Group Self-tracking: Phone/Social Media Use & Mood

I’m posting this on behalf of Clémence, Ilona & Alexane, who are currently working with me on a small group-based tracking experiment. It’s their first encounter with self-tracking & the quantified self. I’ll let them do the explaining etc. of what they are planning

As part of the CRI Fellows Program, 2nd year bachelor students had to choose a CRI Fellow’s work they are interested in. We (Clémence, Ilona and Alexane) decided to work with Bastian Greshake Tzovaras.
The main idea we had was to collect and analyze our own data. We started to brainstorm about it, and figured, with the help of Bastian, we could use a Google Form to collect our daily data.
In our case, we knew we wanted to work on the correlation between the use of our phones/social media and our mood.

After a lot of talking, we figured out the time we spend on our phones is not the only factor to influence our mood during the day. We then decided to add several other parameters to our study, and therefore to dadd them to our Google Form, which we would share not only between the four of us, but potentially our whole classroom. We started to think about these other factors, and we came to the idea that sleep, food, music, hormones and our social life could also interact with our mood.

On one hand, we decided that the data collecting part would last for three months for all four of us. On the other hand, we decided that the data collecting part for the people in our classroom would have to last at least one week, and then they could keep filling it if they felt like it.

Thanks to all the data we will be able to observe new correlation between the different sections and make graphics out of it in order to have a visual representation of our research.

As a beta-test, we will start off by collecting our data for a week, starting tonight. By doing this we hope to learn whether our questions are useful and whether our data collection plan works or needs to be adjusted.

We’d like to invite you as well to have a look at our documentation and the form, to give us feedback if you want.

A PDF version of our Google form can be found at:
A commentable version of our documentation can be found at:

Let us know what you think!


Thank you for posting here! A few thoughts:

I think a key strength is that you are starting with an exploratory phase in which you track your own data. You describe this as a “beta-test.” This may seem like a small thing, but it may help if you do not use the term “beta-test” because it makes it seem (to yourselves) like you’ve really settled on a tracking protocol and now are testing before releasing to a larger group. From your description, I think you are at an earlier stage of exploration. It is NOT a setback to reframe your work this week as exploration instead of beta testing. In fact, I think it’s the equivalent of “sharpening your tools” before starting to make something. It will make your project so much easier and more successful to be patient with this phase, and even repeat the week if necessary. (I suspect it probably will be.) Again, don’t worry that this is “wasting time.” I promise it’s not. Some of the questions you may have already thought to ask during this exploratory phase:

  1. How much trust do you have in the measurements?
  2. How long do all the measurements (combined) take to make. It looks like the form is meant to be filled out 1x per day, is this working?
  3. Does it matter, in helping you think about your questions, what time the form is filled out? Do all these kinds of data need to be collected at the same time?

These are just a few questions to illustrate some of the issues you can clarify in the exploratory phase.

Please post more here about your progress!

I’m excited to hear about what you learn! :smiley:

I discovered the process for designing research about myself was really humbling. You would think “oh, with tons of research experience this shouldn’t be so hard” … but it was! What did I really want to know? was this really the right data to collect? could I actually do it?

the exploratory phase isn’t just for newbies, we should consider it a standard step. when we read published research papers nobody is telling you how it really happens. :stuck_out_tongue: for any field, what really happens in research is a lot more trial and error, figuring out how to set up an experiment in the first place, and what question you should really be asking…

:thinking: :thought_balloon: the META here of “what questions/issues do we commonly raise into during exploratory phase” might be a great collective self research topic in itself. (qualitative research seems fine to start with on that, just collecting “lessons learned” self reports?) → for me, I think some insight has been… (1) it is very very very hard to stick to a data collection plan (2) it is easier to stick to a plan when I’m getting feedback / utility from data during the process (usually graphs of the data)

I guess the combo implies that without some sort of analysis tool in hand at the outset (that meets my needs, motivates me), it’s a struggle to motivate myself to maintain data collection? Hm. I hadn’t thought much about this, and I wonder how much the “data feedback/motivation” plays a role for others.

“How much time did you spend on your phone today?” vs “How much time do you think you spent on your phone today?” :grin:

1 Like

hah! but I think they might use the “screen time” settings section on the iphone :slight_smile:

Both questions are interesting, especially together. I’ve been recording a prediction of my tremor measurement before each tremor measurement, to see if my feeling of “being tremory” matches the degree of measured tremor. You could do something similar with phone time.

Thanks so much for the comments and feedback! And my personal bad for forgetting to post here earlier.

We all met after our first night of tracking our data and already learned a couple of things from it:

First the good news: all 4 of us remembered to fill out the form. Ande made some changes to the form thanks to you! Update from Bastian: I immediately forgot on Friday night though…

We also figured it takes about 3 minutes for us to fill out the, but then we already know questions, so it would probably take longer for new people discovering the form.

We also adjusted the survey in the following ways:

  • We clarified how minutes for the screen time/sleep need to be entered.
  • We adjusted the second question about sports, and said that people don’t need to enter a numerical value if no sports done.
  • We clarified how to skip to the end of the survey.
  • We clarify what morning is for music (time before arriving at work)
  • We also noticed that just the act of tracking our phone usage impacts our behavior. After shocked by the high values for phone usage we noticed on he first day, it makes us very aware of every time we use the phone now.

We will keep you posted on the progress. We’ll meet to discuss our latest updates on Tuesday :slight_smile:

I wanted to give a final update on our project, as we have wrapped up our self-experiment last week! We collected data from mid/late September of until around mid-December. Given the teaching & evaluation schedule we were part of, we could not collect data over a longer period of time, meaning that individual conclusions were hard to draw as the time series isn’t long enough. But we could see some really interesting things in the aggregate data!

Clémence & Illona wrote a final report on their results and experiences. You can read it here!


It’s interesting to see, even though it’s hard to make individual conclusions!

Was a copy of the Google Form shared? It’d be nice to see it. :slight_smile:

A PDF version of the form is at

If there is interest I could try to make a copy of the original google form and see if it’s possible to make it publicly editable so that people could copy it into their own google drives!