Whether you’re breaking a bad habit or trying to form a good one, a little nudge in the right direction can go a long way. These free printables and ebooks promise to help you track or change habits easily.
As the year draws to a close, we often succumb to the pressure of setting resolutions. But if you’re serious about changing habits, you need the right advice and tools to get you going. You can use habit apps to reach your goals or go old-school with a pen and paper. There is just something more satisfying about the tactile feel of crossing or ticking a box.
1. Habit Print: Create a Printable Seinfeld-Like Chain
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld famously shared his productivity habit. He wrote a joke every single day and crossed it out on the calendar. The visual chain of his successful habit kept him going every day. Several people now swear by this trick.
Habit Print is a free web app to create such a visual habit tracker and print it. Just write whatever task you want to accomplish (maximum 35 characters), and the app will create a printable page for it. The page includes the seven days of the week in a grid of circles, with 10 rows of these circles.
There’s a productivity principle that if you want to form a new habit, you need to do that task for 66 days. Habit Print will take you to a chain of 70 days, ensuring you meet your goal and are better off for it.
Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, has spent a long time researching the science behind habits. He has studied people’s behavior to figure out what makes them stick to a habit or change it.
Duhigg believes the key to changing habits is the “habit loop.” Habitual behavior activates based on a cue, like a time or when you’re at a certain place. Our brain then seeks a reward, which we indulge through some destructive behavior. In the end, this forms a routine.
But if you change the reward, you’ll break the habit loop. Find a reward that is healthy, without altering the cue, and you’ll end up making a new routine that is good for you. Over time, this will become your new habit.
Duhigg has converted his theory into two easy-to-follow flowcharts while you try to form a new habit loop:
Register for the newsletter and you can download high-resolution versions of both flowcharts, which you can then print.
Habit Print is a single page to focus on a single new routine. If you want a more comprehensive habit plan with several tasks and practices, try Clementine Creative’s habit tracker.
You get 31 columns for the dates of the month, along with a space to write the day. And there are 15 rows to list all the habits you want to form. Every time you complete a habit, check, fill, or draw a pattern in that column.
You can print it in Letter, A4, or A5 size. The writer recommends using different colors for different tasks to add a little oomph to the calendar and to also make it easy to distinguish how well you’re doing on different habits.
The website also has an editable version of the habit tracker, where you can first add the different tasks and print after that. But this needs a small payment.
Like the month-long habit tracker from Clementine Creative, there are several others. Teal Notes has compiled the best of them into well-designed free downloads that you can print.
There are weekly, 10-day, 15-day, and monthly habit tracking templates, available in both vertical and horizontal formats. The vertical monthly tracker even has a color version.
The 10-day and 15-day trackers stand out because of their columns for notes. The 15-day version even looks different, presented like a hand-fan. The first day is the smallest to fill, but as your streak continues, you get to fill larger boxes, making you reflect longer about your accomplishments.
5. Hipster Habit App: Printable Mini-Book to Fold Into Your Wallet
The best habit app is not an app at all. In fact, it’s a little guide that sits in your pocket. Download the Hipster Habit App PDF and print it out. Then fold it as shown in the instructions and stick it in your wallet.
Follow the instructions of the Hipster Habit App page by page. This habit-changing guide follows all the basics that will set you up for actually making a lasting change. It encourages you to figure out the purpose, breaks the task into easy steps day-by-day, and gives you things to do through your journey.
The Hipster Habit App also includes habit streak calendars, and even a little bit of gamification to encourage you to achieve new titles. All you need is a pen to fill the blanks. It’s super cool and will be a talking point wherever you go.
6. All About Habits: Crash Course in Habit Science
Mark Manson, the author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, wanted to understand the science behind habits, and different studies conducted about it. After much research, he compiled all the data into an easy-to-understand article, also available as a 21-page ebook. The ebook is worth it for this longread.
Manson’s focus is on willpower since that seems to be what drives whether you can successfully change a habit or not. From the famous marshmallow test to real-life examples of people, the ebook traces different data about how we undertake habit-changing behavior.
If you are serious about forming a new habit, it’s important to understand how your mind and body will react to behavioral changes. The more you know, the easier it is to set plans to tackle pitfalls. Habit change isn’t overnight, as the ebook will tell you. But you can change your life in small steps.
Try Micro-Challenges for Habit Changes
With these downloads and printables, you’ll have an easier time in effecting meaningful change in your life. But we all know it won’t happen overnight. A neat trick is to try mini-challenge apps for life-altering habits. A lot of people are having some success this way.