This is the tenth entry in a series on my Notion architecture for various life management systems. To see the full series, please visit the home page, Productivity In Notion .
I wrote before about my daily tracking process in Notion that I setup in mid-2020. That provides some helpful context before I go into how I improved the system for 2021, so check that out: Daily Tracking in Notion.
With that said, my 2021 system for daily tracking not surprisingly focuses on a Daily Database that has one entry for each day. What I did do for 2021 is to setup each day's entry in advance, so my database already features 365 days for the year, with each day having a link to both a week in my Weekly Database and a month in my Monthly Database. This, as we'll get into, is primarily so that I can get weekly and monthly measures of how I'm doing so that I can hold myself accountable.
Here is what a (successful) day looks like in the database view:
Beyond what can be seen here, a few other things in other databases are linked to a day: workouts, journal entries, etc, but these are not essential for this purpose.
A few callouts here:
- The main view that I use for this filters to just a week before today and a week after today, so that I can review/fill in any missing data in the past, and also use the Day Plan column to see what I have coming up.
- Habits, as I covered in the Daily Tracker piece linked above, I use a tag-based system and as we'll get into, basically look at how many "habits" I've done each week or each month. This doesn't necessarily build habits in a "do it every day" sense, but I use it more as a "these are things that are healthy and I want to do more of them" approach. That has left some out to dry (ie meditating), but I could setup a system to prioritize a particular one at any time if I see a need to do so.
- Actions Done - these are things that I am trying to do either weekly or monthly. They are tag-based here but separated from habits to avoid clutter as they are less commonly done. Unlike the count-based approach to habits, I do have if statements at the weekly and monthly level that check if specific actions have been done.
- Day Score - I covered this as well, but it is basically an approach popularized by Jim Collins to rate each day from -2 to +2 in your daily journal. Longer term, there is some cool analysis that could be done to see what makes a +2 day or a -2 day.
- Wated Time, Productive Time, iOS Screentime, and Step Count - these are all metrics I'm focusing on in 2021. So while it is a bit overkill to transcribe these each day from RescueTime and my iPhone, it will something that should be able to be automated away once the Notion API comes out in a few months. That said, it takes less than a minute to do this, and given how many minutes I waste on unproductive things on my phone and computer, that minute should pay back fairly quickly if it helps me improve my productive to unproductive ratio!
That said, let's take a look at what my Weekly Database looks like:
So what is going on here? What I excluded are a whole bunch (about 15 rollup columns) that aggregate the daily database. For example, one rollup checks the "Actions Done" field and sees if I have evaluated a stock in that week. Another sums up the number of habits I completed, etc.
But as you may be able to guess, the "Week Perf" formula basically sets a goal for each of these metrics, and checks to see if I've evaluated at least one stock and completed at least 21 habits, etc. This is then represented visually by the ✅ and ❌s next to it.
Here is what that formula looks like, which thus shares my goals for each week:
I haven't covered each of these, but you can probably get the idea, and I'd expect everyone to have different (probably fewer) things to focus on each week. But for me, I'm kind of laying down the marker that this is what would make a successful week for me in 2021.
To call out a couple that may not be obvious:
- WJSum = whether I've completed a 'work journal' entry for the week noting what I did for the week and checking that I did certain weekly tasks that I need to do there to stay on top of things.
- ExperimentSum = whether I completed a weekly "experiment". I haven't written about these yet, but I am trying (unsuccessfully to this point) to try changes to my daily routine one week at a time. E.g. one I did for a week in 2020 was to go on a morning/midday walk each day. Naturally I have an "Experiment Database" that tracks all my ideas for this.
- BlogsSum = total blogs posted in a week, which I just realized is in here twice, so I'll need to fix that!
- RunDist and RunClimb = these aggregate from my Fitness Database, but reflect my goal to run 27 miles per week and hit 1,000 feet of vertical gain each week (which is a bit tricky in the flat plains of Dallas).
Lastly, we have the Monthly Database, which I have also covered before: Monthly Metrics. I won't share another screenshot as it again looks quite similar to the weekly setup (although I haven't finished laying out the goals yet). But by the end of January I will add similar calculations to check some of these same weekly metrics but at a monthly level, as well as some other things that I want to do each month (and thus aren't checked each week).
I know to some people this may seem like overkill. And that's fine - you should have a system that works for you! To me, seeing these weekly metrics is helpful to ensuring that I do the healthy things. It is easier and cheaper to eat a cheeseburger from McDonalds than it is to eat a well-cooked healthy balanced meal with plenty of protein and veggies.
Similarly, it is easier to sit around play games, scroll through the phone, and watch YouTube or Netflix than it is to actually sit down and do productive and generative work. These daily and weekly tables give me at least one carrot to incentivize myself with and have a fighting chance against the field of carrots that social media and digital entertainment have at their disposal.