Tag Archives: Time tracking

QS15 Conference Preview: Jamie Williams on Tracking My Days

On June 18-20 we’ll be hosting the QS15 Conference & Activate Expo in San Francisco at the beautiful facilities at the Fort Mason Center. This will be a very special year with two days of inspiring talks, demos, and discussion with your fellow self-trackers and toolmakers, plus a third day dedicated to the Activate public expo. As we start to fill out our program we’ll be highlighting speakers, discussion leaders, sponsors, and attendees here.

Jamie_bioJamie Williams has been involved with QS for a few years, giving his first show&tell talk at the Chicago QS group in Dec. 2012, and later, after moving to St. Louis, he became a co-organizer of the St. Louis QS group. In the fall of 2014 he gave a fantastic show&tell on exploring his Fitbit data. His  background in software engineering and data visualization has a deep influence on his interests in Quantified Self and self-tracking.

At the QS15 Conference Jamie will sharing his long-standing project to automate the process of continuously tracking what he’s up to during the day. He started out several years ago by building an iPhone app with a UX optimized for continuous tracking, but after using it for a week he found that manual tracking was too tedious and intrusive to be a sustainable solution.

Since then, technology has evolved to the point where it should be possible to automate this tracking using various apps, devices and sensors, whose data can be aggregated together to form a correlated timeline of how I spend my time each day.


A visualization of daily activity data taken with a prototype iPhone app Jamie built.

We’re excited to have Jamie joining us at QS15 and asked him a few questions about himself and what he’s looking forward to at the conference.

QS: What is your favorite self-tracking tool (device, service, app, etc)?

Jamie: I use several apps and devices, but I guess the one that seems most useful at the moment is the Fitbit Charge HR. I particularly like the automated sleep tracking.

QS: What are you most looking forward to at the conference?

Jamie: I’m looking forward to networking with other self quantifiers who are interested in activity/time tracking in particular, and hopefully finding potential avenues for collaboration. I’m also looking forward to learning about new tools that people are building.

QS: What should people come talk to you about at the conference (what are you interests and expertise)?

Jamie: I recently pivoted my career into the healthcare space with a position as a data visualization engineer at a large health system. Before that I was an iOS software engineer. One of the difficult problems in QS is how to aggregate the growing body of data streams to build a unified and coherent story that we can use to gain insight about our lives. I’d love to hear how others are approaching this.

QS: What tools, devices, or apps do you want to see at the conference?

Jamie: I’m really interested in seeing the next generation of biometric tracking tools, for example, blood screening. I’m also curious to learn of any projects centered around information radiators/dashboards for personal QS tracking.

QS: What topic do you think that Quantified Self community is not talking enough about?

Jamie: One of the recurring challenges in this space for any kind of tool or technique is: how to find the sweet spot balance between automated tracking and user engagement? Tracking diet is a good example: I don’t do it because it requires too much manual effort, but would love to have the data. Tracking my financial transactions, on the other hand, is completely automated, which is good, but I have almost no daily engagement with that data. The really hard problem is to find a way to automate data tracking while at the same time presenting the info to the user in a timely and compelling way that can impact their behavior.

Jamie’s session is just one of the many hands-on, up-to-date, expertly moderated sessions we’re planning for the QS15 Global Conference and Exposition.

Register here!

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Sebastien Le Tuan: Tracking Punctuality

Sebastien Le Tuan was chronically late. Only after a candid conversation with his father did he realize what affect this might have on his personal and professional life. In this talk, presented at the Bay Area QS Meetup, Sebastien describes how he started tracking his punctuality and what he learned from the process.

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Ian Billett: Tracking My Time, My Life

The days I use my time wisely are the days when I feel most fuliflled and therefore happy.

Ian Billett stumbled upon our Quantified Self website here and instantly became fascinated by our community of individuals who were learning about themselves through different technology. With his interest piqued, he began to investigate how he could understand himself. He started with a self-designed Excel spreadsheet where he manually tracked every five minutes using his own tagging system. He’s since switched to even more fine-grained tracking, tagging every minute of his life to describe what he was doing and who he was with. In this talk, presented at the London QS meetup group, Ian describes his process and some of his recent findings.

Slides are also available here.

Special thank you to Ken Snyder for his valuable work documenting the talks at QS London.

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What We’re Reading

It’s a long one today, so buckle in and get ready for some great stuff!

The Quantified Self: Bringing Science into Everyday Life, One Measurement at a Time by Jessica Wilson. This piece, from the Science in Society Office at Northwestern University, explores the Quantified Self movement, with a particular focus on the local Chicago QS meetup. Always interesting to see how individuals draw distinctions between self-tracking projects and “real science.”

Diversity of Various Tech Companies By the Numbers by Nick Heer. Recently Apple released data about the diversity of their employee workforce. This marked the last major tech company to publish data about diversity. In this short post Nick takes that data and shows how it compares to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Interested in more than just the big six listed here? Check out this great site for more tech company diversity data (Hat tip to Mark Allen for finding that link!)

Intel Explores Wearables for Parkinson’s Research by Christina Farr, Reuters. Intel is in the news lately based on their interest in developing and using their technological prowess for qs-related activities. In this post/press release, they describe how they’re partnering with the Michael J. Fox Foundation to explore how they can use wearable devices to track and better understand patients with Parkinson’s Disease. It appears they’re also working to get their headphone heart rate tracking technology out to market.

Spying on Myself by Richard J. Anderson. I’m always interested in how people talk to themselves about self-tracking. This short essay describes the tools that Richard uses and why he continues or discontinues using them. His follow up is also a must read.

Dexcom Mac Dance by Kerri Sparling. You know we’re fascinated by the techniques and tools developed and refined by the the diabetes community. In this short post, Kerri highlights the work of Brian Bosh, who developed a Chrome extension to access and download data from Dexcom continuous glucose monitors on a Mac. (Bonus link: Listen to Chris Snider’s great podcast episode where he talks to John Costik, one of the originators of the CGM in the Cloud/Nightscout project.)

The Three-Year Long Time Tracking Experiment by Lighton Phiri. Lighton is a graduate student at the University of Capetown. In 2011 he became curious about how he was spending his time. After installing a time-tracking tool on his various computers, he started gathering data. Recently, after 3 years of tracking, he downloaded and analyzed his data. Read this excellent post to find out what he learned.

Experimenting with Sleep by Gwern. One of our favorite self-experimenters is back with some more detailed analysis of his various sleep tracking experiments. Read on to see what he learned about how caffeine pills, alcohol, bedtime, and wake uptime affects his sleep.

QS Bits and Bobs by Adam Johnson. Adam gave talk at a recent QS Oxford Meetup about his lifelogging and self-tracking, his custom tools for importing data to his calendar, and what he’s learned from his experiences. Make sure to also check out the neat tool he’s developed to log events to Google Calendar.


FuelBand Fibers by Variable. A design team was given Nike FuelBand data from seven different runners and created this interesting visualization of their daily activity.

I don’t Sleep That Well: A Year of Logging When I Sleep and When I’m at Work by Reddit user mvuljlst. Posting on the r/dataisbeautiful subreddit, this user tracked a year of their sleep and location data using Sleepbot and Moves. If you have similar data and are interested in exploring your own visualization the code is also available.

In the City that We Love by Brian Wilt/Jawbone. The data science team at Jawbone continues to impress with their production of meaningful and interesting data visualizations based on data from UP users. In this post and corresponding visualizations they explore the daily patterns of people from around the world. Make sure to read the technical notes!

From the Forum
Export Moves Data to Day One
Understanding Patents – All your transmission data belong to us
Quantified Self, It’s Benefits
Sun Exposure and Vitamin D Levels Wearable Tracker

Want to receive the weekly What We Are Reading posts in your inbox? We’ve set up a simple newsletter just for you. Click here to subscribe.  Do you have a self-tracking story, visualization, or interesting link you want to share? Submit it now!

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Enrico Bertini on Tracking Focused Work

We’ve all come face to face with tracking some aspect of our life only to realize that we’re not quite sure how to get started. Enrico Bertini encountered this roadblock when he began thinking about tracking the amount of time he spends engaging in “focused work.” As an information visualization researcher at NYU he decided on a simple rule that would give him the most accurate data that represented his interests: if it wasn’t tracked then it wasn’t focused work. In this talk, given at the New York QS meetup group, Enrico explains his process and shares his findings (including some great visualizations).

Slides available here.

(Editor’s Note: Enrico also co-hosts a great podcast on data visualization and information design called Data Stories. I highly recommend listening. If you’re looking for a place to start try Episode 17: Data Sculptures.)

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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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Jared Chung on Tracking Time

How do we spend our time?

Jared Chung was curious about how he was spending his days after he transitioned from his role as a consultant into his new startup venture. Inspired by pervious Quantified Self talks he decided to start tracking his time and his daily activities (work, exercise, sleep, etc.) using Google Calendar. This ongoing tracking project has helped him identify how he spends his day and how that compares to his planned activities. Watch this great talk filmed at the QS Boston Meetup to learn more about what Jared learned and how you can get started tracking your time


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Awais Hussain on Keeping Track of Time

Awais Hussain is a student at Harvard, and he found himself asking the age-old question, “Where does my time go?” Using his online calendar Awais started tracking his daily activities. This tracking has given him some interesting insights into how he really works and accomplishes tasks. Watch this great talk to hear more about what Awais learned by keeping track of his time. (Filmed by the Boston QS Meetup Group.)

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