How would you help someone starting out with self-tracking?

I’m working on a post for the QS blog on what a person should know to start a self-tracking project. A lot of the advice is based on just my personal experience, so I thought I’d open my perspective a little by asking the forum, what would you tell a friend if she/he expressed interest in self-tracking?

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I would start with an overview of the tools, here’s my personal list:

  • Best Overall (accuracy & use) smart tracker: Oura ring Gen. 2
  • Smartwatches
    • Fitbit are best for general fitness
    • Garmin are best for athletes
    • Apple Watch best for iPhone users
    • Samsung Galaxy Watch best smart watch for Android users
  • Computer usage:
    • Best overall (Time breakdown): Rescuetime
    • For the more techie:
      • ConnectorDB
  • Custom tracking: Nomie (Android/iOS)
    • We love: Simple, effective, beautiful design. Open API.
    • Runner up: HabitBull (popular, but I don’t like it)
  • Time tracking: Toggle
  • Task manager: Todoist
  • Lifestyle:
    • Fasting: Zero
  • Music listening (Including tracking Spotify):



Of course it’s always important to have a reason to self track. Increase productivity? Fitness? Causes of unknown health problem (like headaches or indigestion)? Sleeping better? Having a goal will obviously inform the tracking you do, and motivate the whole project.


Carefully conducted N=1 experiments can be very powerful too, but require dedication. This is probably not a “beginner” QS topic, but probably where some of the most valuable learning can come from. I want to write about this topic more soon…


Depends a lot on why they want to do a self-tracking project; if they don’t know that, watching some show & tell talks or reading some books should provide some inspiration and an idea of what is possible and how to go about doing it. One piece of advice would be share project updates early & often, either in public, or just with a friend. These projects rarely proceed entirely as expected…


Hi there! I’m new to the forums, but wanted to jump in here because helping people start with self-tracking is something I think about quite a bit (I’m a data driven life coach). Here is a quick list of ways I would (and do) help.

  1. Remember that tracking is a new daily activity and it may take a little bit to get into the habit. Sometimes it’s easy to add on to an already existing daily habit (i.e. after brushing teeth, with lunch, etc)
  2. Try to find some support or an accountability partner to check in with
  3. (Echoing Kastan’s point about having a purpose) remember the insights you are looking to gain from the data (and have clear measures of success). Focusing on the outcomes can be inspirational in the moment.

Hope this helps! I look forward to the blog post! :slight_smile:

[edit: words]


Thank you for the help, Kastan, Eric and Allison!

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Agree with other comments although I would add that MyFitnessPal is very helpful if one can commit to entering massive amounts of food data. Also for iOS looks promising.

Tracking is behavior modification where the human organism gets positive reinforcement from favorable numerical or qualitative data but hypothesizes and implements changes to influence unfavorable data. If all goes well it is a virtuous cycle.

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How do you use Nomie? From the info on they say the data is only stored on the device, and the API is a paid service…? …and some unclarity about versions and docs only for v2…

Nomie 2 has an optional “cloud” service with an API of sorts… That feature was dropped from Nomie 3; instead you can have the app sync data to any Couchbase server. Both versions support exporting data as a JSON file.


Wait, is nomie app dead, or I am missing something?

The Last Goodbye.
Nomie, the center of my life for the last 5 years, has helped over 100,000 people track and understand any part of their life. Unfortunately, I was not able to make Nomie into a viable and sustainable business, and will be sun-setting the app (for good this time) starting March 2019.

Yeah, it’s dead. He announced it the day after I downloaded it. If you already have it downloaded before it disappears from the app stores, he expects the Nomie 3 (but not Nomie 2) to continue to work for a long time on iOS, and Nomie 2 to continue to work on the Play Store for a long time (Nomie 3 was never released on Android).

:’( That is indeed sad. Maybe we could convince him to make it an open source community project instead? Shouldn’t be too hard to have the app site as a github page and just keen the apk and such there…

@fiddur I sent him an e-mail (finger crossed)

I would recommend starting from “What”, “Why”, and “When” the person is planning to track. In other words, I’d start from the purpose and the goal. When the person knows at least a little about his purpose and goals, then he can move on to choosing a platform where to track his/her things. I prefer smartphone apps, because it’s simple, fast, and I always have it on me, and there a lot of apps available you can try - health, habits, medications, supplements, productivity, habits, symptoms, etc. trackers. Some of them are really advanced and can suit your different needs too. I don’t have an app list myself but I’m using Effecto app right now which lets me track everything I’ve mentioned before. It’s really good, I’d recommend everyone to try Effecto app. But it’s only my opinion, you can probably find some recommendations online too.


You could start with this book! It was written by Gary Wolf the Leader of Quantified Self.

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