When it comes to quantified self, one question I frequently hear is “how can this data really help me”? It is a good question, especially since there are huge volumes of data about ourselves available, and it may not be obvious how to put it to use. I have used quantified self data to improve my writing, and help get more exercise, but it seems to me there is more I can be doing to use this data to improve.
I had been thinking about this a lot leading up to my birthday last week. As I approached my birthday, I began to think about the general areas of my life that I would like to improve, and see if there was a way that I could take advantage of data to help me make the improvements. So I put together a simple document in which I began to list the following:
- The areas I wanted to improve
- A simple statement or instruction to frame the improvement
- An initial notion for how I might measure the improvement.
I called the document my “Manifesto:43.” I thought it might be interesting to others, so below are the major areas, along with the “instruction” I gave myself to keep in mind.
I have more detailed thoughts and actions in each of these areas, and I’ll tackle them in separate posts over the next few weeks, but for now, here are the major areas I’m looking to improve.
Play with the kids whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Prefer walking over other modes of transportation where practical.
Write every day, even if only for a few minutes.
Make healthy choices.
Make efficient use of online resources. Avoid unnecessary activity.
Use the best tool for the job, but avoid overlapping tools.
Look for opportunities to save more.
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
There are some overarching themes here. These things can be grouped in different ways to reflect overall priorities. For instance, grouping together “Play”, “Disconnect”, “Simplify” and “Relax”, you have what I think of as “family time.” Improving in those four areas helps improve family time. Grouping “Walk”, “Eat”, and “Relax” are all health-related.
For each of these areas, I produced simple examples of actions that I can take to make the improvements I am looking to make. I’ll drill down into those in a separate post. I have also attempted to identify quantifiable ways of measuring the improvements. In some instances (e.g. “play”) it is pretty hard. In others (“walk”, “write”, “save”) it is pretty easy. Some of the actions are one-time and others are ongoing. I’ve already taken some actions and although it is too early to say how well these changes are working, I am pretty happy with my overall framework for thinking about these things.
Stay-tuned for more.