First a confession: I let things slip. I look down at some work, then look up and months have passed. Buried in my routine, I've lost contact with some friends, stopped good habits and neglected chores.

This post is about my attempt to turn this around with an experiment of mine, the Habit Clock.

Capturing time

The Habit Clock is a fancy way of noticing time pass. You tell it what to track, and it counts down the days that have passed since you last reset it. The things you track are organized into dashboards, so that you can group like things together.

I feel like many worthwhile things in life are won or lost over a long period of time. Nobody can be a good friend, a good parent, a healthy human or the master of a skill overnight. This tool is a different angle on having good habits, on living a good life.

Things to track

When might we care about time passing?


I've used the Habit Clock to track relationships, by having a "People" board. On it, I list the warmest and strongest relationships I have, the people I most care about. Each day, I reset the timer for anyone I had meaningful time with that day.

For some relationships, this makes no difference. I see those people like clockwork, and never have to make room for them. For others, I need the reminder. Even if they don't mind long periods without contact, I want to be a more regular part of their lives.


I keep a "Chores" board for things that need to be done, but not every day. Some types of cleaning, flea-treating the pets, weeding the garden, these are all things that I help guilt myself into doing more often when I can see how long they've lapsed.


For me, habits that aren't part of a daily or weekly ritual are slippery, and don't seem to stick. It's because they need some extra effort to remember and make happen. I now outsource them to a Habit board, and seeing it regularly forms a natural prompt encouraging me to do them.


Like any system, this one hasn't quite solved all my problems. Ironically, I forget to update it sometimes. It also shows me things that I don't yet care about. If I don't need to worm the cats for two more months, should I have to look at the timer every day until then?

Even in its current form, despite these flaws, it's the best system I've used for this so far.

If you have a system you use to track habits, especially contact with people, I'd love to hear about it. Shoot me an email.