Saturday, February 13, 2010

How To Count Your Day

I have been making an attempt to record my day. I'm doing this for a number of reasons. I want to know how my moods change through the day, when I'm happy or not, when I'm feeling motivated, and when I'm being productive.

To facilitate this, I have a spreadsheet on Google Docs called "Daily Me" and I've built two sheets. One tracks daily and one tracks hourly. This is what I'm tracking.

Daily:
  • When I wake up
  • Weight
  • How many of my morning exercises did I do?
  • How many of the things I want to do every day did I do? This includes morning pages, sketching, picking up my guitar, reading, and writing.
  • When I go to sleep
Hourly:
  • Mood
  • What am I doing right now?
  • 1-10 scales on how happy, depressed, energetic, and motivated I feel at the moment
  • "Productive" which I mark yes or no. I consider being "productive" doing whatever it is I feel I should be doing right then. This is the thing I try to keep in the green and use everything else to improve.
You might think this could get disruptive. I don't have to do it hourly, so that is only a maximum. I use KAlarm, and your OS has or can have another app for reminders. Every hour it launches a Spreadsheet Form in a new window to let me enter things and get back to whatever I'm doing.

I use this for other daily things. It asks me every day if I've done my exercises, tells me when to check my e-mail (not so I remember to, but so I don't check it too often), and other things.

Overall, I find this is helpful. I like being kept honest, even if its just with myself. I pay more attention to if I'm doing what I should be doing at any given moment, but I don't have to put too much into it and get distracted from those very things. Later, I can look back and find patterns. Even without looking into it deeply, filling it out and thinking about what's going on and how its affecting my day to day helps me improve my understanding of myself and how to do more with every day of my life.

5 comments:

Peter B Marks said...

How do you record when you went to sleep?

srid said...

For internally keeping track of mood, I use this (reminds me every 10 mins). For recording sleeping patterns, I use a pretty smart Android app that uses the accelerometer to detect your sleep times (if the phone is not moved for, say, more than 2 hrs - the you must be sleeping).

Calvin Spealman said...

@Peter I fall asleep quickly enough and count being in bed as restful, so I enter it as when I got to bed. I add a half hour, for example, if I spent some time reading or talk with the wife.

@srid every 10 minutes seems a bit frequent, but I'll keep using KAlarm because its only one of many reminders.

Mike De La Loza said...

Hi Calvin, I liked your post. I'm working on a similar problem.

myle said...

Great post Calvin!

I have started tackling this problem using my current from 22/1. It is very good to have some input about what other people do in similar situations.

My first attempt was using KOrganizer . I tried to synchronize it with Google Docs using Akonadi but it didn't help a lot. I wasted too much time on the computer while I need to have access to that with the computer turned off.

KAlarm is useful to remind me some things like call someone, reply to an email etc... Little things that are popping without any prior notice and have to be scheduled immediately.

Kmail has a really useful feature. Filters and folders. Using filters I have all the mails from mailing list to seperate folders without "acting on new mail". I use another folder for all mails that imply further action to do. This is the default folder of kmail.

I ported the schedule to a real table with dates (numbers 1-32 with one blank row). I use a real calendar where I write a review of the day and this to do in the next days in the margins of the corresponding day.

Your idea of keeping track of your mood each hour on the computer is useful. A little side comment reviewing what you did during that time would be useful too. A positive side-effect: Reminds you to take a break.

Keeping track of the time you sleep is useful too. Sleep too late usually means procrastination. Wake up too late usually is the side-effect. Working is an exception.

Could you provide more details about how do you keep track of your day?
Talk is cheap, show me the code.

I write here about programming, how to program better, things I think are neat and are related to programming. I might write other things at my personal website.

I am happily employed by the excellent Caktus Group, located in beautiful and friendly Carrboro, NC, where I work with Python, Django, and Javascript.