Improve Your Life: The #1 Thing You Need to Track
I'd like to share a simple but incredibly powerful daily tracking practice. For some people, it makes sense to do more elaborate tracking, and we've looked at more comprehensive approaches previously in the YouTube series. However, you don't have to do elaborate tracking.
This simple approach all by itself will provide huge returns if you implement it into your daily practice. This is the one thing you could track that will give you the biggest return — the 80/20 approach.
Learning from your daily activities is one of the most powerful ways you can consistently improve your life. You want to extract, learn, and figure out ways to do better incrementally each day. We talk about that 1% improvement every day — this is how you do it.
The essence of the approach is to observe, extract the insight, and then apply it — then iterate day after day after day. Very small increments have massive compounding effects over time. That's how this pays off big if you make it a regular practice.
The biggest hesitation I often hear from those interested in the Pillars, Pipelines & Vaults (PPV) system, or any comprehensive life operating system, is often the daily tracking component. I've talked about how we track things that are important for us to help our performance — such as sleep, exercise, and nutrition. We could also track aspects of work — such as sales calls, content creation, or posting consistency. These are things we can track to improve our daily performance and get better and better at specific target activities. But to some, it feels like too much.
So to simplify and monitor just one overall aspect of life, this is what I recommend as the single most powerful tracking data point…
The #1 Thing to Track to Improve Your Life
At the end of each day, rate your day 1 through 10, with 5 being normal or average. Anything above five is better than average. And below five, things didn't quite go as you had hoped or as you would like things to go.
That's it, with one small addition.
For anything above five or below five, add a note. Why was it better than average? What made it better than average? What did you do? What went well if it was better than average?
If it was below average, what went wrong? What could you have done better? What was the problem?
You don't need to write elaborate paragraphs. Keep it simple, keep it short. One or a few bullet points are fine. But really observe what went well and what went badly if you're above or below average.
And document this.
If you're using the Pillars, Pipelines & Vaults (PPV) system we've talked about in this series, you have places to put daily tracking. If you're not using PPV or are using any other system, record it in whatever platform you prefer. It can be a digital platform, it could be a notebook with pen and paper. It could be a little sticky pad that you then attach notes in series inside a folder. Just find a way to document this and track it over time.
One way or the other, observe at the end of each day what went well, what didn't go well… and why.
Why This will Improve your Life
This is effective because it will accomplish three things:
#1. Clarity & Awareness
It's going to bring clarity to the day. It's going to give you awareness. This reflection will give you understanding.
So often we're just rushing through things one after another. It's all just a big blur. You can't even remember what you did earlier in the morning. Stopping and reflecting and having awareness of whether the day progressed well, whether it was effective or not, is going to open your eyes to what's working and what's not.
It's going to reveal things that you wouldn't notice if you didn't take a moment and have this practice of deliberate observation — recognizing whether things are working or not on a day-by-day basis.
The clarity this brings you will be transformative and set you up for number two.
#2. Daily Insights
This practice gives you a daily lesson. You will take one or more insights from most of your days. Think of how valuable that will be and how it will add up over time.
If you do this rating process, you're going to have takeaways — that's what the "why" notes are for. You're going to take a daily inventory of what's working and what's not working.
Just observing what's working and what's not will bring you an understanding of which activities and practices are effective — and which aren't. You will know what needs to be tweaked. You will see what needs a complete overhaul.
If you don't regularly stop and ask yourself what's working and what's not, you're not going to learn. You're not going to improve and you're not going to have new ideas and insights to apply the next day and then the next day and then the next day.
Cumulatively these add up. Each is quite small, but in aggregate day after day after day, these steady little tweaks will be massive transformations to your life.
#3. Broader Patterns Across Life
This will then enable deeply informative weekly, monthly, and annual reflections.
By making these observations and documenting them — whether it's paper & pencil or any digital platform — you're going to have a record of what was working and what wasn't working over various time horizons.
That's going to be a treasure trove in which to look for patterns. It's the patterns in our lives that make all the difference because of their relentlessness. These patterns occur time after time after time, they have compounding effects. They're feedback loops — either positive feedback loops or negative ones. It's that relentless driven consistency over and over and over again that makes a huge impact far beyond what it looks like in the moment.
So reflecting on these and looking for the patterns will massively empower you. And it will reveal what has been resolved, and what is still problematic after initial efforts to correct the path.
If you're using a digital platform, particularly a modern one like Notion in a system like PPV, it will aggregate and reveal these patterns for you. It's built into how the system works. But even if you're not, even if you're keeping it really simple — just flip through the pages, scroll through the past documentation and look for those patterns. They will jump out at you. You're going to see the same things over and over again.
This repetition will happen even if you're not aware of it in the moment, or if you're missing it day by day. When you look at it over a broader time span, you're going to see patterns that you didn't see when you were deep in the forest, looking at just the next step, day after day. It's a bigger reflection across a wider horizon.
All three of these will add up to a cumulative compounding effect if you put this into practice.
This changed my life. When I started doing it, I learned so much about myself. This reveals your psychology and your deepest impulses. We're drawn to things without even thinking about them. Taking time at the end of the day to reflect and rank and note "why above" or "why below" is going to reveal the subconscious impulses that drive us in the micro so that we can adjust and improve the course of action in the macro throughout our lives.
Then we can reach those goals we've set for ourselves because we're not perpetually being pulled off course by little things that we're not even noticing.