The Ultimate Notion Habit Tracker

Create a system that will make sure you stick to your habits.

Dani Canosa
April 20, 2020

Why should we bother tracking our habits?

Let's take a look at two of the most repeated quotes in self-help:

1. “You can't manage what you can't measure.” - Peter Drucker

2. “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” - James Clear

Our brains are incredible. They can perform complex calculations, pick up on the subtlest emotional signals, and visualise into the future. But there's one thing our brains sucks at. Remembering information

Chances are that if I ask you what you ate yesterday for lunch you'd have to think hard.

But if you'd logged it, it'd be as easy as checking your log seeing your meals, and giving me the answer.

This use case may seem irrelevant. But what if you start having acne problem? You'd have a  hard time relying on your memory to discover the foods that are causing it.

We can apply the same thought process to our habits.

Habits are an essential part of our development to become effective humans. Keeping track of them is a way to understand if we're falling behind or not.  Tracking habits can also direct our focus towards our weaker habits – so we can put in the effort to make them stick.

Let's come back to our quotes and see how habit tracking fits in them:

1. “You can't manage what you can't measure.” - Peter Drucker

2. A habit tracking system will help us manage our habits by measuring them.

3. “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” - James Clear

4. By doing it daily, we're creating a system that will increase the odds of us sticking to them.

How to track habits in Notion and discover trends

A habit tracker that just lets you tick off boxes without giving you any data over time cannot achieve what Peter Drucker wanted.

We need to find a way to make sure that each time we check off a habit, the data gets stored somewhere so we can make sense of it later.

In my case, I calculate these averages weekly, but feel free to choose a different time interval.

Enough theory, let's get into the building.

Building our Daily Log database

First, we're going to need two databases. One for daily entries and another for calculating weekly averages.

You can create them by typing "/table"

The Daily Log database is going to hold one entry per day. The Weeks database, one per week.

Now, we are going to prepare our Daily Log database to be able to hold data for each of our habits. We're going to do this by creating as many "checkbox" properties as habits we want to track. In my case it's going to be three, reading, meditating and going to the gym. I hope this helps my meditation stick once and for all.

Next we're going to link both databases. This will allow us to pass and send data from the Daily Log database to our Weeks database. This way we can calculate how many checkboxes were checked off for a particular week.

To link both databases, create a new "relation" property in the Daily Log database. You'll then be asked which database you want to relate to, select the Weeks database.

Building our weeks database.

With our daily database built, it's time to move onto the weeks databse.

The purpose of this database is to show us the % of times we completed a habit in a week. To do this, we'll need to create three rollup properties, each calculating the "Percent checked" for each of your habits.

You can see the rollup configuration down below.

Once we have our weekly habit percentages in our weeks database, we need a way to have a bigger picture view by calculating our weekly averages. This will allow us to know our general "habit stickiness".

So we're going to build a formula to calculate the average of the three rollups we just created.

Formula: (prop("Reading")+prop("Meditating")+prop("Gym"))/3

This formula is basically adding the % of each habit and dividing it by the total number of habits. There's no automatic average formula in Notion, so we gotta do it manually.

Then we need to format the formula as "Percent"

There's some times we want to be a tad more granular with our data. In Notion we can also perform column-based calculations.

We can then calculate the average performance of each of our habits by clicking the "Calculate" button at the bottom of each column and selecting "Average"

🥂 Congratulations! Now we have the structure of our habit tracking system.

But... how to use this habit tracker?

This habit tracker was built to be as frictionless as possible. I believe that whenever a system becomes difficult to maintain, we end up not using it.

The only maintenance we will need to do is to create a new week every week, and a new daily entry every day.

First, let's create our first week, which is going to be linked to 7 daily logs.

I like to follow the current week's number, so I'm going to name mine W11, which is the week I'm writing this.

If you want, feel free to add a date property to specify the date range this week covers.

Next, in the Daily Log database, I'm going to create one entry for today — "March-17" and link it to W11.

As we keep adding one entry to our Daily Log database every day of the week, checking our habits off as we do them, we'll get something that looks like the below.

This system might be a bit more complex than a few checkboxes but it's so much more powerful. It's going to help us get great insights into how well we're doing with our habits week by week.

Getting this habit tracker to the next level.

Here's a few improvements we can make to improve this habit tracker:

  • Making trends easier to spot: Adding a visual formula that converts the weekly average into a color code can help us do that.
  • Setting up different habits frequencies: This can be done by creating a backend database to hold the weekly frequency we want for each habit and linking it to the weeks database. Then we can tweak our average formula to take those frequencies into account.
  • Knowing in advance if we are on track this week: Taking into account our set habits frequencies, we could calculate using formulas our current week status, and whether or not we NEED to do our habits today in order to achieve our weekly goal.
  • Cross-referencing data: If you integrate this system with your weekly reviews or any other reflection system that you have, you can try to spot any correlation between your habits and your performance, or even your mood.

These are a bit trickier to set-up and would require a more advanced Notion knowledge, but all these extra features are included in this habit tracker.

If you want to see a video explaining this system, check it out check it out over here.

Happy tracking!

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

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