01 October 2014

Month of the Quantified Self

This post is part of a series: The Month of Quantified Self

I have the Holstee Manifesto hanging above my toilet. Not out of disrespect. It’s just in a place I’m guaranteed to see it. The other day I looked at it and realized that there’s a lot of things I’m not very happy about with the way my average day goes. Too much wasted time. Too much time feeling ill or just tired.

On the cusp of a new job it seems like a great time to shake things up and see if I can regain some of the discipline I’ve let slip the last few years. I suppose it’s poetic that I’m turning over a new leaf just as fall hits the west coast.

I know that my odds of success decrease with each new skill I implement but I really want/need to see a dramatic improvement and I’m impatient. If this fails I’ll regroup and try these things one at a time. The reason I think I can do all of these things is that I am half-achieving a lot of them already. I just need to be a little more strict with myself.

The goals are all S.M.A.R.T. and tracking will be a big, important part. In true Data Nerd fashion, by the end of the month I’ll have 30 data points for a dozen or so attributes. Then I can do some really basic analysis to see how I did and how much (if any) improvement there is.

Goals for the month of October:

  1. Goal: Re-start a strict 4HB diet
    • Expected Benefits: Weight loss and improved energy during the day. Also regained free time since it really simplifies food preparation time. Also expect a $$$ savings. Takeout is expensive.
  2. Goal: Meditate: 10 minutes every day.
    • Expected Benefits: Improved emotional state. Clarity in making decisions.
  3. Goal: Reduce Media consumption: No TV shows. 1 movie per week. 3 youtube videos per day.
  4. Expected Benefits: More time to be creative. Better back-health from not laying about all the time.
  5. Goal: Exercise: Yoga 2 times per week, running 2 times per week
    • Expected Benefits: Weight loss and improved emotional state. Better sleep. Less injuries when doing activities for fun.
  6. Goal: Journal/diary One per day.
    • Expected Benefits: Mindfulness and tracking of how I’m doing and feeling day-to-day.
  7. **Goal: Weekly blog posts to update on progress. There will be 5: Oct 5,12,19,26 and November 2.
  8. Goal: Read a chapter of a book before bed.
  9. Expected Benefits: Increase the reading I do every day.

A few tools to help me:

Going tool-crazy is a big trap for me. I end up with so many things tracking and dinging and popping up that I just tend to ignore everything and watch TV.

Tool 1. Instagram

I looked into actual food diaries but for the most part they are too complicated. I don’t want food pictures cluttering up my camera’s memory card either. I’ve started an Instagram of just food pictures. There are two reasons to clutter social media with this:

  1. A lot of the junk I eat is habit-related and almost subconscious. Taking a picture forces me to think about what’s going into me.
  2. I’ll avoid things I wouldn’t want others to see me eat.

Tool 2. Google Docs

I set up a simple spreadsheet so I can track physical metrics like weight, waist size, body fat etc. I set up a second one to track mood and sleep quality. Each one has a form that I have put on my phone’s home screen. The physical one will be done every morning. The emotional one will be done every evening.

Tool 3. Lift

Lift is a really simple app with a great interface that gives you a daily checklist of habits that you are trying to implement.

It’s simple, and the workflow is really nice. It’s also been recommended by loads of people.

Tool 4. Headspace

Not sure if I’ll keep to this one but it’s gotten good reviews. I’ve gotten out of the habit of meditation and I’d like a little help getting back in. It has gotten good reviews and there’s a 10-day free trial so let’s try it and see where it goes.

That’s actually it. Wish me luck. I’ll post at the end regardless and we can see if it succeeded or not.

This post is part of a series: The Month of Quantified Self
  1. Month of the Quantified Self 01 October 2014
  2. FAIL! Well, So much for THAT! 25 October 2014

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