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4 Things to Track in 2018 for Major Clarity, Awareness & Foresight | Fire Up Your App Store

4 Things to Track in 2018 for Major Clarity, Awareness & Foresight | Fire Up Your App Store

Welcome to another shiny new year friend.

Is it shiny cause it’s new…or cause you’re still a little glassy-eyed from all the booze and “sometimes” food you’ve been consuming “always”.

Doesn’t matter. I’m here to kick your (bad)ass back into gear.

2018 is the year to get your shit together and nail some pretty important areas of yo’ life and today we’re talking about 3 or 4 of the most important ones.

But, nailing said areas requires knowing where one really stands.

So, while your first instinct come new year is usually to get all fired up and take ACTION ACTION ACTION and start to do the things…just hold the lycra hot-stuff.

Because, jumping into doing is not step 1 fool.

You cannot assess your progress or know if all your effort is moving you in a positive direction, if you haven’t first benchmarked where you’re at NOW and put tracking measures in place.

Lucky for us this is an age of incredible Smart Apps, most of them free, which make keeping tabs on ourselves real easy… #SelfImposedBigBrutha.

You can track almost anything, but here are my top 3 with a bonus one for the ladies.

#1 MONEY

So, you wanna become rich ass mutha? Well it’s probably time to get real with how much you’re spending.

I know this is scary, but sometimes the shock is the wake up call you need to get your act together. #RingtheAlarm. Because when you see how much $$ you are actually forking out on things like clothes, shoes, makeup and avo toast, you may think twice about your next purchase and actually put some guidelines in place as to what your limits are.

Yes, you can look over your monthly statement to get the big picture on what’s coming in and what’s going out, but this won’t tell you at a glance, how much you’re spending on key categories. Once you have a ballpark figure of you’re average spend across the main categories you can start to create a realistic and strategic budget for yourself each year.

I know, “budget” is like the most unfun word ever, but I’m telling you this cause I don’t ever wanna see you like this:

So let’s continue.

How to Setup Your Money Tracker:

STEP 1: Go here and download the spending tracker app Money Lover. This is the app I personally use and recommend to get started with because it be intuitive and free.

STEP 2: Set up all your main spending categories. You want to create these around the key areas of your spending month to month, drilled down to the degree that you can clearly see the breakdown of your spending across the specific areas that you want to keep tabs on. Categories/subcategories will vary from person to person because we all spend money on different things depending on our interests, hobbies and lifestyle (surfers, musicians, yogis, etc).

For example, maybe your a big spender on fashion and you want to be able to see how much you spend on shoes vs clothes vs accessories, etc. In Money Lover you can set up “parent” and sub-categories for this purpose. While, someone else might just lump all this together into one category. Personally, I like to keep it pretty simple with all my categories at one level. It’s your call how detailed you go (just remember getting too specific can get tedious when it comes to record keeping)! If you’re looking for quick example or guide to reference, my expense categories look something like this:

  1. Groceries (I’ve lumped all my expenses on day-to-day items like fresh market produce, pantry items, cleaning products and bathroom essentials – e.g. toilet paper – here for ease. I previously tired to track things more granular here but worked out it’s much easier to batch this together because supermarket receipts often contain a mix of these items and I don’t really need to know the breakdown).
  2. Food & Drink (this is only the $$ I spend on food, drinks, alcoholic beverages when eating out …and pretty much my default category, *sigh #SorryNotSorry)
  3. Alcohol (I buy boxes of wine and the odd spirit (usually duty-free) and prefer to separate this from everyday groceries)
  4. Entertainment (dance classes, club entry fees, movie tickets, events, etc)
  5. Fashion (clothes, shows, bags, accessories, jewellery all get logged here)
  6. Rent (no mortgage for me just yet)
  7. Bills (electric, gas, water)
  8. Phone (mobile monthly fee / data)
  9. Online Subscriptions (Netflix, Canva, Dropbox, online tools)
  10. Technology / Electronics (things like new speakers, headphones, kitchen appliances, gadgets)
  11. Transport / Car (rego, petrol, car service, public transport, taxis, Ubers, private jet fuel – jks)
  12. Homeware (now that I’m a proper adult I spend money on things like vases, pillows, towels, plants and other sexy things for mah pad.)
  13. Personal Development (this is for things I buy for my personal growth like a meditation course).
  14. Professional Development (I’m a big believer in investing in yourself! Every year I buy a range of online courses, programs, eBooks, etc to upskill, train and level up).
  15. Health & Wellness (health insurance, chiro, doctor appointments, dentist, yoga, fitness classes, blood tests, natropath, infrared saunas, massages, essential oils etc)
  16. Holiday / Travel (flights, accommodation, transportation, tickets, spending money, etc. When I’m on holiday I track all spending here including what I’d usually put under food & drink, entertainment and other categories so I get a full picture of what I spent on a specific trip or getaway as a whole).
  17. Books / Mags (I read a lot so this is where I log my kindle and book purchases)
  18. Donations / Charity (self-explanatory)
  19. Fees / Fines (when I’ve been a bad girl)
  20. Gifts (birthdays, weddings, baby showers, Christmas, etc)
  21. Supplements (I prob go a bit crazy here – maca, cacao, collagen, acai, green powers, superfood powers, gelatin, magnesium, protein powder, MCT oil, probiotics – basically all the fun extra shit that I cold lump with groceries if I was lazy, but want to track separately.
  22. Work Expenses (when work makes me spend money on things like a police clearance or RSA grrrr)
  23. Misc (cause sometimes you’ll have some outliers that just don’t fit into a category)

Best Money Tracker App - Money Lover.png

STEP 3: Setup you income categories. This list will usually be a lot shorter unless you’ve got multiple sources of income you’re tracking (go you). But generally it will look something like:

  1. Salary
  2. Freelance Projects / Consulting
  3. Reimbursements
  4. Return / Refund
  5. Selling Stuff
  6. Tax Return
  7. Cash Gift
  8. Bank Interest

STEP 3: Every time you make a purchase (online, at a cafe, at the store) make a habit of recording the receipt total in your app to keep tabs on your spending. As a result, you’ll find you naturally become more mindful or what you spend day-to-day.

STEP 4: Monitor your outflow over the month. At the top of the app you’ll see total outflow and inflow for a quick snapshot of whether you are in the red. You can also “view full report” to see the percentage breakdown of what you’re spending across categories.

STEP 5: At the end of the month book a financial date with yourself (set yourself a monthly recurring calendar event as a reminder) to go over your online statement to record any online payments you missed and also input all your income (salary, bank interest, etc). You could also book this quarterly if you prefer to batch it together. Essentially you want to keep your app record as accurate and up-to-date as possible. But don’t get too crazy if you miss a few bits and pieces here and there. The goal is about 90% accuracy.

STEP 6: At the end of a full year cycle, export all your data to review total spending across each category. This will give you a realistic picture of your spending habits and you can start to see where work needs to be done. Perhaps you have a slight cardiac arrest when you see how much you spent on clothes this year (not talking about me or anything) and it inspires a 3 month fashion shopping ban or thrifting challenge where you only buy things from op-shops or secondhand. Or maybe you try Dry July after seeing your alcohol expenditure. Maybe you don’t do anything drastic, but simply pull back you budget to be 10% less than you actual spend this year for a subtle saving strategy. The idea is really to get a realistic picture of your spending so you can make informed decisions and adjustments to your budget each year.

Do you need to record a whole year of spending before you set your budget? Definitely not! 3 months will give you a pretty good average across you main categories that you can base budget limits on. But…if you want to have a year’s worth of data for your next annual review this time next year, start now!

That’s the tough one out the way…onto no. 2.

#2 SLEEP

Have you noticed that sleep is haven’t its moment? Books like Thrive, The Sleep Revolution, and Sleep Smarter are changing the conversation around sleep and bringing to light why it’s so critical to get enough of it. The axiom “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” just doesn’t ring true anymore…  Firstly, who wants to sleep when their dead?…I’ll be floating around in the higher dimension cradling a whisky with the likes of Oscar Wilde & co. Secondly, you can’t make the hours that you are awake count for something if you’re depleted and exhausted.

We all know sleep is how your body repairs, restores and replenishes itself. From fighting disease and stress to healing your insides, it’s the most underated “health hack” to boosting your mental and physical performance, regulating your hunger hormones (and therefore weight control), and promoting deep healing that leads to a more attractive you (cause of the beautifying and anti-aging benefits).

Bottom line, if you’re not getting adequate ZZZs all areas of your life will suffer including looks, mood, energy, sex life, work performance, fitness, and weight. In other words, you become somewhat of a moody, frigid, chubby, unproductive bitch. Which is no good to anyone….

Now, the steps to take to get better, sweeter sleep warrants a whole other post (coming soon), but for now, you’re only job is to begin to monitor your sleeping behaviour in order to steadily improve your sleep by waking up the the ideal time.

Here’s a very quick lowdown of how it works:

  1. Your sleep can be broken down into ~90 minute sleep cycles that repeat about 4-6 times per night. 4 = 6hrs, 5=7.5hrs, 6=9hrs.
  2. Each sleep cycle ranges in different states from light sleep (Non-REM) to deep sleep (REM), when different functions are performed. Each play their part and you want to complete a full cycle uninterrupted, because breaking your cycle, particularly during a deep state, is what cause you to wake up groggy vs refreshed and alert.
  3. Sleep apps like Sleep Cycle monitor your sleep patterns and sense when you are at you lightest sleep state towards the end of your sleep period (this is when it will trigger the alarm)
  4. How does Sleep Cycle know when your in a light sleep state? You body makes different movements during your different sleep states, which is picked up by your phone accelerometer, telling Sleep Cycle how your tracking.
  5. So, you set a “time window” of when you need to wake up by (e.g. between 6-6:30am) and Sleep Cycle will optimise for the alarm to go off based on when you’re at the end of your last sleep cycle.
  6. This is unlike conventional alarms that go off at a set time, leaving the point at which it wakes you up during your sleep cycle to chance.

The app is free to download and start using, but if you want access to the additional features like tracking your wake up mood, sleep notes/observations, etc that allow you to notice patterns you need to upgrade to paid which is $39 US / year. Is less than $50 a year worth improving a whole year of sleep by even 20%? That’s something ponder…I’ll let you sleep on it (ho ho ho) …just make sure you track the expense in Money Lover ;).

#3 TIME

Many of us have side gigs or personal projects that we’re working on outside our 9-5. Or maybe you don’t have a 9-5 and you manage your own time. Either way, knowing where your time is going will open your eyes to how long things really take and help you better predict time allocation to similar projects and tasks.

For instance, maybe you’re starting a podcast and want to track how much time your spending on getting it setup and  running it week to week. Or, maybe you’d like to track how much time you’re volunteering per week or how much time you’re spending on client project work.

Whatever the case may be, tracking your time expenditure has a lot of benefits:

  1. Assists you to assess RIO
  2. Helps you predict ETAs and time to complete future similar tasks and projects more accurately
  3. See total time you are spending across different areas of your business and life – is it the best use of your time? Is it something you can delegate or outsource?
  4. See the breakdown of your time across different projects, clients and tasks each week to identify the time-suckers
  5. etc

To begin time tracking download the free tool Toggl

As with Money Lover, you need to setup your project categories and tags. If you’re a freelancer or business owner, you can also add your clients. Each time you work on something log it in Toggl by entering the details and clicking the start button. Then press stop when you’re done. It’s that easy! Toggl keeps track off all these inputs and has a cool reporting feature that allows you to analyse where your time is going so you can be more strategic in future and take course corrections.

I’ve been using Toggl:

  1. At work to track time spent across all projects, tasks, and business units
  2. To track my time across freelance and consulting projects outside work
  3. To track and monitor how much time I’m putting into side projects (e.g. like The Wellness Flirt)

Your time is your most important assets y’all. Seeing things clearly will help you assess what you wanna drop and what’s worth the effort.

#4 FLO (vajayjays only)

Fellas you can sit this one out….

Justin Timberlake, Senorita, Justified

Ladies, “Good Morning” (as JT would say #Senorita).

Okay so so I cannot stress this enough, you must know your flo!

Why is it so important?

Think of your cycle as your personal temple whisperer i.e. when it comes to your body and hormones it let’s you know what’s up. Growing up, most girls are not taught the power of their period and the female cycle. It’s something you’re told to “manage” and endure (which is a whole other post), but having a cycle is actually one of the most sacred and magical parts of being a woman ✨✨✨.

I strongly recommend all women read WomanCode: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive, and Become a Power Source by Alisa Vitti for a basic understanding of the main phases of your cycle and how this affects your mood, energy levels and feels.

Once you know what to expect and what’s happening with your body at an endocrine level, you can support and get the most out of it throughout the month. I will do a summary post on this in future, but for now…here’s the essentials to know about your cycle:

Phase 1: Follicular | 7-10 days

  • Before you ovulate, after your period
  • Characterised by creativity and new beginnings
  • Physical energy increases
  • Work on mentally challenging assignments
  • Go out and be social

Phase 2: Ovulatory | 3-4 days

  • When you’re ovulating (chance to get preggers)
  • Heightened communication skills
  • Time to connect with others an have important conversations
  • Peak physical energy – do high-impact workouts

Phase 3: Luteal | 10-14 days

  • Before your period
  • Physical energy declines and premenstrual symptoms crop up
  • Desire to nest and turn inward
  • Use this time to organise, batch errands and cleaning, cook, reconcile banking (eg money date time)
  • Scale back on the high intensity workouts and lean towards lower resistance exercise

Phase 4: Menstrual | 3-7 days

  • Flo comes to town
  • Time for self-analysis
  • Elevated intuition and gut messages
  • Time to reflect and journal to assess what areas of your life need attention
  • Focus on rest and recovery vs pushing physical activity

Tracking your cycle is also a natural contraceptive method, and particularly useful for ladies who don’t want to be on the pill (another thing I recommend after reading Woman Code and other books on health/hormones). Combine with other contraceptive methods like condoms, and keep a close eye on your fertile days (ovulation) to know when to be extra careful and when chance of pregnancy is super low (e.g. just after your period). Of course, do your own research and settle on what feels right for your body and circumstances.

Period Tracker App - Flo

How to get started with tracking your period:

  1. Download Flo, or similar period tracker app like Period Tracker, Clue, Natural Cycles, The Daisy, Kindara or M Cycles.
  2. Start logging your period days each month and symptoms (sore boobs, lower back pain, irritability, low energy, high energy, discharge, breakouts etc)
  3. That’s pretty much it. The app does a lot of the hard work for you, letting you know when your period is coming up and what days you are expected to ovulate so you know the days you have a high chance of getting pregnant. The more you use it the more accurate it gets at predicting your next period and various points in your cycle. What’s more you’ll start to notice patterns in your body at different points in your cycle like when you have oodles of energy and common pre-menstral symptoms.

Knowing you cycle is is being intimately attuned to your body and embracing your womanly powers, so get on board sista!

Okay, you made it!

Put these tracking measures in place and you’re well on your way to mastering some core areas of your life.

🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌

Will you be using any of these this year or are their other tracking apps you recommend?

Let me know in the comments!