100 Days to Offload, Day 9 – Using a calendar for habit-tracking

For the ninth day of the 100 Days to Offload blogging challenge, I'd like to talk about how I found a good digital habit tracker... in my calendar.

It may take you 3 minutes to read this post.

I've been looking for an open-source, cross-platform, offline-capable habit tracker app for a while now, but so far, I haven't found a satisfactory one. Habitica's Android app can't save changes offline, and Loop Habit Tracker doesn't even have a desktop equivalent.

My need for a habit tracker got more desperate when I started the 100 Days to Offload challenge, since I wanted to track my progress and not break the chain [1]. For the time being, I was using Loop Habit Tracker, but I kept thinking about how my data was tied to that specific app, and I didn't want that.

Then last night, out of the blue, I remembered reading this article where it proposed Google Calendar as a personal journal, of sorts. A refresher and a few clicks later, I found another article which, lo and behold, suggested using Google Calendar for “Don't Break the Chain,” among other uses.

I don't use Google Calendar, but I do use Nextcloud Calendar. Thus, I decided to use it to track my blogging streak:

  1. Create a new calendar in Nextcloud Calendar. This is preferable to using my current one, which contains important appointments and events, because it's better in the long run to not clog up that calendar. I named my new calendar “Records,” since it'll be solely for logging the activities and routines that I accomplish.

  2. Create a new event for the habit or routine to track. If desired, add a description, or some categories. The event is non-recurring, to account for gap days, and scheduled all-day, since time-blocking isn't needed for, as an example, my blogging, and it's much faster to set it to “all-day.”

  3. Every day, check the calendar, and create a new event for the day for each habit or routine accomplished.

What I like about this setup is that I can easily sync my calendar between devices through the CalDAV protocol, and view them with calendar clients. On desktop, I use Thunderbird with the TbSync and Provider for CalDAV & CardDAV extensions; on mobile, I use Etar alongside DAVx⁵. In Firefox, I can also log my progress with the Nextcloud Calendar web interface. Thus, my data isn't stuck on a single device, and can be easily exported and imported with a standard format.

As a bonus, if I want to in the future, I can use my calendar to track health-related events and information as well. I suppose I can also use my calendar as a personal journal, like I mentioned earlier, but I think I'll stick to using a plain-text file for that, since it's better for long-form reflection.

I have to admit, adding events to my calendar isn't as fast or easy as ticking off check-boxes, like in Habitica or Loop Habit Tracker. However, making up for it is the ability to add useful information in event descriptions, such as links to my blog posts for each day.

I think I'll stick with this setup for a while, and see if it fits into my workflow. So far, it's nice to see a row of “#100DaysToOffload” in my calendar, especially when I know I'll see it on all my devices.


[1] Funnily enough, I found an article which led me to this Reddit AMA thread, where Jerry Seinfield, comic writer and the alleged creator of “Don't Break the Chain,” said:

This is hilarious to me, that somehow I am getting credit for making an X on a calendar with the Seinfeld productivity program. It's the dumbest non-idea that was not mine, but somehow I'm getting credit for it.

So, he didn't really create “Don't Break the Chain.” Where the original article that “revealed” this secret got its quotes, then, is anyone's guess.


This work by Daryl Sun is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

#100DaysToOffload #calendar #habit #Nextcloud #Thunderbird #DAVx5