Biocost & Spoons

“Biocost” stands for the non-financial costs of a particular activity, including easily-measureable things like time and resources consumed, but also the difficult-to-measure, but very real, costs such as emotional and mental stress, attention diversion, etc.

In QS discussions we generally focus on what was done, what was measured and how it was analyzed, and what was learned. But, above all of this was the doing itself, and the biocost of that effort.

Alexandra Carmichael had written a wonderful and poignant post on the QS blog sometime ago on why she stopped tracking. The biocost of her tracking was clearly too high.

Paul Pangaro, CJ Mapuin, and Hugh Dubberly have written a couple of articles describing biocost and why it is important: Paying Attention and An Economics of Human Behavior.

While self-quantification projects are a choice for many, others have no choice. They must track and adjust their lives, and the biocost of these activities significantly impacts what can be spent on other activities. Christine Miserandino, who suffers from Lupus, describes this in her famous post on The Spoon Theory.

What do you think of these ideas? What has been the biocost of your own QS efforts?

I think this is a great question, Raj. Things that are harder to measure are often ignored, but are often just as important or even more important than what is being measured.

I did resume tracking a few months after writing that post, but in a very different way, with a lower biocost. Now I track with purpose - if I have a question I want to answer, or a pattern I want to learn about, I will track something for a while (this is how I figured out that wheat and dairy cause migraines in me, but once I learned that, I stopped tracking my diet.)

I think everyone will have their own biocost and need to find their own balance. It does take some experimenting, but then I see life as one giant experiment anyway. :slight_smile: