How I planLife

How I use habit tracking to reduce stress

Photo of habit tracker printable on a desk with the text "How I use habit tracking to reduce stress"

I depend on my habit tracker to keep my life from falling apart.

Most of us are familiar with using habit tracking to build healthy habits, but I really love it as a tool for stress reduction.

And given the way this year is going, we could all stand to reduce our stress levels.

What I track

Yes, a few of the spaces on my habit tracker are reserved for keeping tabs on my healthy habits, and these habits do help manage my stress because they’re good for my physical and mental health. Making sure I regularly read, journal, and do yoga keeps me feeling good.

But the remaining chunk of tasks that I track is really where the stress reduction happens. These are mostly household chores that need to happen on a weekly or monthly basis, otherwise my house starts to get gross and my mental state crumbles. I track tasks like cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming the house, and reviewing my budget, with a note about how often I plan to do them.

Photo of habit tracker printable and other items on desk

How I track

Once I know what needs to be done and how often—daily, weekly, or monthly—I can use my habit tracker to schedule everything out for the month. If I know I need to vacuum once a week and I plan to do it on Sunday, I’ll cross off every day on my habit tracker except Sunday. Or, if I want to review my budget on the last week of every month, I’ll cross off every day until the last week of the month so I know that’s when I need to tackle it.

Using my habit tracker like this lays everything out so I know exactly when a task needs to get done, and in the meantime I can forget about it. 

Why I track

That’s the best part: forgetting about those tasks in the meantime.

If it’s not Sunday, I’m not even thinking about vacuuming.

If I know that I’m budgeting at the end of the month, I don’t have to worry about it until then.

If you’re anything like me, this will free up a game-changing amount of mental space and make your to-do list a lot less stressful. Before I started tracking my habits and chores, I always had a little voice in my head that nagged at me every single day. When’s the last time I washed the bed sheets? Maybe I should do that today. When’s the last time I called my mom? Maybe I should do that today. When’s the last time I dusted the house? Maybe I should do that today.

You get the idea.

Every day I had a big jumble of tasks floating around in my head that I had to mentally organize and schedule. But when I started putting it all down on paper, I knew exactly what the plan was each day. There was no longer a need to stress about whether it’d been way too long since I’d mopped the floors. I knew exactly when I last did it and when I needed to do it again.

And, best of all, I knew that I could comfortably forget about it in the meantime and use that mental energy for more important things in my life.

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