KiMBALL PETERSON

AUTHOR - LIFE HACKER- CREATIVITY EXPLORER

An Overquantified Life?

An Over-Quantified Life?

I’ve found that measuring certain behaviors, physical markers, goals, mood and activity on a daily, and sometimes hourly basis, is very helpful to keep my life on track.

How many data points do I track: 38 items!

That sounds ridiculous, but how many items do you track on your daily task list? Or your weekly/monthly/annual goals?

For me the 38 items is about right. Mine cover the basic measurements relating to weight, blood pressure, writing hours and pages, exercise and mood. Those five basic areas encompass my 38 individual data points. My Fitbit app for example, tracks ten different measures and it stays open on a second monitor so that I know where I stand with respect to my daily exercise goals at all times.  I have Parkinson’s disease, so the more activity I get, the better to stave off the effects as long as possible.

The Quantified Self movement goes well beyond this. There are reports that some people track up to 300 or more data points each day.

Is that a good idea?

I think that tracking too many items can easily move into the obsessive disorder spectrum and have diminishing returns given the time spent on it.

Let's put it this way. Would I prefer to spend my time working on my novels or recording or reviewing data points?

To me the answer is obvious. Writing has the higher priority and is the best use of my time. As I write this I'm even wondering whether all the items I do track are worth my time.

I'm sure at some point there will be automated apps which will continuously monitor all of your health related data and only notify you if something is out of the norm.

I think that's where the quantified self movement needs to evolve to.

Now I'm going to go look at my spreadsheet and delete all items that aren't truly 'value added'. My time is a precious and diminishing commodity and I don't want to waste it on logging.