I'm not sure if I'm extremely bad at this or if everybody is. I personally just seem to have astounding problems noticing what changes actually happen.
At some point or another I've for example
- stopped eating lactose, glucose and FODMAP-stuff and started eating them again
- taken vitamins regularly, but mostly not
- slept more, and less
- read books with and without making notes and
- exercised and not exercised.
I have no idea what kind of effects this kind of choices have really had. I seem to be generally healthy and happy anyways. The only causal effect I have managed to note is that if I drink lots and lots of beer, my stomach will get angry over it. Otherwise I'm completely oblivious if exercising makes me happier or more energetic than sitting on the couch.
This is really annoying and makes forming any good habits really hard. Even if taking vitamins would objectively be a brilliant idea, I can't really notice any sort of difference if I'm taking them or not. As the effects in this case are subtle and hard to notice (didn't get a flu, when I could have gotten it, if I wouldn't have been taking my vitamins), it's impossible to rely on any sort of natural feedback mechanisms to help.
Luckily, the effects of most habits can be sort of guessed: vitamins and exercise are good for you, playing WoW for 140 hours a week is probably bad for you, etc. Nowadays you have so many tools for starting a habit and tracking the effects, that even I seem to be able to get something done.
Fitocracy was pretty much the thing that helped me start exercising more, as it gives out immediate rewards. You don't have to wait for 40 years for not to die of a heart attack, but can immediately get Internet points for going on a jog.
Google sheets (and Excel, naturally) can be used to track any kind of stuff at all. I'm tracking alertness and cleanliness of the apartment, for example. I'll have to tweak the tracking system still, but at least the tools exist and I can update them anywhere I go. Maybe at some point I will have some hard data and can go: "if I sleep less than 6 hours, I seem to be really tired, but more than 8 doesn't help extra, hmm!"
Beeminder can be used as a tool and as a meta-tool to make sure I use the other tools. I've tried tracking stuff on google spreadsheets before, but always just forgot about it rather quickly. Same issue with Trello. Beeminder helps me create habits and also can keep me using the tools that I've chosen.
I would still love easier methods to track the results though. Quantified Self -movement probably would be a good community to crowd source this kind of thing. If measuring is the big and important thing, then there should be some very easy-to-use tools or apps to do that. Tracking stuff on Google spreadsheets is one step forward from writing down your weight on a paper every morning, but there should be something better out there already.
Happy-track-o-mat.com or something?