I’m Alex. My interest in QS comes from my desire to be healthier and more productive. I have this vision where eventually I can manage my time so effectively that I’m productive and I’m making progress in my hobbies and interests. I’m a software engineer in downtown Chicago working at an ed-tech startup. I’m excited to learn more about quantified self and to hopefully give back to this community!
I just started tracking myself recently (steps, sleep, exercise, etc.) and I’ve been thinking about a few questions for the more experienced quantified self-ers:
- How many things do you track manually vs automatically? Like tracking your mood vs. tracking your steps with a FitBit.
- How do you track manually? Google forms/sheets, another app, or pen & paper?
- Do you get more value out of tracking or analyzing your data?
I enjoy tracking because it makes me feel like I’m taking the right steps. But I feel like I could get more out of my data if I tried analyzing more of it. I don’t necessarily know what insights I’m looking for, but I’m hoping even some basic visualizations will help.
I use AskMeEvery to track manually track some daily data (I also run the site ). I track things like “what did I accomplish today?” and “what are my goals for tomorrow?” but it’s also great at tracking numerical data as well.
It’ll auto-parse the number data and graph the responses. I can also download my data as csv and graph it or process it in Numbers or Excel.
That’s awesome! I really like the idea of receiving reminders to track manual data. I saw that your site sends emails to do this. Have you ever thought about sending text messages instead?
Also, how do you decide what graphs will be useful? That’s what I’ve been struggling with. I feel like plotting my data over time is a good start, but I’m wondering if I can do more.
I actually do get some of my questions sent to me by text When you sign up and subscribe, you can choose to receive your questions by either email or text.
For graphs, I actually don’t personally use them much as most of my manual questions are for text replies - I’ve found the accountability of answering the questions every day helps keep me on track every day. For the two questions I mentioned, it’s really helpful for me to periodically review my answers every few weeks and see how far i’ve come on various projects. It’s easy for me to get stuck in the weeds, and being able to quickly review weeks or months of progress is really valuable for me.
One graph that I do like is the line graph for my “how was the day (1-10)” question. It’s encouraging to me to look back at the troughs, remember the struggle, and see how I overcame it days later. With more complicated or objective data, i might graph more, but for the subjective stuff I measure a simple line graph over time is plenty for me.
Oh okay, cool! Well, maybe I’ll try out the site. It’s interesting to me that you find looking at your responses the most valuable. How do you synthesize that data though? Like, is it easy to tell that things are heading in the right direction with the just the raw responses? Or do you have a way of evaluating those responses after the fact?
For the type of questions and responses I have now, looking at raw data is enough. I used to track a question related to the types of workouts i was doing at the time, and looking at the line graph of the responses was super helpful for that one to show continued progress.