> Hello
> My name is Julian
> This is my lifelog
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My Quantified Self Setup

The number one question I get asked on Twitter these days is how I get the data for my media consumption posts and quantified self reports. So I thought I’d dedicate this week’s post to explain my tracking setup.

I got into self tracking in the early 2000s when I first discovered HistoryStats – a Miranda plugin that gave me interesting statistics about my messaging behavior (who I talked most often to, what words I used the most, etc). A few years later, Audioscrobbler (which is now last.fm) allowed me to get similar statistics about my music habits. I also started to keep logs of books and movies that I had read and seen.

Inspired by the work of Nicholas Felton, I later began to quantify all sorts of other activities. My 2013 Quantified Self report – my most comprehensive tracking project so far – included data such as: How much I walked, drank, ate and slept. How many people I talked to. How many buildings I entered. I even tracked how much time I spent in the shower and brushing my teeth.

At the beginning, I always carried a little notebook around with me to write down things as they happened, but over time I got into the habit of simply being more present and remembering the core activities I wanted to track, so I could digitize them later. Even activities such as reading books I now consciously quantify and memorize while I’m doing them.

I currently use an Airtable spreadsheet for the vast majority of my QS activities, which I update about once or twice a day.

My 2020 tracking sheet looks like this: I have 10 spreadsheet tabs – one for each tracking category. These include Sleep, Wellbeing, Fitness, Work, Media, Drink, Food, Social, Travel and Screen Time.

Each tab then has a variety of metrics that I update on a daily basis. This is my current structure:

Sleep 🌙
  ↳ Bed Time (hh:mm)
  ↳ Wake Up Time (hh:mm)
  ↳ Perceived Sleep Quality (1-5 rating)
  ↳ Sleep Location
     ↳ City (single select)
     ↳ Location type (single select: home/hotel/…)
  ↳ Nightmares (y/n)
  ↳ ██████ ██

Wellbeing 🙏
  ↳ Perceived Happiness (1-5 rating)
  ↳ Perceived Stress (1-5 rating)
  ↳ Perceived Overall Healthiness (1-5 rating)
  ↳ How Worried am I About the Future? (1-5 rating)
  ↳ Perceived Backpain (1-10 rating)
  ↳ Illnesses (multi-select)
  ↳ ██████ ██
  ↳ ███ ███

Fitness 💪
  ↳ Meditation (hh:mm)
  ↳ Back Exercise (y/n)
  ↳ Stretching (y/n)
  ↳ Swimming
     ↳ Swim distance (meters)
     ↳ Swim time (hh:mm)
  ↳ Push-ups (number)
  ↳ Plank (duration in minutes)
  ↳ Other Sports
     ↳ Sport (single select)
     ↳ Duration (hh:mm)

Work 💼
  ↳ Start Time (hh:mm)
  ↳ End Time (hh:mm)
  ↳ Work Type (single select: work/writing/…)
  ↳ Work Location (single select: home/office/coworking/…)
  ↳ Perceived Productivity (1-5 rating)
  ↳ Perceived Job Happiness (1-5 rating)

Media Consumption 📚
  ↳ Kindle Books
     ↳ Book Title (single select)
     ↳ Reading Time (hh:mm)
  ↳ Physical Books
     ↳ Book Title (single select)
     ↳ Reading Time (hh:mm)
  ↳ Audio Books
     ↳ Book Title (single select)
     ↳ Reading Time (hh:mm)
  ↳ Podcasts
     ↳ Podcast Show (single select)
     ↳ Podcast Episode (single select)
     ↳ Listening Time (hh:mm)
  ↳ TV
     ↳ TV Show (single select)
     ↳ TV Episode (single select)
     ↳ Watch Time (hh:mm)
  ↳ Soccer
     ↳ Teams (multi-select)
     ↳ Goals (number)
     ↳ Watch Time (hh:mm)
  ↳ Movies
     ↳ Movie (single select)
     ↳ Watch Time (hh:mm)
  ↳ Games
     ↳ Game (single select)
     ↳ Play Time (hh:mm)

Drinks ☕️
  ↳ Filter-based Coffee (number)
  ↳ Espresso-based Coffee (number)
  ↳ Beer (ml)
  ↳ Wine (number of glasses)
  ↳ Non-alcoholic Drinks
     ↳ Drink (single select)
     ↳ Amount (ml)
  ↳ Alcoholic Drinks
     ↳ Drink (single select)
     ↳ Amount (ml)

Food 🍕
  ↳ Breakfast
     ↳ Dish (multi-select)
     ↳ Location (single select)
  ↳ Lunch
     ↳ Dish (multi-select)
     ↳ Location (single select)
  ↳ Dinner
     ↳ Dish (multi-select)
     ↳ Location (single select)
  ↳ Pizza (number of slices)
  ↳ Meat Consumption (multi-select: beef/pork/…)
  ↳ Fish Consumption (multi-select: salmon/tuna/…)
  ↳ Perceived Healthiness (1-5 rating)

Social 👫
  ↳ In-person Conversations
     ↳ Partner (y/n)
     ↳ Close Friends (y/n)
     ↳ Friends / Acquaintances (y/n)
     ↳ Co-worker (y/n)
     ↳ Other (y/n)

Travel 🚗
  ↳ Did I use this mode of transport today?
     ↳ Plane (y/n)
     ↳ Car (y/n)
     ↳ Subway (y/n)
     ↳ Taxi (y/n)
     ↳ Tram (y/n)
     ↳ Train (y/n)
     ↳ Bus (y/n)
     ↳ Scooter (y/n)
     ↳ Boat (y/n)
     ↳ Other (y/n)

Screen Time 📱
  ↳ Total Phone Screen Time (hh:mm)
  ↳ Time Spent in Social Apps (hh:mm)
  ↳ Phone Pickups (number)
  ↳ Notifications Received (number)

While this might sound like a lot of work, it doesn’t actually take a lot of time to fill out the sheet each day. I probably spend less than 5 minutes per day in my Airtable spreadsheet.

In addition to my tracking sheet, there are a few metrics that are calculated (semi) automatically:

Number of Articles Read
Whenever I finish reading an article I add it to Pocket with a specific tag. Every article (title, URL) then automatically gets added to another Airtable spreadsheet via IFTTT.

Music Behavior
Last.fm tracks every song I listen to.

Fitness and Sleep Data
I have a Fitness Alta that tracks the number of steps I take and how active I am. It also tells me how long and well I slept.

Location Data
I check into every single place I visit with Swarm. I also have constant location tracking turned on in Google Maps, Gyroscope and Zenly. None of these always-on services is particularly great – I really miss Moves App.

Screen Time
I use Screen Time on my iPhone and RescueTime on my laptop. I wish Apple would release a Screen Time API so that I didn’t have to manually copy data from the app to Airtable.

Air Quality
The Plume Flow 2 is the latest addition to my quantified self setup. This is a mobile air pollution sensor that measures Particulate Matter (PM1, PM2.5, PM10), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and nitrous oxides (NO2).

I’m thinking about upgrading to a newer fitness tracker with a heart rate monitor or a more sophisticated sleep tracker like the Oura Ring. It would also be interesting to move to a sort of tracking bot that randomly asks me questions through-out the day (see Felix Krause’s LifeSheet or Reporter app) to avoid peak-end bias.

Eventually, I’d also like to build a dashboard that combines my Airtable spreadsheet with my yearly goals and gives me real-time reminders and statistics about my routines and habits – but this is for another article.

If you have thoughts or questions about my setup, I’d love hear them.

× DATE: Sun, Feb 23, 2020
× TIME: 6:26:56 pm
× LOCATION: Berlin, DE (52.4983444, 13.4065790)
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