> Hello
> My name is Julian
> This is my lifelog
and digital playground  

Quantified Quarantine Report

01 Intro

It has now been more than six weeks since I have last been to the office. 48 days to be exact. Like everyone else on this planet, I spent the majority of the last few weeks in the confines of my own four walls – with the occasional trip to the supermarket down the road.

Instead of writing yet another “Here are 8 tips to stay productive at home” article, giving you an update on my sourdough skills (hint: good), or my progress with Animal Crossing (hint: not so good), I thought I’d spend some time looking at my Quantified Self data and write up a Quarantine QS Report instead.

The graphs and statistics in this article look at the ten weeks between February 5, 2020 and April 13, 2020. They compare the first five weeks of quarantine with the five weeks before the lockdown.

If you have feedback or questions on anything in this report, give me a shout.

02 Mental Wellbeing

The good news first: So far, the quarantine hasn’t had any negative impact on my mental wellbeing. My reported daily happiness levels have on average remained almost the same (Average: 3.86 → 3.89).

fig 01  Perceived Happiness

My stress levels have decreased by almost 30% since the start of the lockdown (Average: 2.11 → 1.51). I assume that this is due to less in-person meetings.

fig 02  Perceived Stress
03 Physical Wellbeing

While the lockdown didn’t impact my mental wellbeing, it has had a severe impact on my physical wellbeing. My perceived backpain has increased by more than 37% in the last few weeks (Average: 2.69 → 3.69).

fig 03  Perceived Backpain

This is partly due to the lack of a proper desk setup at home – but probably also driven by less physical activity overall. My Fitbit reports a 22% decline in the average amount of steps since the start of quarantine (Daily Average: 10,964 → 8,510).

fig 04  Number of Steps

Even more importantly, covid-19 has killed my 180 weeks swimming streak. I can’t wait until swimming pools are allowed to open again.

fig 05  Swim Distance
04 Movement

Walking and swimming aren’t the only modes of transport impacted by the lockdown – my public transport consumption has also come to an almost complete halt (with the exception of a doctor visit that required it).

fig 06  Number of Rides by Mode of Transport

A positive side effect of spending more time at home is being exposed to less air pollution. The average AQI level of my first five weeks of quarantine was 21% lower than the average of the previous five weeks when things were still normal (Average AQI: 25.26 → 19.91).

fig 07  Average AQI Exposure
05 Media Consumption

Another positive side effect has been the additional time I get to spend reading. My book consumption has quadruplet since the start of the lockdown (Average Daily Reading Time: 15min → 77min).


fig 08  Reading Time

Audio-based forms of media consumption, on the other hand, have seen a decline. My podcast listening time has gone down by almost 40% (Average Daily Listening Time: 23min → 14min).

fig 09  Podcast Listening Time

My music consumption has also decreased by 40% (Average Daily Number of Songs: 23 → 14).

fig 10  Number of Songs Listened To
06 Eating & Drinking

Since I don’t have a coffee machine at home, the number of espresso-based drinks I’ve been consuming has gone down dramatically. Instead, I finally get to use my Chemex and Aeropress more often – resulting in a 231% increase in filter coffee consumption.

fig 11  Coffee Consumption

Apart from the occasional pizza I pick-up at the Italian place in the neighborhood, my food consumption has also almost completely shifted to home-made meals.

fig 12  Number of Meals by Location

Relatedly, my number of Swarm check-ins has also decreased by 56%.

07 Screentime

Being confined to my own home has resulted in more phone screen time (especially social media apps). I now spend an average 151 minutes per day looking at my phone, compared to 131 minutes before the lockdown – a 15% increase.

fig 13  Phone Screentime
Apr 27, 2020  ×  Berlin, DE

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.

Feb 23, 2020  ×  Berlin, DE
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