This year, I decided to take a slightly different approach to a New Year's Resolution, and left it purposely open ended. I simply want 2016 to be better. To that end, I've decided to conduct "monthly reviews" in which I will look over what I've tracked and try to make sense of any progress I'm making towards my various goals. I'm journaling more detailed reviews for myself, but decided that sharing edited versions of them publicly would be a good way to hold myself accountable for continuing to do them. It will probably take a few months to work out how these posts will be formatted, so bear with me as I figure this out!

Some Numbers

One of the keys to these reviews is looking over my month "by the numbers". I measure quite a few aspects of my life so I have a lot available to me when it comes to trying to make improvements. Some key measurements this month:

  • Rescuetime Productivity Pulse of 45 (114.5 hours logged)
  • Average of 7h 24m of sleep each night
  • Average calorie consumption of 2,392/day
  • Averaging 5,127 steps/day
  • Read 1.5 books
  • Wrote 2 blog posts
  • Read at least 10 pages of a book 17/31 days

Looking at how these compare to last year's averages, this month is a bit of a mixed bag. Productivity-wise I dropped 10 points which feels like a bummer, and I'm eating an average of 167 fewer calories per day (and since I want to gain weight this isn't helping me). I also walked more than 2,000 steps/day less than last year's average.

All of these drops are easily explained by the fact that I spent the first half of the month on vacation and very liberally enjoyed my down time to do basically nothing. Being on vacation also explains the extra sleep - about 40 more minutes on average compared to last year.

Digging a Little Deeper

Numbers are great, but what's more interesting is the relationships between these things, which is where Exist comes in. I also use Exist as a sort of micro-journal, rating my day every night before bed on a 1 to 5 scale and writing a short note about the day.

While Exist doesn't let me target data from just this month (as one month's data isn't enough to surface any meaningful relationships), it is useful, I think, to look for interesting relationships each month to see how they're changing. Exist is able to find correlations between certain pieces of data and reports how strongly correlated they are. While I didn't systematically review them all (there's a lot!), I did pick out a few that I found sort of interesting:

  • I have a better day when I walk more (21% correlated)
  • My weight is higher after I'm more productive (44%)
  • I’m more productive when I spend more time active (39%), when I get more steps (34%), and when the day is warmer (22%)
  • I use Tweetbot more when I’m more productive (41%) and I log more distracting time when I’m more productive (39%)

These are just correlations so remember, correlation does not equal causation. While I tend to report a better mood on days I walk more, it's not necessarily the walking that makes me feel better. I know for a fact that I walk more on days when I'm more active on campus, so it could be something I do on days I'm busier that make me feel better about my day.

I also don't believe it is possible that logging distracting time could cause me to be more productive, but it is likely a reflection of the fact that I typically work in small sprints and take frequent 5-10 minute breaks between tasks.

What is interesting here though is that when I am being productive, my activity of choice seems to be Twitter (Tweetbot). This is probably a result of Tweetbot constantly being open on my computer, always providing fresh tweets for my viewing pleasure. I also have been known to tweet about things I'm working on, or tweet in class (e.g. this tweet or this tweet).

What to Focus on in February

The end of January brought some challenges with adjusting to my new schedule of classes and work, but by the middle of this month I should fall into a natural rhythm. February is going to have some better numbers simply because I can't be a lazy turd on vacation anymore.

What I really want to focus on this month is building my reading habit of reading at least 10 pages a day, and continuing to get a good amount of sleep. Catching up on sleep was nice during vacation, and I've managed to get at least 7 hours a night even now that classes have started, which I'd like to continue.

I’d also like to write a couple more blog posts, so if I can manage to publish three blog posts this month (either on my own blog or elsewhere), that would be great. January saw my New Year's post and a post about routines for the Academic Support Center at RIT. I guess February is off to a solid start with this one.

Well, that's all for this month. Definitely feel like I need to work out more of the formatting for these monthly reviews to cut them down a little, but thanks for reading this far! Let me know what you think of these reviews and how I can make them more interesting.