Tag Archives: habits

Adam Johnson: QS Bits & Bobs

AdamJohnson_LifeLogs

This is Adam Johnson’s third QS talk. Previously he’s discussed the lifelogging tool he developed and uses and how he re-learned how to type in order to combat RSI. In this talk, Adam gives an update to his self-tracking focused on three areas: tracking an long-distance cycling trip, his streamlined lifelogging process, and how he’s using the Lift app to track his habits.

What Did Adam Do?
In general, Adam is dedicated lifelogger who’s been tracking what he’s doing for over a year. Adam cycled 990 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats with his father and brother over 14 days and tracked it along the way. Because he wasn’t able to “lug around his Mac” to complete his regular lifelogging he decided to update his custom system to accept photos and notes. Lastly, he added habit tracking to his daily lifelogging experience by using the Lift app.

How Did He Do It?
Adam tracked his long distance cycling journey by using Google location history and a Garmin GPS unit. He was able to export data from both services in order to get a clear picture of his route as well as interesting data about the trip.

He also updated his lifelogging software so that it could accept photos and notes he hand enters on his phone. The software, available on GitHub, gives him an easy way to track multiple event such as how often he drinks alcohol and how much he has to use his asthma inhaler.

Lastly, Adam tracked the daily habits he wanted to accomplish such as meditating, reading, making three positive observations, and diet, using Lift.

What Did He Learn?
Everything Adam learned is based on his ability to access and export his data for further analysis. From his cycling trip he was able to make a simple map to showcase how far he traveled based on Google location history (which did have some issues with accuracy). He also was able to see that he traveled 1,004 miles, cycled for 90 hours, burned 52,000 calories, but didn’t lose any weight.

Using his updated lifelogging system, he was able to explore his inhaler use and after a visit to the doctor was able to “find out a boring correlation” that a preventative inhaler works and his exercise induced inhaler usage went to almost zero.

Finally, because Lift supports a robust data export, Adam was able to analyze his habit data and began answering questions he was interested in, but aren’t available in the native app experience. He found that seeing a visualization of his streaks as a cumulative graph was inspiring and motivating. He also explored his failures and found that Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays were the days he was most likely to fail at completing at least one of his habits.

Slides of this talk are available on Adam’s GitHub page here.

Tools
Google Location History, Garmin GPS, Lifelogger, Lift, Photos, Notes

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Mark Leavitt: Whipping up My Willpower

When we decide to track one thing, we sometimes find that we are indirectly tracking something else.  That is the theme of today’s talk.

When Mark Leavitt was 57, he found out that he had heart disease, a condition that runs in his family. Mark set about making some life changes. He tracked his weight while adopting a low-fat diet. His tracking showed him that he was making progress and that progress encouraged him to keep tracking. But once Mark’s weight loss stalled and then started to backslide (though he had maintained his diet) his desire to track dwindled and was then snuffed out by a major life event.

Though he was ostensibly tracking weight, this experience gave him some insight into his motivation. He began to build a mental model of his willpower. When was it strong? When was it weak? Using his background as a doctor to make assumptions on the nature of his willpower, he used the tracking of other lifestyle changes, such as movement and strength-training, to test those assumptions and better understand how to follow through on his intentions.

Watch below to see what Mark found worked for him and if you would like to see how Mark’s keeping up with his habits, you can check out his live dashboard here.

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QS NYC Meetup Recap

This guest post comes to us from Konstantin Augemberg who covers many interesting Quantified Self topics and his personal tracking experience on the wonderful MeasuredMe blog.  

On Monday, September 30, Quantified NYC group has held its 23th meetup. The event was graciously hosted by Projective Space which offers collaborative community space to over 60 startups. With over a hundred people in attendance, interesting demos and inspiring presentations (quantifying Starcraft gaming skills, predicting choice of clothes based on weather forecast, and other self-quantified awesomeness!), it turned out to be a great evening. Here is my brief report on what I saw and loved:

We started with our Demos session during which QS entrepreneurs showcased their products and services:

  • David Joerg (@dsjoerg) presented his GGTracker, web service that uses advanced analytics to help Starcraft players to track their stats and quantify and improve gaming skills
  • Paula Murgia presented Personal Beasties app that helps people to cope with anxiety, fatigue and stress by using simple breathing exercises
  • Stefan Heeke (@Stefan_Heeke) showcased My Online Habits, a webapp that uses Gmail and Google data to help analyze your productivity and communications habits
  • Mike McDearmon (@Mike_McDearmon) demoed an awesome online dashboard that he built to visualize his outdoors activities.

Steven Dean (@sgdean) also introduced the audience to our new co-organizer, Amy Merrill. Amy will be in charge of QSXX NYC group that will be organizing meetups for women in NYC area.

The Show & Tell session was opened by Mette Dyhrberg (@mettedyhrberg) and her “The Pomodoro Recovery” presentation. Following the bouncing castle accident, Mette has been diagnosed with concussion and was recommended to rest and avoid using electronic devices in order to recover. She started tracking her symptoms, diet, and resting and working habits using Pomodoro method and Mymee app. The lack of progress has prompted her to look at her tracking data, after which she realized that she may have been misdiagnosed. The visit to another doctor has revealed that she sustained a neck injury, which luckily, could be fixed right on the spot. The treatment procedure helped her to feel better almost immediately. You can watch Mette’s presentation here.

In “Quantifying What to Wear”, Andrew Paulus (@andrewcpaulus) shared how he used self-tracking to measure impact of weather on his choice of clothes. It started when Andrew noticed that one of his morning habits included checking weather on his phone in order to decide what to wear on that day. That led to an idea to measure efficiency of this process, by tracking his choice of clothes and then assessing at the end of the day, if the choice was correct. His first attempt at quantifying weather and wardrobe was unsuccessful, due to some flaws in methodology and measurement (e.g., the weather data was collected at different times of the day; the clothes data was not very well structured). Andrew then has revised the methodology, by subscribing to more reliable and comprehensive weather data from Farmer’s Almanac, and logging wardrobe data in a more consistent manner. His girlfriend kindly agreed to co-participate in this experiment. After six months of tracking, Andrew looked at their data. He found that the overall, he tended to be slightly more accurate in choosing what to wear, compared to his girlfriend: his accuracy rate was 78%, vs. her rate of 74%. Another interesting finding was that his choices were more weather appropriate. The correlation between the clothes and weather was nearly 0.7 for him, and nearly 0 .1 for his girlfriend, which suggests that her choices are often influenced by many other factors, not just weather. You can see the full presentation here.

Amy Merrill (@amyjmerrill) shared her experiences with “Sleep Tracking with Jawbone Up”. Since April 2013, she has been tracking her sleep (deep sleep phase, in particular) using Jawbone Up, as well as social and work related activities using Google Calendar. By analyzing the patterns in her data, she was able to see how certain activities affect her deep sleep. In particular, she learned that more physical activity and sleep deprivation led to more deep sleep, where as restful days tend to result in more light sleep. Certain social activities like attending wedding and taking trips on tour bus have also had a considerable impact on quality of her sleep. For the next phase, she plans to include some aspects of the diet, including consumption of alcohol, caffeine and over-the-counter drugs. You can watch Amy’s presentation here.

The session was concluded by Andrew Tarvin’s (@HumorThatWorks) funny and inspiring presentation “The Perfect Day”, in which he discussed the tracking system that he used to build some new habits. Andre has been rating each day based on the number of goals that he achieved (e.g., waking up without snoozing the alarm, do something active for 20+ minutes, eat at least 4 fruites a day, etc.) The days with at least 3 goals met were defined as “quality days”, and the days with all 5 goals accomplished were rated as “perfect”. Andre learned that the strive for perfection was the most demotivating factor: missing one goal earlier in the day often resulted in giving up on all other habits as well. Waking up without snoozing was the most influential habit in that regard. He also learned that the “streaks” of quality and perfect days was the most motivational factor; once he had several consecutive successful days in a row, it was much easier to continue meeting the goals. Andre has been using this system for three years, and plans to continue using it to acquire new habits. You can read more about his system on his site. You can watch video of the presentation here.

As always, before and after the sessions, I had a chance to mingle and meet a lot of interesting people. Special shout out to Stefan Heeke, Mike McDearmon, Sylvia Heisel, Michael Moore and Dave Comeau.

 

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Stan James on Tracking Habits

Stan James finds comfort in his daily habits.So much so, that he found that he kept adding to his routine. He started out by just using physical reminders, but found that tracking tools like Equinimity (meditation) and 750 Words (writing) added a little extra boost. In August of 2012 he started using Lift, a habit tracking mobile and web application. In this great talk, Stan explains what he’s learned from his 14 months of habit tracking. (filmed at the Bay Area QS Meetup).

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Justin Fu on 15 Weeks of Self-Tracking

At the last San Francisco QS meetup group event, Justin Fu shared the story of how he lost 40 pounds in 15 weeks using the Fitbit, how tracking affected his relationships, and how he developed a slew of new habits. Check out his inspiring story in the video below.

Justin Fu – 15 Weeks of Self Tracking – 40 Pounds Lost from Gary Wolf on Vimeo.

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Robby MacDonell: Are goals bad for forming habits?

Robby MacDonell from RescueTime tried many different tools to form habits, and didn’t find that any of them worked. After a good deal of frustration, he started to investigate the idea of having goals at all. In this great talk, Robby honestly shows data that isn’t pretty – hooray! He also shares some really interesting insights on how to make the process of behavior change gentler, from personal and system design perspectives. (Filmed by the Seattle QS Show&Tell meetup group.)

Robby MacDonell – Are goals bad for forming habits? from David Reeves on Vimeo.

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Nick Crocker: Floss the Teeth You Want To Keep

Nick Crocker‘s QS journey started with his dentist telling him, “Floss the teeth you want to keep!” Nick tells the story below of how he spent five years figuring out how to implement changes in his life, and how hard it was to add this habit to his routine. He also shares, Ignite-style, ten lessons he learned to make change easier. (Filmed by the New York QS Show&Tell meetup group.)

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