Master Data Me
January 25, 2015 1:49 PM   Subscribe

How can I better track specific parts of my life with an app or spreadsheet?

I've been tracking a few things (biking, exercise, and period) in the front calendar section of my Moleskine planner for years with color coding circles on the dates. I often don't have it with me, or the right color pens and was wondering if there was a better way to do it electronically. The most convenient way would be with my phone.

Some things I will always track (period) but others are for medical reasons (does stress or coffee play into my heartburn?), and some of it is for fun (how many days did I bike this year)? I have looked at different apps/services on iOS recently but haven't found the total package yet. Being a visual person, I like to see some sort of calendar view of this data. It would be awesome if I could also depict the data on a graph (perhaps my moods in relation to my period, for example) to see correlation to help get me to change my life. There are tons of period trackers but they don't track much else (and so much pink!) and there are well designed personal data trackers like Reporter but it doesn't seem to show the kind of visual calendar I'm looking for and seems a bit limiting although I haven't tested it yet.

1. Is there an iPhone app that does this or I can hack to do this?

2. Is there a better way I can log the data in a spreadsheet (Numbers, Excel, Google Docs) to show this data multiple ways? Here is a screenshot of the very basic spreadsheet I've worked up which I like because it's simple, colorful, and shows the month as a calendar. However it is only colored boxes, not data, and can not be used in charts or even to tell me how many days I bike in the month or year. I'm a fairly basic Excel user so I'm not sure the best way to set this up. As a visual person I like the "prettiness" of Numbers over Excel but I'm flexible. What suggestions do you have to make this data work for me in the way I want?
posted by Bunglegirl to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: #2: A pretty simple way is to conditional format a 1 (or whatever) to have the color and background color so the number's hidden (e.g. orange/orange, green/green, and so on.) Then you can do a sums column at the end of the month/year for last 30 days, year, etc. or do sums in another table or below the series in the same table.
posted by michaelh at 1:59 PM on January 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think your excel way is an excellent way of doing it, with the colors. I doubt you'll be able to improve on it very much.
posted by bbqturtle at 3:07 PM on January 25, 2015

Best answer: You are totally talking my language here, I've been doing the same style of tracking for a good while now. I haven't really found that "one app" for the iPhone that did exactly what I wanted so I ended up rolling my own.

At a high level it involves Launch Center Pro actions that prompt me for information (Mood rating, stress level, # of alcoholic beverages, # of coffees, did I drink enough water today?, did I run today?, etc... etc...) and then writes this information to a spreadsheet in Google Docs via IFTTT.

Every so often I pull that spreadsheet in Excel to analyze things, and make charts and graphs that I'll probably be the only person to ever see. I'm sure the same thing could be accomplished with Numbers.

Outside of the Launch Center / IFTTT thing I'm also pulling in Fitbit data, Garmin runs... that type of stuff to also blend in.
posted by austinetsu at 3:28 PM on January 25, 2015

I've never used it, but maybe Daily Goals? Way of Life also can display multiple tracked items at once (see the first screenshot).
posted by acidic at 3:38 PM on January 25, 2015

I use Daily Tracker to track various things, since I found that the interface for entering stuff worked the best for me. It allows simple counters, arbitrary numbers, checkboxes, and also supports timers. It also gives you the ability to set daily / weekly / monthly goals for each item. Of course, it doesn't support displaying multiple items at the same time, leaving me annoyed that I can't piece together my morning and afternoon moods in one chart. Still, it seemed to be the best thing I could find on iOS, and I'm hopeful there's a better app out there.

The Excel approach, while very "brute force", seems to solve this problem effectively, and I might give that a shot too.
posted by Brassica oleracea at 4:14 PM on January 25, 2015

Take a look at Tictrac for visualising the data. It links to other apps or data sources you are already using. For example, I have mine linked to my gmail, my fitness tracker, a google spreadsheet via iftt and some other magic, and runkeeper, and it shows me on a dashboard things like how many emails I sent or received over the past week and what categories they fall into, what I've eaten and how many hours I've slept, where and how long I ran for, and I can build little charts graphing each category against the others to look for correlations. It's got about 30 more datasources it can draw from that I am not using too.
posted by lollusc at 4:23 PM on January 25, 2015

I've been messing around with this a bit too.

You might find Zenobase interesting - it can pull in some data sources automagically and generate graphs. I haven't gotten too far with it just yet, so I'm not sure of the full capabilities.

I also am using austinetsu's Launch Center Pro/IFTTT combo to track medications.

The other things I've found interesting to read for ideas are reddit's /r/quantifiedself board (which is not super active, but seems to not suffer the kinds of folks one often associates with reddit) and the blog at
posted by neilbert at 7:21 PM on January 25, 2015

I haven't tried this, but here is another suggestion: set up a whole bunch of google calendars for each type of activity you want to track. For each calendar create a web app shortcut on your iphone (you can find the URL of a specific calendar from the settings I believe). You should be able to add an event of a particular type by launching the corresponding app. You can then use something like this to download your calendars as a spreadsheet.
posted by piyushnz at 9:52 AM on January 26, 2015

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