Streaks: my secret weapon in building habits

As I mentioned last week, I’m working this year on building some new habits and maintaining others. We’re past the halfway mark of January, and so far I’m keeping up with it. This week, I wanted to share one tool that I rely on more than any other to make habits stick, my secret weapon to a better me: Streaks.

Streaks up front on my home screen. More on my screen layout another time.

At its core, Streaks is essentially a to do list for habits. It can track up to six habits on one screen, and allows up to two screens for a maximum of 12 habits to be tracked. Personally, I find this limitation to be a good thing. I’ve been using Streaks for a couple years now, and as habits become cemented in my daily routines, I remove them from Streaks to make room for something new. For me, I’ve found that I can’t really do all the things I want at once, so limiting myself to no more than six new habits at a time increases the likelihood that I’ll actually stick to them. That’s just me, but I’m guessing it applies to a lot of other people as well.

As for the habits themselves, Streaks can track whatever you want. And they provide a great selection of preloaded habits if you don’t know where to start. With Apple Health integration, tracking things like exercise or mindful minutes happen almost magically. If I go for a run using Runkeeper, Streaks catches it and adds the progress towards my exercise habit goal. If I do a 10 minute meditation in Headspace, Streaks applies that towards my mindful minutes goal. It’s a simple thing, but it’s one less friction point in building a new habit, and that’s a huge plus for me.

“Finally I’ll stop picking my nose. Kidding…mostly…stop judging me!”

Streaks isn’t limited to just building new habits, either. It’s also capable of helping you eliminate bad habits as well. Just select the thing you want to stop doing, and be honest every time you give in. It can even handle tasks that need to be repeated multiple times a day. Streaks is flexible enough to work in whatever way you need to help build and maintain any habit.

The best way to see what Streaks can do is to just dive in, so let me show you how I’m using it right now. I’m currently tracking six habits in Streaks. I have trackers for daily reading, idea generation writing on Monday through Friday, exercising five days a week, taking my one-a-day vitamin, daily flossing, and daily meditation. Here’s what that looks like:

With a quick glance, I can see what goals I’ve completed, what progress I’ve made in finishing others, and which are still left to get done. For example, here I see that I’m looking pretty good. I’m a bedtime reader, so I know that 30 minutes of reading will get knocked out when I go to bed. And the flossing will be done right before then. I still have four minutes of exercise left to meet my daily goal, but I’m not worried about that because I’ll be doing a seven minute workout with the Seven app as soon as this is posted. And the last task of mindful minutes will be done with a 10-minute meditation in Headspace before calling it a night. And that will be another successful day in the books.

The possibilities within Streaks are broad and varied. I’ve found this to be one of the first apps I open in the morning and one of the last I check at the end of the day. The habits I’ve built in the past and those I’m building or maintaining now would have been significantly more difficult to accomplish without something like Streaks. If you find yourself looking for a tool to assist you in building your own good habits, or breaking bad ones, then this may be the solution for you.

And that’s all for this week. The rain finally stopped here and it’s looking to be good beach weather for the weekend. Next week I’ll start diving into the new practices I’m tackling this year. In the meantime, my best to you all, and to all a good week!

  • Ryan