When I want to start tracking a metric in my life, most of the time I use an app or service that enables me to do it more easily or provide options like statistics or sharing. I’ve tracked a lot of different things, some better and more easily than others. Sometimes my data would be locked-in, or sometimes I had to do the statistics on my own. During the last few weeks I’ve built a list of questions I ask myself before choosing a service for tracking. And I wanted to share my list with the community and service developers. This list is not definitive by all means, it’s a work in progress and questions may be added, removed or changed at all times.
Let’s get started! Before even looking at services you can use, it is wise to have a somewhat clear vision of where you want to go:
- What is my goal?
- What question do I want to answer with this?
- How often do I want to measure?
- In what ways can the metric be sampled?
- Do I need help from other people for tracking?
- How does it affect my social life?
- How much time should I need?
- How long do I want to keep track of it?
- Is it useful to share my data with other people?
When I’ve got these questions answered I start looking for services that fit my vision. When I have a list of services I could use, I go through another list of questions that allows me to make my choice more easily:
- How easy is it to enter data?
- What type of data do I need to put in?
- Is the data easy to export (e.g. Data-portability)
- Does the service provide analytics?
- Do I own the data or does the service, and how secure is it?
- What are the experiences of other people using the service?
- Does gamification help or not, and how is it implemented?
- What are the costs of the service in comparison to what I should get out of it?
- Is there an API (application programming interface)?
When I stop using the service or have been using it for a certain amount of time, these are the things I ask myself:
- Am I happy using the service?
- Would I use it again (for other metrics)?
- Write a review in the self-tracking guide!
So this is my own list of questions and things I want to answer when using a service or application for self-tracking. It’s a work in progress so feel free to put any more questions you would ask to yourself in the comments.