not really a social app, which is what I prefer--no one but me needs to know how badly I’m doing on my “eat a vegetable” streak this month. Looking back at the visual records of the app alongside my calendar, it makes it easy to see how certain types of commitments or events (like heavily scheduled conferences) have a tendency to throw off my sleep and exercise routines, and from there I can watch my swings in productivity and try to regain control.
Do you have a system for tracking and establishing daily habits? Share your tips in the comments!