How I Implement Effective Trackers

Making sense of data to implement useful habits

I previously talked about creating a Knowledge Management System or a KMS which is about creating a system that manages all of the knowledge we consume every day in an orderly way.

Trackers are one part of the Reference section of the KMS. It holds the info that you need to monitor at any time. Anything that you want to change, you should first measure. Trackers help you in this regard.

I use trackers in my KMS to manage my expenses, food, medicine intake, and weight loss. At work, I use trackers to manage issues and other needed info, and it is an integral part of my workspace.

General Rules for Trackers

A tracker should prioritize function over form. It should be enough if it follows its purpose of tracking data and keeping relevant data at hand for easy review. I’ve seen so many try to create dashboards that are all fluff and aren’t practical at all.

Trackers may be useful, but sometimes I feel that I overdo it. There was a point where I had a tracker for each part of my life I wanted to measure, and that made maintaining all of these trackers unwieldy as I spent so much time and attention making sure they were updated. Focus on trackers to create a habit, and then once that habit is established, see if you can make do with a simpler one, or remove it altogether.

Don’t sweat it if you don’t get each entry complete. I used to get stressed when I missed things. The important thing is to get the data’s trend (not the completeness) so that you’ll make better decisions moving forward.

Forms of Trackers

I’ve tried implementing different types of trackers digital and handwritten. However, digital is more easily kept as you can keep storing info, unlike a notebook which is limited to its max pages.

The easiest way to track info is to use a table. Lists are not good for these types of data as you will need to spend time looking up data to get info at a glance. Usually, for digital trackers, there are two forms to manage tables — spreadsheets or databases.

Spreadsheets are flexible and powerful as you can implement any tracker, calculator, or graph/table. However, you will need to configure things manually in shaping it to whatever you need. Complications like formulas and pivot tables also make it intimidating for beginners. Some examples are Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, or Numbers in macOS.

Databases normally refer to relational databases, which typically need SQL knowledge to do CRUD (create-read-update-delete), and are the heart of all business-related applications. Managing data in databases is typically meant for technical people, however, some online tools do the heavy lifting for you as they are easy to use. Some examples are Airtable and Notion.

Using Abstracted Databases (Airtable/Notion)

Airtable makes managing databases easier by putting an abstraction layer over it. It makes it so lay people won’t need to learn SQL to manage their data. This also makes it easier for people to create their apps. But don’t be intimidated by it, you can still create a simple configurable database that fits your needs.

Notion is a productivity tool that is akin to a personal wiki, however, the main difference with other wiki apps is the implementation of databases that are also abstracted for the layperson. This makes it powerful as you can use this to implement your own KMS workspace.

How I use Notion as a Tracker Portal in My KMS Workspace

One useful feature I find when using tools like Notion is how you can customize your columns and views. You can also easily implement filters in your database to see data at a glance. In short, you can create pseudo-reports.

Here is an example of a sample tracker I use in Notion. I use this to get monthly data about my expenses and diligently update this daily as part of my workflow.

Here is another example of a filter I used to create a pseudo-report. I put a “this month” filter on it to show only my expenses for April (as of this writing). I also enabled a sum function to show how much I’ve spent.

We can see another example here using a Category filter, in this case, Food. I also enabled a sum function to show how much I’ve spent on food.

Implementing only these I feel can already improve your productivity a fair amount. If you dive deeper into the advanced features like linking different databases together, you can create a “workspace dashboard”. You can also share trackers with other people (i.e., a team) and you will increase your team’s collaboration and productivity.

I’ll leave a link here to see this simple Notion Tracker in action. If you are interested in duplicating the tracker, there’s also an option from the page.

Requests for Notion Templates

You can also request a Notion template/s to be created for a small fee. Send me an email ( and I’ll reply as soon as I can.

Wrapping Up

I talked about how to use trackers in your KMS workspace. Trackers are typically used to measure what you want to change consistently. To be effective, only measure things that you want to focus on. Tracking everything splits up your attention.

Use tools like Notion to implement trackers as it is easy to use. You will be able to create pseudo-reports using the different features in Notion Databases.