reaching goals through actions

What I Learned from a Month of Tracking Everything

Erik Personal Development and Lifestyle, Thoughts of a Mastermind 8 Comments

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN PAID AND/OR AFFILIATE LINKS.

During the month of November 2018, I set a goal to track everything. I decided it was time to get under a microscope and take a deep and hard look at my habits.

I decided to track my drinking, eating, waste, exercise, spending, sleep and work, and ended up tracking everything for 30 straight days.

I’m on this weird pursuit of trying to become a little better each day. Each day and week, I’m constantly tinkering, experimenting, and pushing to see where my comfort zone is, where my comfort zone ends, and how I can become better. Some days I feel confident, and other days I have no idea what I’m doing (I’ll be honest, most days I have no idea what I’m doing).

In November, to understand more about what habits I was practicing, I decided that I was going to take COMPLETE OWNERSHIP of my actions and track everything.

I wanted to see exactly what I was doing with my life, and with this information, I can make adjustments for the better.

Now, it’s December, and I have the opportunity to look back and draw some conclusions from my tracking experience.

In this post, I will be sharing with you my thoughts and takeaways from tracking everything during the month of November.

What Gets Measured, Actually Gets Managed!

One of my life mantras and guiding principles is “What gets measured, gets managed”.

When I’ve tracked in the past, I see the most results.

One of the areas I’ve seen the biggest impact as a result of my tracking efforts has been my personal finances. Through tracking my expenses, I’ve realized there are certain weeks or months where I spend too much on food, or went over board on Amazon purchases.There were even a few times when I realized I would need to do a no spend weekend or two to make the next credit card payment.

At the end of the day, I came away being able to pay off my card, and it was all because of my consistent tracking habits.

During the month of November though, I was tracking everything. As I mentioned above, I tracked my drinking, spending, eating, work, waste, exercise and sleep.

Out of this tracking, 3 main things stuck out to me:

  • My spending was much lower than usual
  • The amount of waste I accumulated was much less
  • I was consistent with my workouts and my level of fitness rose considerably

Below I touch on these three points in more depth.

The overarching main point in all of this is how much more in-tune you are with your actions when you start to track. Instead of just blindly getting a coffee at Caribou or an extra snack at the grocery store, when you track everything you realize just how much everything adds up.

My Waste is Much Less

Here was my waste for the month of November:

A few things that I want to call out here: paper towels, plastic bowls and spoons from fast causal places, compost, and Amazon packaging.

First, let’s talk about paper towels.

At work, I had gotten into a habit of using 2 paper towels each time I washed my hands after using the bathroom. I drink a lot of water and liquids at work, and probably went to the restroom a minimum of 5 times a day.

This means I was using 10 paper towels a day, or 2520 paper towels a year (just at work!).

I’ve stopped doing this and now air dry my hands at work.

Second, let’s talk plastic disposables at fast causal restaurants.

I love going to D’Brian’s, which is a healthy salad and sandwich shop in Minneapolis. The salads are great, but come in a plastic bowl:

d'brian's salad

After realizing how much waste this was, I started bringing my own lunch. I could control what I was eating and my waste more effectively then (also, this saved money!):

This helped cut down on some waste as well.

At home, two things I did was buy some wash clothes and hand towels for the kitchen, but these came with packaging. I order a few things from Amazon each month and there’s a ton of extra waste that comes in those packages. I guess I need to buy more local to eliminate that trash.

Finally, next summer, I’m planning to make a compost pile in my backyard, and also start growing some food. This should help with the waste of banana peels, apple cores, and other compostable foods. 🙂

I Only Spent $212 on Food in November!

After realizing how much waste I was accumulating through eating out, I decided to start being more conscientious about my food intake.

One of my bad habits is how I don’t bring my lunch to work anymore. I used to bring my lunch every day back during high school. Once I started working at my corporate job, I stuck with it for a little while, but ended up caving and stopped bringing it for at least 2 years.

This choice costs me about $250 a month, which is quite a lot when you think about it.

Combining my thoughts on waste, my thoughts on my health, and a desire to learn more in the kitchen, I started making more food at home, and bringing my lunch to work.

Just by buying more in bulk and reducing the number of times I ate out, I only ended up spending $212 on food in November!

Seeing this, I’m motivated to keep this lower spending going. Food by itself doesn’t really bring me that much joy, so why am I spending $5 a day more just for the convenience of not having to cook at home?

It doesn’t add up, and if I want to grow my wealth, then I need to continue to make good decisions.

Going forward, I’m going to be looking to learn more about meal prep, bulk cooking, and try to keep my food expense under $250. It will be an interesting experiment!

My Level of Fitness is Much Higher

In November, I started doing body weight exercises every other day, and complimented this with yoga at least twice a week.

After 14 workouts, I’m comfortably doing 25 push-ups a set, and in December, I’ve been doing 100 squats a day (2 sets of 50) with my co-workers in a sort of 100 squats a day for 31 days challenge.

From my clean eating and consistent exercise, I feel great and also have noticed my waist line shrink.

My breathing and wind has been much better from yoga (try to breathe in for as long as you can, pause and hold your breath, and then try to breath out for as long as you can – supposedly the breathing in and out process should take 15 seconds each direction…, I’m able to get about 10 seconds both ways).

Becoming better at ANYTHING can happen through consistency.

I’m working out for 20 minutes in my bedroom 3-4 times a week. I do 3 sets of push-ups, rows, and squats. I started slow, doing 10 per set, and now am up to 25 a set.

Do you want to become better athletically? Start slow, stay consistent, listen to your body, and grow. I know you can do it 🙂

Start Tracking, Be Consistent and See Results

Over the past month, I really didn’t do anything special. I tracked my habits and actions across a few different areas of my life, and made changes to move towards a better life.

I don’t think there was anything that you couldn’t implement or do to make your life better today, tomorrow or in the future.

Tracking everything requires focus and consistency, and a willingness to drop your ego and make changes for the better.

For me, it always goes back to the questions of “what makes me happiest, what are my goals and what am I doing today, this week and this month to work towards what makes me happy?”

I hope that this month of tracking has inspired you to track things which you want to improve on.

Here are all of the weekly posts on tracking which have more details into my thoughts during the month:

Readers: do you track things in your life? What’s an area of life that you could improve upon that tracking might help with?

Thank you for reading!

Erik

What-I-Learned-From-A-Month-of-Tracking-Everything

Become a MASTERMIND

Mastermind

Sign up for our mailing list and receive instant access to all the Mastermind Within freebies (tools, spreadsheets, and an eBook), and exclusive content.

Your future self will thank you.

We protect your data. We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. By submiting your information here, you give consent to ongoing communications. Powered by ConvertKit
Share this awesome post:

Comments 8

  1. Wow, Erik, $212 for one full month is almost unheard of nowadays considering that it includes dining out. That’s only an average of $7/day. Awesome! Eating healthier and saving money at the same time.

    1. Post
      Author

      Thanks for the comment Bernz JP!! Yes, it was a great month. I’d add here that some of it was me emptying some of the pantry and using the food from previous months, but it’s crazy how cheap salad, rice and buying proteins in bulk is!

      For example, I made a meal with salmon, rice and green beans. All in, this probably cost about $3, and was really good! Do this 2 times a day and you have your $6 a day 🙂

  2. Pingback: The 7 Personal Finance Articles We Loved This Week

  3. Pingback: Sunday Sharing Vol: 19 - Life For The Better

  4. Pingback: Zero Waste: A Month of Tracking My Trash (Guest Post from The Mastermind Within) - Tread Lightly, Retire Early

  5. I had a lot of the same habits you describe here. I started with a Garmin watch to help track fitness activities. From there I went to spending cash. I went from being a little over weight to a healthy body weight and reduced my spending by about 80% while increasing my satisfaction on what I spent money on. Meanwhile I learnt about FI and pulled the trigger some two years ago. Life is good since I started tracking things consciously.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hey Financial Gladiator! Thanks for stopping by. Wow! 80%?? That’s incredible! Congrats on doing some great work on the financial front and living intentionally!!!

  6. Pingback: Reach Your Financial Goals Faster by Tracking Everything ⋆ Camp FIRE Finance

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.