The quantified self is a movement that uses technology to gain 'self-knowledge', typically through the use of biometric devices, self-tracking, etc.
I had originally heard of it through the four hour work-week and then quickly developed a curiousity to learn more about my body, my actions and to mitigate all inefficiencies in my life.
I played with many new ways to track my personal data, some worked and continue to add value to my life, and others made me anxious or time-consuming.
The following is a list of applications, re-purposed productivity programs or spaces I used to track/log my data, all of them have mobile versions, which makes things much more easier when on the run.
I began by buying a Fitbit Flex which tracked activity, sleep and came with a silent alarm. I also picked up an Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale which tracked wifi, body fat percentage and BMI trends. The fantastic thing about fitbit products is that they upload via a wireless dongle to the fitbit.com dashboards and lay out my data in a simple but informative dashboard.
The site also provides a food journal and mood/allergy tracker. When I first started using it I was tracking every grape and cracker I ate to keep track of my calorie intake. After a month of doing this I stopped as I wasn't gaining anything from it, I was eating healthier before I started, and tracking calories was tedious. I believe the quality of the calories I take in is more important than the number of calories.
HabitRPG gamifies your daily tasks and to-do lists, and rewards you with coins and experience for completed items, and punishes you for incomplete ones by slashing your character's health, similar to enemies in RPG games.
You can set the difficulty of each task by editing them individually, which will reward you heavily with experience and coin when you complete difficult tasks and barely at all with the easy ones. This is a double-edged sword however, as difficult tasks punish you severely if left incomplete.
The system is sophisticated enough to know when a task becomes easier for you to complete based on the data trends. This helps you re-direct focus to the other tasks you may be having trouble with.
Character customization, parties, pets, mounts and communities keep things fresh and interesting, so there is always much more to keep you busy when you get more efficient at your daily tasks.
I currently use it to keep me on track with my Japanese studies, Photoshop studies, and now to make sure I post to this blog! The site provides nice little charts to show you how well you've been "sticking to the plan" day over day.
The To-Do list is a great way to rack up some easy experience, I normally pop over anything I think of from my master checklist app:
Google Keep is a productivity tool which allows you to leave yourself location-based notes, reminders, checklists.
While it doesn't really fit in with the Quantified Self criteria, it helps feed the apps/tools I use directly.
I saw a talk on the quantified self site of a man who tracked how he spent his time by making several calendars for each category of activity, and filling it up with everything he did to the nearest 5 minute interval.
Needless to say I went overboard:
I stopped tracking after attending a Quantified Self Meetup in Toronto, where I learned most people agreed that friction-less data collection (where no manual entry is required) was the preferred method, as the opposite would be creating inefficiencies in your life.
Now I only use it to block out time and set reminders for my 'daily goals' from the HabitRPG app mentioned above.
Mint is an application that allows you to organize an categorize your purchases, displays your spending trends, and allows to create budgets and financial goals. It links to your bank account, scans it and spits out the most shocking revelations about your spending. It's a huge help!
Since I use Google products extensively I signed up via Google Dashboards to get monthly updates on my Google Account stats. It's an eye opener, and fun to look through at a glance.
Asana is a project management tool created to eliminate the need for e-mail. I use Asana to keep track of my current and completed work projects. The app provides an easy-to-use interface, dashboards and burndown charts. I keep the tab pinned on my browser at work, and it has helped me get a lot more done.
Degreed allows you to score and validate your lifelong learning. They believe that your education can be quantified much beyond a diploma or a certificate, and pulls in all your education from different sources.
Strava is a GPS cycling companion that tracks distance, speed, elevation, etc. I use it every time I go for a ride, and love seeing how I have improved in either distance or speed over time. It also shows you how you match up to others on the same street/path segments in a "King of the Hill" style. All the data collected goes into these wonderful dashboards where you can hover over any segment and see the exact details of your ride.
OneNote, a Microsoft product, is a free-form information collection device, capable of multi-user collaboration. It can collect handwritten or typed notes, drawings, screen clippings and audio.
- Tracking all the dreams I remember (the morning after)
- Keeping track of what new things i've learned daily
I also use it as a memory dump for several things:
- Business ideas
- Service Improvement plans for work
- Blog ideas
- Travel ideas/itineraries
Ideally i'd like to have the least amount of apps possible to get all of this done, but for now this is working for me!
Well that's my list, hope it helps someone else out there get started in the Quantified Self movement.