Staying Curious in 2021

In a world of habit apps and project management tools, I made a simple spreadsheet.

Happy New Year, you curious cats!

Everyone’s excited for 2021. I’ve seen some very thorough annual reviews circulating the Twittersphere. You all have some zeal for your goals, and I’m excited to see what everyone creates this year.

Some goals require systems to achieve. This is where a dreamer like me can get lost if I’m not strategic. I need a system that will keep me on track towards my bigger goals so I don’t spend all my time in Idea Land.

Especially when it comes to physical goals, it’s easiest to break them down into daily and weekly tasks (aka: habits). The more automated a task becomes, the less you have to negotiate with yourself about getting your important (but maybe not always fun) tasks done.

As a special thanks for subscribing to Staying Curious, I’ll share my 2021 habit-tracking method and template. I’ve also updated my website with this new-and-improved system, but the template is exclusively for my subscribers.

2021 daily task tracker

My goals involve building strength and flexibility, keeping active, and thinking more clearly. Thus, I set out to do the following daily tasks:

  • Yoga (~30 minutes)

  • Walk 5-10K steps

  • Meditate 10-30 minutes

  • Don’t drink alcohol

  • Lift (3x weekly)

I feel motivated by visual representations of my pacing towards my targets. I also need a fast and easy way to indicate whether or not I achieved my tasks (and if not, why). Otherwise, it’ll become too cumbersome, and I won’t maintain the routine of tracking my progress. (I do use the Streaks habit app, but I still wanted to see a color-coded snapshot of my progress in one glance. So I made my own sheet.)

Each of my daily tasks gets its own tab. Every day, I add a 1 in the correspondent cell if I completed the given task, and a 0 if I did not. 1s turn the cell green and 0s turn it red. The goal is to fill the sheet with green over the year, and obviously, avoid red.

Additionally, I’ve always wanted a “scorecard” so I can assign a number to my actions, or lack thereof. I’m not necessarily advocating for quantifying everything we do, but this is something I’ve wanted to play with for a while. So I’m going to experiment with it and see how it motivates me.

The score doesn’t tell the full story. This is why I leave a column for notes each week; I can indicate how I’m feeling and any other noteworthy nuance. Sometimes we don’t achieve the habits we set out to do, but it’s because we spent that time on a spontaneous yet important task, such as supporting a friend in need.

Last but not least, I added a simplified weekly review tab. My former weekly review process had become unmanageable as it required too much of my time to complete. It grew into an overly intricate monster.

I’m inspired by the simplicity of Ness Labs’ Plus Minus Next journaling, so I’ll be using the same format. It allows me to drop bullet points about what went well, what didn’t go well, and what I’m focusing on next. Doesn’t take more than 10 minutes each week.

I use this sheet to track routines, and I use Notion as my “life project manager.” I recommend it for more complex systems, such as tracking and managing professional goals.

What are the daily tasks you aim to complete so you can get closer to your goals this year? If you think this system could help you, here’s a template. Create a copy and fit it to your goals for 2021!

My brother gets auras, a type of seizure. I helped him turn this sheet into an aura tracker so he’ll have a quick glimpse of how frequently he’s getting them, and be able to point out any potential triggers. This will be very helpful when he goes to the neurologist, who always wants as much data as possible to maximize his care. So, get creative — there are a lot of ways you can use this sheet to make your life 1% better.

Stay curious this year,

What systems are you implementing to maintain your habits this year? Tweet me @CoShelbysmith or shoot me a reply!