The Dashboard Of My Life
productivity | sports & fitness
David de Souza
Six years ago while at a pub with a group of friends, David de Souza decided he wanted to run a marathon on every single continent. He made it his New Year's resolution, but completely failed. So then he decided to be proactive about this goal and started to track his runs. In this video, he discusses how recording his runs helped him understand which days he was motivated to run, what the distance was, and how many miles he ran. Tracking helped him run his first ever marathon in New York City, which led to the development of a dashboard he created to help keep him on track for his earlier goal, in addition to other goals in his life, as well.
Fitbit | Google Sheets
Six years ago as I was sat in the pub with a group of my friends, I had the alcohol-infused idea of running a marathon on every single continent. So naturally, my New Year's resolution the following year became to run my first ever marathon. But, like a lot of people when it comes to New Year resolutions I completely failed.
I didn't let that failure stop me. In the following year, I started to record my runs. The days of the week that I was feeling motivated to run, the distance I was traveling as well as the number of miles that I was doing. And because of this, the following year I was successful in running my first ever marathon in New York City and checking off North America as the first ever continent in my goals.
So this then led to the development of a dashboard, a dashboard of my life which helps to keep me on track in that goal as well as other areas in my life. I find it interesting that businesses have dashboards which help keep them on track in reaching their profit forecasts. But when it comes to our own lives we don't really have dashboards. And what's more important our life goals, or the goals of the businesses that we work for.
This then led me to develop a dashboard in Google Sheets, Googles free spreadsheet software as it allowed me to input my data on the move using the Google Sheets app. As well as to visualize my performance using bar charts, pie charts, and conditional formatting, as well as automatically syncing my data using the Fitbit API.
Now unlike many of the people that I've already met here at QS17, my technical skills are severely lacking. But what I lack in technical skills, I more than make up for in my ability to outsource. And I have an online business, and so through that I use a company that you might have heard of called Upwork. And with Upwork you can find freelancers and contractors.
And through Upwork I found Alex, a Ukrainian with ninja-like coding skills, who charged me just $4 an hour to create the dashboard. So I provided Alex with a wireframe of what I wanted the dashboard to look like, and within the space of two days, he came back with a working prototype.
The dashboard tracks the key elements in my life, including my activity, my sleep, my productivity, and the number of minutes of meditation that I do on a daily basis. As well as 32 other variables that also have a compounding effect on my life, including the number of calories I consume. The number of alcoholic drinks I drink, and whether I’m doing something on a daily basis that scares me to take me outside of my comfort zone.
So I wanted the dashboard to be the first thing that I saw in the morning as I opened up my laptop, giving me a snapshot of my performance on the previous day, the last week, and the last 30 days as well.
As well as this granular data, I wanted to see the bigger picture as well. So I asked Alex to create a separate tab within the spreadsheet which used conditional formatting. That shows the days that I was successful in achieving my goals for each of the variables in green, and red when I was unsuccessful. This helped to show patterns including when I’m abroad I tend to drink more alcohol, which continues since being here in Amsterdam.
I also wanted to see correlations between two different variables, so Alex created another tab which helped to show this. For example, did the amount of sleep I was getting have an effect on my activity or productivity levels? Within this tab is also a pie chart which shows my performance for a selected variable for each day of the week.
As you would expect on the weekends I consume more calories, I drink more alcoholic drinks. But the interesting thing is on a Tuesday. I'm more productive than any other day, which leads me to no longer schedule calls or have meetings, or go on trips on Tuesday because that's the day I need to get things done.
I wanted to make the dashboard as automated as possible because I didn't want to be typing in data day in and day out and there's a lot of data there. So Alex used the Fitbit API to automatically sync my data from my activity, my sleep, my calorific information as well as my weight.
I have a virtual assistant, who logs into MyFitnessPal every day and takes my protein, fat, and carbohydrate data and manually imports that in. As well as logging into my RescueTime account, which monitors the websites I’ve been on and gives me a score on zero to 100. This then just leaves me with having to input a few data points manually, including the number of miles that I’ve ran, the minutes of meditation that I’ve done, and whether I’ve done something scary.
So what have I learned from all this? Well like a business, location, location, location seems to be key. When I’m at home in my home base, I have a set schedule where I get things done. I eat a lot more healthier.
When I'm in a new city, I want to try those restaurants, and I tend to eat more calories, and going on a run takes a backseat. Secondly, I'm sure we've all heard this hat sleep is very important. For some reason, I didn't think it affected me until I saw the data.
I’m lucky that I don’t have to set an alarm in the morning because I have my own business. However, at night I’ve started to set an alarm. So my Fitbit will start buzzing at nine thirty to remind me, to nudge me to get ready to go to sleep, to get the optimal amount of sleep that night.
The third lesson I learned was that when I go out to eat, I tend to fall off the horse then. I'll consume more calories, I'll eat more meat, and I'll tend to drink more alcoholic drinks. So my solution to that has been when I go out to go to a vegetarian restaurant, there's obviously no meat there, the dishes will be healthier, and I'll offer to be a designated driver because then I'm not going to have more than one or maybe two drinks.
My final lesson is when I batch my tasks you might have seen some days I’m like a productivity machine, I get lots done. Other days I completely fall off the horse. But when I batch my tasks, normally in groups of three I get a lot more done. I get my meditation box breathing and yoga in the morning. In the afternoon, I'll run, I'll go to the gym and do high-intensity training.
If anyone has any comments or suggestions, I’d love to hear them. And if you would like a copy of the dashboard as well as the tutorial in how to input your Fitbit data, it’s on my website as well. So thank you very much.