Tag Archives: productivity

QS Gallery: David El Achkar

We thought it would be nice to post David’s 138 days of activities visualization here. Make sure to watch his talk from the 2013 QS Global Conference to learn how he created this and what he’s learned from tracking his time.

This is my life during the past six months. Each square = 15 minutes. Each column = 1 day. This picture represents 138 days or 3,000+ activities.
- David El Achkar

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David El Achkar on Tracking Time

When David El Achkar made a big change in his life, transitioning out of his consultant role, he started wondering how the lack of daily structure would affect how he spent his time. He decided to tackle this question and start tracking his activities. In the video that follows David explains how he accomplishes this by using a Google calendar and a specific formatting system. He also elaborates on a few key insights about where his time goes and what he’e learned about his productivity. After you watch the video make sure to check out David’s website, where he’s done a great job explaining his findings.

We’ll be posting videos from our 2013 Global Conference during the next few months. If you’d like see talks like this in person we invite you to join us in Amsterdam for our 2014 Quantified Self Europe Conference on May 10 and 11th.

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Robby Macdonell on Tracking 8,000 Screen Hours

Productivity tracking is nothing new. People have been keeping checklists and marking off to do’s for ages. But what about all the little stuff that gets thrown in during the day? For the last six years Robby Macdonnell has been tracking his productivity and how he spends his time on his various computers (home and work) and even how he uses phone. Over those years he’s amassed 8,300 hours of screen time. Watch his great talk to hear what’s he learned about his work habits, productivity and how he’s come to think about time.

We’ll be posting videos from our 2013 Global Conference during the next few months. If you’d like see talks like this in person we invite you to join us in Amsterdam for our 2014 Quantified Self Europe Conference on May 10 and 11th.

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QS Gallery: Nick Winter

Nick Winter is a tracker, self-experimenter, and builder of popular tools (like Quantified Mind). Nick sent us this amazing visualization of his percentile feedback system he uses to keep track of his work efficiency.

My percentile feedback graph of my development productivity helps my motivation
-Nick Winter

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Stan James on Project Life Slice

Last December, Stan James started to wonder how much of every day he spent staring at glowing rectangles, and how he was spending that time. He set up his webcam to take a picture of himself every hour, as well as a screenshot of what he’s working on. In the video below, Stan talks about how he set up his project, shows some of his data, and reveals some interesting tidbits about his learnings. (Filmed by the Bay Area QS Show&Tell meetup group.)

Stan James – Project Life Slice from Gary Wolf on Vimeo.

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Nick Winter on Productivity Tracking using Percentile Feedback

Nick Winter was inspired by Seth Roberts to track his productivity. He uses the method of percentile feedback, which compares his current productivity to past productivity as he goes about the hours of his days. Nick uses it to help prioritize his work projects, and he gives a short talk about his experience below. (Filmed by the Pittsburgh QS Show&Tell meetup group.)

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Adam Loving on Featbeat

Adam Loving wanted a very lightweight way to track what he did each day, without tweeting it to the world. He built a simple system where he can tell Siri what he did, and it gets recorded in a database. Some data gets automatically entered through if this then that. Adam found that it has motivated him to continue his pushup/situp routine, and keeping his system simple has helped him uncover some funny problems for future improvement. (Filmed by the Seattle QS Show&Tell meetup group.)

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Buster Benson: How I Use RescueTime

Buster Benson of Habit Labs likes to experiment with productivity, among other things. He uses RescueTime to see which apps and websites he spends the most time on each week. The winners are his text editor (for coding) and Gmail. In the video below, Buster talks about the ease of different kinds of tracking, from passive to binary to active entry, and previews some some Habit Labs apps. The folks from RescueTime are also present, adding to the audience discussion. (Filmed by the Seattle QS Show&Tell meetup group – first video from them!)

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Percentile Feedback Update

In March I discovered that looking at a graph of my productivity (for the current day, with a percentile attached) was a big help. My “efficiency” — the time spent working that day divided by the time available to work — jumped as soon as the new feedback started (as this graph shows). The percentile score, which I can get at any moment during the day, indicates how my current efficiency score ranks according to scores from previous days within one hour of the same time. For example, a score of 50 at 1 p.m. means that half of the previous days’ scores from noon to 2 p.m. were better, half worse. The time available to work starts when I get up. For example, if I got up at 4 a.m., at 6 a.m. there were 2 hours available to work. The measurement period usually stops at dinner time or in the early evening.

This graph shows the results so far. It shows efficiency scores at the end of each day. (Now and then I take a day off.) One interesting fact is I’ve kept doing it. The data collection isn’t automated; I shift to R to collect it, typing “work.start” or “work.stop” or “work.switch” when I start, stop, or switch tasks. This is the third or fourth time I’ve tried some sort of work tracking system and the first time I have persisted this long. Another interesting fact is the slow improvement, shown by the positive slopes of the fitted lines. Apparently I am slowly developing better work habits.

The behavioral engineering is more complicated than you might think. My daily activities naturally divide into three categories: 1. things I want to do but have to push myself to do. This helps with that, obviously. 2. things I don’t want to do a lot of but have to push myself away from (e.g., web surfing). 3. things I want to do and have no trouble doing. But the recording system is binary. What do I do with activities in the third category? Eventually I decided to put the short-duration examples (e.g., standing on one foot, lasts 10 minutes) in the first category (counts as work), keeping the long-duration examples (e.g., walking, might last one hour) in the second category (doesn’t count as work).

Before I started this I thought of a dozen reasons why it wouldn’t work, but it has. In line with my belief that it is better to do than to think.

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David Charron on Attention Tracking

Do you have the energy to do everything but the focus to accomplish nothing? David Charron of UC Berkeley studies multi-tasking, distraction and sustainable attention. He has experimented with quantifying his own attention, and compared himself to a long-time meditator. Check out his results and the interesting audience questions in the video below. (Filmed at the Bay Area QS Show&Tell meetup on 3/24/11 at TechShop.)

David Charron – Attention from Gary Wolf on Vimeo.

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