What would you/do you track in a daily record?
October 27, 2010 9:55 AM   Subscribe

Jumping on the Self-Tracking/Quantified Self bandwagon and looking for suggestions for variables apart from the usual kind (diet, exercise, sleep, time spent online etc.) to track on a daily basis. If you do this, could you share the parameters you like to monitor and record? (Or better yet, share a template for your spreadsheet?!) All suggestions, no matter however subjective, quirky or esoteric are welcome. I will be using the spreadsheet tool in Google Docs. Thanks!
posted by sk381 to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
You can view the Activity section on Daytum for some ideas.
posted by backwards guitar at 10:29 AM on October 27, 2010

I did this for a couple years. Parameters included:

hours of sleep
# of intervals in which that sleep was obtained
quality of sleep
quality of dreams
whether I awakened through an alarm clock or naturally
number of caffeinated beverages consumed
number of alcoholic beverages consumed
number of servings of milk consumed
calories ingested
% body fat
% water
waist circumference
pedometer-measured steps taken
general metric of exercise
number of pushups
number of situps
subjective assessment of happiness
subjective assessment of future outlook (optimistic, pessimistic...)
subjective assessment of productivity
subjective assessment of how far behind I am on work
extent of social activity
extent of time spent with with partner
sexual activity
vitamins ingested
types of meat ingested (fish, fowl, red, vegetarian only, other)

When you regress it, be sure to include (or at least check robustness on) variations on these -- it could be useful to know whether your happiness correlates to the number of calories ingested in the past week, even if it doesn't correlate well to the number of calories ingested that day.
posted by foursentences at 10:37 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

You might look at Track Your Happiness, which is a research study that "investigates what makes life worth living" - I've found it much easier to respond to their prompts than to track the same data on my own over time. I also like orienting my thinking towards *why* this stuff is worth tracking - if I eat & sleep & exercise better, I'm happier!
posted by judith at 11:50 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Mood. Not just as emotional state at single or set of points during the day, but relative and compared to previous days mood. It's so subjective and difficult to operationalize that it's worth not isolating it on a day by basis, but trying to work in slightly longer term fluctuations to it as input data, not just as output or analysis.

I suggest it partly because it has serious potential to mess with your perception of the other data you're inputing, but also because it's valuable at the end of the day (or study period) when you can say "well I thought I was a bit depressed, but then I did a whole lot, ate well, exercised, and ended the day rating my happinesss fairly highly" and that gives a broader and more long term view of how you're perceiving your own standing emotional states.
posted by Ahab at 1:25 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

My wife and I have been doing this for about two years now. We've used it for nudges on things like diet (% vegetarian meals), fitness (miles run) and reading (books read), but also to just keep track of what we're up to. Last year we put out a personal annual report similar to Nicholas Felton's. It was a lot of fun to compile and makes for a great way to remember the year.

Some of the things we keep track of are:
- Anecdotes: We record the best/most humorous/interesting/etc. thing that happened to us each day.
- Food: Restuarants, Meals with friends/family, Wines, Bread loaves baked
- Entertainment: Concerts, Movies, Blogs
- Fitness: Miles, Time, Races
- Home/garden: Projects completed, Garden results, Weather extremes
- Travel: Trips taken, highlights, modes of travel

I also created a Excel file with macros to track exactly what I was doing at any given time. I'd click a button and it would record that activity (i.e. working, sleeping, eating, etc.). Then I could click another button and it would give me a nice graph. (Something like this but with more variation obviously.) It was a lot of work, but tracked every activity for about a month and found some suprising results.

MeMail me if your interested in the Annual Report or Excel "life tracking" file and I could send you a copy.
posted by John Frum at 11:28 AM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

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