Measuring yourself

We are living the age of data. Who has the data, has the insights or would be able to generate them.

Companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google are entirely data-driven. The decisions which ad to show you next is totally built on data. They measure how long you are looking at an advertisement and based on that they will recommend you products or services. If you are searching Google for cameras, guess what, you are getting ads for cameras, that’s no secret.

By measuring everything from customer interaction to even their employees, they can predict the future, in some ways.

And that approach, doesn’t only work for enterprises.

What can we learn from that?

You are producing huge amounts of data, every single day. By using a cloud based task list, if you want or not, you are producing data. For every task you are ticking, there is an entry somewhere in a database. By every page you are visiting, you are adding up to your history in your browser. I could continue here, but that’s not the point of this post.

Let’s go back to the businesses, if they are using the data that you and they produce to optimize their-self, why shouldn’t you do that too? Right, there is no reason not to.

Which data could I use?

Just look on your phone which apps you are using and you are getting a grasp what I am talking about. But still let me give you a few examples of services that we could use later:

  • Todo Apps
  • Time Trackers
  • Workout Trackers
  • Read-Later Services e.g. Pocket
  • Calendar
  • Calorie / Food Trackers
  • Activity / Location Trackers
  • Sleep Trackers

You can even enrich that data, by starting a Google Sheet and track data manually, like your mood in a certain moment.

How to get that data

Most of the services I use and know provide API, if you are non-technical; that’s basically a interface programs use to talk to each other.

If you are a developer, I don’t have to tell you how to get that data. If not, read on.

Luckily there a great services like Zapier, that let you use APIs from a ton of online services. I really love their service. Even I as a tech guy use them, because it is so freaking easy to connect services.

What I am basically doing there is create a so called Zap. A Zap always consits of a Trigger, for example a task from your todo list is completed, and an action, which could be, write the results into a Google Sheet.

I am mostly using Google Sheets, because it’s simple database like storage possibility for small projects.

So, now we have that data stored somewhere outside of the services itself.

What the heck should I do with those damn sheets?

Well, all that data alone, either make you happy or sad depending on the output you see.

But if you are starting to combine them with excel diagrams or services like Google data studio, you are able to gain amazing insights.

I will add a very shameless plug here; if you are going to my other blog dhauck.dev and camp out there for a while, you will be able to see the progress of my self measurement solution.

I will totally leave that up to you, how you combine them. For me as a developer it will be probably some charting solution written in Python or Javascript. If you are good with Microsoft Excel use that to combine the data into graphs. Here I just want to give you some ideas what you could combine.

Example time!

Let’s suppose you have the following data (all of them need timestamps, so I won’t add that):

  • completed task
  • tracked workouts
  • tracked sleep
  • tracked food boiled down to nutrition intake for that day

If we are now stretching that data over a week or month and combine them in a diagram, we should easily see you productive times.

Things you can now see is the relation between nutrition intake and your productivity. Or how you performed your workout related to sleep. Or even everything combined, so if you are performing better if you had a proper workout in the morning, went to bed early and ate healthy.

So another shameless self advertisement here; if you are interested in those topic go to my development notes blog at dhauck.dev. There will be something about this in the next weeks.

See you tomorrow!

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