KPIs for my life
January 9, 2017 4:45 PM   Subscribe

I've been wondering how much useful data about my day to day behaviour I can record seamlessly(or at least with very limited overhead). Ideally I'd be looking to grab all the data into one repository and then do analytics on it. What data could I capture, and how?

So I have some ideas, like turning strava on when/if I bike to work, and since I read before bed I could perhaps find a way to record when my phone screen is on and use that to calculate sleep time.
posted by Just this guy, y'know to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Oh I should add:
Or systems that allow me to record things in a useable way, i.e. there was a Pomodoro tool that asked how productive youthought each pomodoro was, or services that ask you each day what you did.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 5:07 PM on January 9, 2017

It sounds like you want Sleep Cycle for your sleep, at least.
posted by kevinbelt at 5:15 PM on January 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

I've been playing with this off and on. A few items I've used:
Fitbit gives me step counts, various activity, weight and sleep. I believe most trackers for these things will allow some kind of export, either natively or through IFTTT.
My main bank will send me an email with every transaction. So there's spending data for that account, at least.
Moves gathers location data in the background on my phone, and can be exported via third party.
There is an app called "Reporter" for iOS that can ask you a set of questions when you wake, when you go to bed and/or randomly throughout the day.

I tend to lurk on various "quantified self" forums for other ideas - a lot of those folks are into more of the biohacking side, but there's some good self tracking information in them too.
posted by neilbert at 5:28 PM on January 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

A few years back, this was called life logging. Like neilbert said, for the online stuff you can use IFTTT to at least get all the data in the same place. (eg to record what you're listening to).

Your phone is chock full of sensors, though if you turn 'em all on you'll do horrible things to your battery life. But you could use something like Tasker or Automate to raise events when, say, you enter/leave the range of a WiFi hotspot to get location without killing your battery. Or when a particular app is foregrounded. (Utility limited because our phones turn themselves down to conserve battery life)
posted by Leon at 5:58 PM on January 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Some fitness trackers from Fitbit, Misfit, and Jawbone UP have various methods for automatically tracking your daily activity, sleep, and workouts. Not all trackers will offer all of these, but my Fitbit Alta does all three. Apparently Android Wear 2.0 is going to have a feature that can automatically detect workouts but not just track them in Google Fit—it will even open an app like Strava for you if, say, it detects that you're cycling. You can also set up Apple Health or Google Fit to track your activity automatically during the day on newer iPhones and Android phones.

I like using RescueTime to track which apps and websites I use on my computer. If you get the Premium version you can also track offline time by adding notes (e.g. "In a meeting"). (Full disclosure: I just started working at RescueTime, but I've used the app for years.)

I recently switched from Bitbucket to GitHub for programming so I can get the GitHub punch card showing me which days I made commits and how many commits I made.

If you use Todoist for task management, there are some built-in statistics features to show you when you completed tasks, how many you've completed, and which projects they were in.

For music, almost everything plugs into, which has some handy stats about your most-listened-to artists, albums and tracks, as well as the bonus of giving you recommendations for new music based on your listening habits.

I use the Nike+ Training Club app for workouts which connects to both Google Fit and Apple Health, so I can keep stats on my workouts alongside other data. 8fit on Android does this too, and I'm sure there are lots of other workout apps that do the same thing.

Not sure if you wanted to collect and analyse the data yourself, but if you want a service to do it for you, you could try my product Exist. It connects to most of the services I've mentioned, as well as collecting weather data for you if you give it your location, tracking your activity on Twitter and Instagram, your Swarm check-ins, and the number and duration of events on your calendar. There's also a built-in mood tracking feature you can use to rate each day from 1-5 and add a note about what happened. The analysis includes finding correlations in your data, insights about how your behaviour changes day to day, and long-term trend graphs. We also just released a Year in Review report for all our users that was pretty fun—you can see an examples here and here.
posted by bellebethcooper at 6:04 PM on January 9, 2017 [6 favorites]

Your iPhone already tracks you. Check it out!
posted by oceanjesse at 7:20 PM on January 9, 2017

I use LifeCycle and I LOVE it. It's made by the folks behind SleepCycle, which was mentioned above. Every day it gives me a donut displaying the time I spend in each activity, and it also shows me by week and by month and analyses trends. It's amazing.
posted by guster4lovers at 8:35 PM on January 9, 2017

So, I've been playing around with some of the recommendations here. is really very good indeed.
It automatically polls a huge load of trackers and works out correlations. I currently have 55 attributes that get tracked. More importantly the developer(s) Josh and Belle are very nice and put up with me sending far too many emails* about their service.
Also, they are very very transparent about their pricing and their income and how they operate. It's pretty impressive stuff.

It doesn't quite do everything I was after, but it's a solid 85%.

I'm also using an app called Nomie for individual tracking (Medications, Habits, inadvisable cheeseburgers and various biological data.)

I have a YNAB account for money tracking which I'm not using, but I really really should be.
(Exist has a money_spent attribute in the API, but I don't think anything reports to it, and I've not currently got the free time to whip up something to write to it. I very well might quite soon)

I'm not fully convinced by my Pomodoro solution.
I use a tool called Kanban Flow for work tracking that has one built in, and that's ... ok.
I'm trying out PomoDone but not fully decided on it.

I don't use GitHub much because it's only for personal projects (at work we use Mercurial) and I've not had much time to work on my own stuff. But that's all linked into Exist for the rare occasions that I do use it.

I bought a cheap tracker from Misfit to track sleep and to improve step tracking. (On the advice of Josh from Exist) and it works very well indeed. It's also hot pink, which is a great look** with my London Business man Business suit. I was having trouble getting sleep data to update into Exist at first. A problem that they rapidly fixed for me.

I actually put Instagram on my phone, because it's a thing I could track.
(Not a thing I've used much before) and shared some photos, which is really nice to do. I did it for the data but then found I quite enjoyed it.
Likewise, there was the ability to track food data in exist, so I tracked food data. Something I wouldn't have done before. ***

Oh, also Swarm/Foursquare. I had used it ages ago but didn't get the appeal. Now I like it because I can correlate where I go with health/mood/sleep and so on.

I can get a bit obsessive about data and lovely graphs and things, so I'm hoping all this tracking will lead to a decent chance of keeping up good behaviours. And I suspect as more things get added to exist I will probably begin tracking them, because mmm delicious data.

Basic tracking is all handily taken care of now (with the exception of YNAB because I'm putting it off, bad!)

I need to sort out some more detailed logging of work done, so I can go back and reference it more easily. (My work is very project based, and every so often I need to write a CV of recent projects for the next project and completely forget all the work I've been doing.) Not sure what I'm going to use for that yet, mainly because it may require a degree of confidentiality. A simple document on GDrive might do the trick, but I might end up forgetting to do it and letting it rust away. RescueTime has a "What did you do today" thing, but that might be temporally too local. Not sure yet.
Have I missed anything? Probably.
Anyhow that's how the Personal KPI experiment has been doing.

I'd say if you're interested in a similar kind of QS/Lifeloggingy stuff I would recommend

*(seriously, I got a Gmail meter report for my non-work email and Josh from Exist is in 4th place in my Top 10 Email interactions table, sorry Josh, I'll stop distracting you... though I do have a couple of questions about coffee tracking...)

**Genuinely! It makes me very happy. When I was a younger and informally dressed I'd wear a hot pink wristband, but cultural convention and so on sort of gets in the way of that. Now I have a great excuse to sport a piece of hot pink jewellery. Sounds odd, putting it like that, but blah blah blah heteronormative conservative business dress assumptions and so on make an exception for a manly sports tracker where they wouldn't for a jelly shag band.

***I guess we'll see how long that keeps up...

posted by Just this guy, y'know at 1:43 AM on February 1, 2017

Thanks so much for this nice comment! And sorry I didn't see it earlier. It's awesome that you've found some value in Exist so far. I asked Josh about your comment and he couldn't think of anyone who'd been emailing a whole lot, so it certainly isn't enough to be a bother!

You've probably already seen this, but we recently added custom tracking, which lets you define any tags you want and add them to your days. You can use these to track good and bad habits, medications, allergies or health symptoms, people you spend time with, or even more fine-grained subjective measures than our overall mood tracking offers, like stress, anxiety, or feeling tired. All these tags are analysed in Exist like the rest of your data, so you can get insights, trends, and correlations between your tags and other data you're syncing. If you're not already using that, it might help you consolidate some of the data you're using Nomie to track, though custom tracking only works for binary yes/no tracking, so Nomie is still a good option for manually tracking different values of something.

Oh, and since you enjoy Gmail stats, you might like the recent Gmail integration we released, which lets you sync your number of sent and received emails to Exist.

Anyway, hope you're still enjoying it since this comment, and feel free to reach out to us anytime!
posted by bellebethcooper at 1:02 AM on August 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yup, I was in the Custom Tracking beta, and I've found it incredibly useful and use it a ton.

Nomie has more or less gone by the wayside. It worked well, but I'm bad at tracking, so as soon as I forget the data becomes patchy and less useful. Custom Tracking has replaced 2 of the 3 things I was tracking with Nomie and added a few more.

Food tracking hasn't gone great, it's just too much effort to get right.
I'm still looking for a workable tool for that.
I have bought a Fitbit scale, which is great because you can just step on it every day or so and it goes into exist, then I get messages saying (for example) you weigh more when you track "Jeff" more. Because Jeff buys me too many cheeseburgers.* It's not quite as good as proper food tracking, but it's something.

I've also, of course, added the Gmail integration.
It doesn't provide the deep dive of Gmail meter, but gives a good usage indication.
I might have to see if I can rig something up for work emails, because they're probably a more useful productivity indicator.

Swarm has also fallen into disuse. Again the patchy data problem. I just don't check in places, so the data is unreliable. But perhaps I should aim to use it for anytime I go to a fast food place or pub, because there were interesting correlations.

I think the MisFit is broken. It was cheap, and sadly I think that's reflected in the build quality.
Also it doesn't auto sync, meaning every three or four days I check exist and see I have no sleep or exercise data and go and sync my misfit (or try to and find it's not working) I may have to go FitBit for a replacement.

Project logging has been basically solved with a text document and a repeating todoist item. Sometimes simplest is best.

YNAB is still waiting for me to grow up and actually use it. Hopefully I will.

*Jeff isn't real. Or is maybe just my own lack of self control.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:51 PM on August 30, 2017

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