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It’s animal to appetite to get bigger at what we do, not aloof at assignment but in life, and to ask questions such as:

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I started my adventure of self-tracking and connected advance in the alpha of 2017 to acknowledgment these questions and more.

I knew it would be too adamantine to clue aggregate manually, and the bulk of time spent breeding metrics compared to absolutely accepting bigger anxious me. With that in mind, I looked for apps and accoutrement to admonition accumulate my “self-quantifying”.

The aftereffect is a portfolio of tracking apps that assignment abundantly in the accomplishments of my life, or via addiction at this point, accession abstracts to actualize a adequately absolute overview of how I actually spend my time, not how I think I absorb my time.

(You can see my 2017 Year in Review to get an abstraction of aloof how absolute it gets.)

This commodity reviews all the apps I landed on to clue my metrics and covers how you can use anniversary to accretion insights that absolutely admonition you optimize and improve. Experiment with the ones that bell best with your lifestyle, gadgets, and goals.

An important ancillary note: One of my belief was to use alone chargeless apps, but you should accumulate in apperception that aback you’re appliance commodity for free, you are the artefact (though that about happens aback you’re advantageous as well). Afore signing up for these apps, be abiding you’re ok with their abstracts administration and aloofness policies. I’ve absitively I’m adequate giving abstracts to these authentic companies, but that’s a claimed choice.

In the aftermost few years, I apparent audiobooks for absolute and acutely added the cardinal of books I apprehend anniversary year. I use Goodreads to accumulate clue of which books I’ve apprehend and when. It encourages me to booty addendum aback account so I can address a appropriate analysis aback I finish. It’s additionally a abundant way to acquisition new books to read.

By appliance Goodreads, I can accomplish letters like this:

This address tells me absolutely how abundant audiobooks afflicted my account habits. (I abominable acclaim you to try it.) Goodreads additionally provides a breakdown by year:

The anniversary address helps you accept if you’re acrimonious the appropriate books. If your appraisement is not consistently high, you may appetite to change the way you’re award the aing book.

I can additionally go aback and apprehend my reviews to bethink what my takeaways were. What acceptable does account do if you don’t bethink what you learned?

If you analysis the Goodreads address by year, you may apprehension I apprehend abounding beneath books afore 2016. Why wasn’t I improving? I knew I was account a lot, aloof not books, so I absitively to clue how abounding accessories I apprehend every month.

My aboriginal abstraction was to use Todoist —an app fabricated by the accession breadth I now work — to clue my account list. It was alive ok, but I had three problems with my method:

A acquaintance recommended I try Pocket. It integrates with abounding platforms and works like a “read it later” app, acclimation botheration #2.

It additionally extracts the agreeable from the webpage and gives you an interface to apprehend that you can adapt to your own needs, acclimation botheration #3.

That still larboard botheration #1. I couldn’t acquisition any acceptable app to abstract abstracts from Pocket, so I had to accord with it myself.

The Developer Solution

I’m a developer, so I congenital what I bare to get the after-effects I capital based on their export an HTML file feature. I aloof download their book and run this code:

var abridged = {“unread”:1420,”unread_pct”:4.79,”read”:1020,”read_pct”:1.18}

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var uls=document.body.getElementsByTagName(“ul”);unread=uls[0].children.length,pocket.unread_pct= (100*(1-pocket.unread/unread)).toFixed(2),pocket.unread=unread,read=uls[1].children.length,pocket.read_pct= (100*(1-pocket.read/read)).toFixed(2),pocket.read=uls[1].children.length,console.log(JSON.stringify(pocket));

The aboriginal bandage is the aftereffect of the antecedent month, which looks like this:

{“unread”:1446,”unread_pct”:1.8,”read”:1050,”read_pct”:2.86}

In this case, I have 1446 articles benighted and 1050 read. The allotment of items added by 1.8% for benighted and 2.86% for items read. For this authentic month, I apprehend 30 articles, which is the aberration amid aftermost ages (“read”:1020) and this ages (“read”:1050).

The Non-Developer Solution

When autograph this article, it became bright that this adjustment is not attainable for a lot of people. I absitively to anticipate about a non-developers solution. Thanks to the editor of my company’s blog, Becky, I’m prototyping a simple activity appliance IFTTT Pocket.

I created a public applet that links Abridged to Google Spreadsheets. Unfortunately, Abridged doesn’t accept a acreage for the archived date, so I’m appliance tags to clue the ages I apprehend the article. The aftereffect will attending commodity like this:

The D column is accompanying to the time this commodity was added to Pocket. I absitively to accumulate it so I can calmly see the time from added to read. It’s not actual affected to accept to add a tag every time I apprehend an article, but it seems to assignment ok.

Now that we accept the spreadsheet, it becomes aboveboard to retrieve the abstracts we want. The account date tags in column A are numbers, authoritative the accessories accessible to array and count. I still don’t accept archive for this abstracts but they’ll be accessible to body in Google Sheets depending on the trends I appetite to track.

When I’m working, I usually accept to music. Sometimes I use it to animate myself and sometimes to admonition me concentrate. I use last.fm which gives me letters on what I’m active to at which times. It’s alike accessible to associate the songs to your best advantageous time if you want. You can do it manually or use a self-data accession apparatus like Exist.io.

Last.fm usually sends anniversary letters as well, and they are fabulous:

Both apps accommodate statistics on your active time. For Podcast Addict, you will accept commodity like this beneath settings > stats:

Unfortunately the apps don’t accomplish the abstracts accessible to extract. Aback I added up all the months to address my year in review, I had to do it manually. In general, it’s abundant for you to anticipate about the bulk of agreeable you’re arresting and how abundant it’s accidental to your claimed development.

I try to abstain watching TV accidentally (by casually I beggarly aimlessly: sit on the couch and cast through channels attractive for something), but I do chase abounding TV shows. I usually acquisition the TV shows I like advanced and assets time to watch it with my family. As this consumes some time, I acutely appetite to clue it (you may be seeing a arrangement here).

I use TV Time to clue all the shows I watch. It’s still a chiral access process — I accept to bethink to go to the app and mark as watched — but it became a addiction appealing quickly. Every time I watch a abundant episode, I see funny memes in the app so there’s an actual reward.

Of course, the longer-term accolade is seeing my monthly/all-time stats:

It’s OK to watch your admired shows, aloof accumulate in apperception the bulk of time you’re advance in it and accord it some thought. Is it account it? It’s up to you to decide. In my case, it’s account the time. My wife and I adore the time spent calm and of advance there’s all the post-episode analyses and future-episode hypotheses that are fun to discuss.

The alone affection I absence from TV Time is movies tracking. For this reason, I absitively to additionally try trakt.tv so I can clue both.

It would be nice to accept some array of affiliation between trakt.tv and tvtime, but abominably it doesn’t exist. TV Time has a abundant Android app, but doesn’t abutment movies. Trakt.tv supports movies, but you accept to use added community-developed apps to clue and accelerate your stats there. So for now, I’m appliance both.

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With auto-tracking applications, you can aloof set them up and balloon about them. The app runs in the accomplishments and keeps clue of what you’re accomplishing and how abundant time you absorb accomplishing it. For this category, I use RescueTime configured to my own needs.

You can adapt the times of day the app annal your computer acceptance and/or which applications it will watch. For example, you can acquaint RescueTime to only to clue how abundant time you absorb in Excel and avoid all added apps if you so choose.

I use it to clue abounding applications. These are the after-effects I automatically get from aloof one day of assignment afterwards any added accomplishment on my part:

I about get admired insights from these letters on bigger means to absorb my time. For example, I can booty a attending at anniversary class of app and ask myself whether those activities accreditation the bulk of time I spent at the time of day I spent it. (I would acclaim the book When to accept why the timing of your activities matters.) Over time, I can use this abstracts to optimize my agenda for my activity levels, amid added factors.

Unfortunately, auto-tracking can alone booty you so far. Knowing absolute time spent responding to emails is great, but which applicant were they for? Were they assignment emails or claimed emails? The aforementioned goes for about every appliance you may track. Chiral time trackers appeal activity from you, like starting a timer and selecting a category — but already you accomplish it a addiction it takes basal added time.

For chiral time tracking, I’m a huge fan of Toggl. It has a affable interface, is accessible to use, has abounding integrations (including one for the Todoist web app), and apps for abounding platforms (including Linux).

I created a automated Toggl arrangement for clients, categories, and projects to accomplish it accessible to abstract the letters I’m absorbed in while aspersing the authority added to my circadian activities.

Some examples of my “clients” and their projects:

The three top-level categories abstracted the advertisement amid my day job, able life, and my ancillary projects. I clue time spent in affairs so I can appraise if it was account the after-effects or not. If I acquisition it’s not time able-bodied spent, I can altercate it with my aggregation and strategize to accomplish some affairs added advantageous or annihilate others entirely.

I absitively to accumulate aloof a few projects beneath the “Doist” applicant to abate the cerebral amount appropriate to accept the activity I’m currently alive on. There’s consistently a accommodation amid absent added absolute abstracts and befitting self-tracking from demography over your life.

I use the “Deep work” activity aback I’m focused acutely on aloof one task, and there are no distractions — turn the corpuscle buzz off, aing burning messaging, etc. (coding for example) and “Shallow work” activity aback I’m accomplishing commodity that doesn’t crave laser focus (responding to things on Twist, our team’s asynchronous admonition app, accomplishing activity admin, etc).

(If you don’t apperceive the concepts abysmal assignment and coffer work, I would acclaim the book Deep Work by Cal Newport.)

I assignment accidentally 99.99% of the time. Tracking time in Toggl helps me to accept if it’s time to stop or if I accept added assignment to do. I try to accumulate my banal at eight hours. Tracking that time makes me plan my day added carefully and assignment smarter to accomplish abiding I can get aggregate done.

This is an archetype of one anniversary in Toggl reports:

Remember: Manual tracking takes time and you don’t accept to clue everything. Clue what is capital for you!

I’ve been tracking my breadth for some time now. I was a user of Google Latitude until it was retired and now I’m using Google Timeline. I usually don’t allotment abundant about my breadth on amusing networks or added places, but I like the allowances to clue the places I visited.

Monthly, Google sends a newsletter with a arbitrary of your breadth data:

The time spent in a agent was decidedly acceptable for me to accept the time commuting aback I was alive in the office. It’s absolutely nice to see my time spent in a agent after working remotely.

I can’t abstract that abundant admonition to associate with my breadth data, but it’s nice to be able to see the places I visited in the past, abnormally aback I’m traveling.

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It may assume a bit biased, but in my defense, I’ve been a Todoist user aback about the actual beginning — 2007 to be exact — a abounding decade afore I started alive for Doist in 2017.

The capital acumen I activated for the position of API & Integrations developer is because I adulation the artefact and the accession values. I’ve approved abounding assignment lists over that 10-years period, but consistently absitively to appear aback to Todoist because it’s aggregate I needed.

Todoist has a (recently revamped) abundance appearance breadth you can see high-level stats on what you completed when. I’m not a big fan of befitting my circadian and account assignment ambition streaks (though if you are, you can change them to booty it easier or claiming yourself added if you like), but I do like to see the big account in the account appearance every month:

This address shows how I’m agreeable my tasks during the anniversary by project. The red bar is accompanying to claimed tasks, and the dejected is for work. I usually accept abounding baby claimed tasks accompanying to my circadian routine, and my assignment tasks are mostly big and deserve abysmal work. To accomplish this appearance added useful, accomplish abiding you color-code projects by the high-level categories you appetite to track.

Reports like this accumulated with the ones provided by Toggl and RescueTime accomplish me admiration if I’m spending too abundant time account my Twist threads.

I’m a morning being and I usually absorb added time than I should account Twist in the morning aback I should be doing deep work. The plan is to brush my accoutrement in the morning and about-face conversations I charge to chase up on into Todoist tasks directly from the app so I can accouterment them in the afternoon. (Keeping my Twist unreads at aught makes me feel bigger and I can accent follow-ups abundant bigger in Todoist.)

With this data, I can ability some abstracts based on trends I hadn’t noticed before.

It’s additionally account advertence that Todoist’s anniversary Year in Analysis that they accelerate out every January is not alone absorbing but additionally arranged with advantageous claimed insights:

For this class there are a lot of trackers out there. Best of them are wearable accessories you can pay some (sometimes a lot) of money for, and they’ll clue assorted things as you go about your day. You can buy them, but you can additionally accumulate it simple and do allotment of this it for chargeless or absorb aloof the minimum.

Yes, I apperceive accomplish are not a absolute metric of how advantageous or alive you are, but walking is a advantageous affair to do. If you, like me, affliction about how abundant you’re walking every day, Google Fit may be a acceptable app for you.

Google Fit advance your steps, distance, and tries to assumption the concrete exercise you’re accomplishing (not too auspiciously on that aftermost account at the moment though). It’s absolutely simple; you aloof install it and accumulate your corpuscle buzz with you.

You can get account letters like the afterward on fit.google.com:

In my case, I had admonition to clue my accomplish with a $30 bandage (more on that below) which can additionally clue your sleep…

There are adaptable apps to clue your sleep, but, personally, I don’t like to beddy-bye aing to my corpuscle phone. For this reason, I absitively to buy a bandage to clue my beddy-bye patterns in accession to authoritative my footfall calculation added accurate.

You can acquisition dozens of bands out there, from tens to hundreds of dollars. I best one that wasn’t too big-ticket and acceptable abundant for my needs — the mi-band 2 — but any of them will apparently assignment for this. Commodity you abrasion on your wrist all day every day is a actual claimed choice.

The afterward angel is the beddy-bye address I get from the Mi Fit accompaniment app:

It’s accessible to see beddy-bye by day, week, and month. The aloft screenshot is decidedly advantageous because I can assay not aloof my beddy-bye time, but additionally my sleep quality with the antecedent months. The aphotic amethyst represents abysmal beddy-bye based on my movements during the night.

With these reports, I assay my abstracts account and adjudge if it’s acceptable abundant or if I should change my routines to advance the time and/or affection of my sleep. A acceptable archetype from the awning aloft is my boilerplate beddy-bye time: beneath than 7 hours isn’t great, so I will apparently appear up with a plan to advance that in the aing months.

The best app I’ve begin to clue aliment and exercise is MyFitnessPal. Their database on foods is unparalleled. I’m tracking my circadian aliment assimilation and contest again, but it isn’t commodity I do all the time. I accept done this affectionate of tracking in the accomplished aback I was dieting and the acquaintance was outstanding.

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By appliance MyFitnessPal, you accumulate clue of your calories, macro-nutrients, types of food, sets of exercises, baptize you drink, etc. It’s a chiral process, but account the amount if you’re alive on convalescent yourself in that regard.

It’s absolutely adamantine to clue your aliment assimilation because it’s a chiral activity and the aftereffect is best admired if you’re afterward some affectionate of diet. But sometimes aloof tracking a anniversary actuality and there provides a accessible datapoint on whether you’re about bistro the appropriate kinds of things in the appropriate quantities.

Money is one of the best important things I track. I’ve done it anxiously for abounding years. Accumulate in apperception that tracking your money is not the aforementioned affair as authoritative your expenses. You can clue your money afterwards alteration annihilation in your lifestyle. The alarming allotment is that you’ll be able to attending to your costs and adjudge if they added amount to your activity or not. You’ll additionally be able to attending at accomplished spending abstracts to adjudge if you can allow a ample purchase — like a abode or a continued vacation.

I use a bounded app that is chargeless and connects to my coffer to get my expenses. They use your abstracts to affix acclaim companies to you. If you’re OK with that, it’s a accurate app which saves you a lot of time in allocation expenses, but it’s alone advantageous in one country which doesn’t use English as their congenital language.

In this app I can accomplish an angel like this, breadth anniversary allotment is a class (e.g. Entertainment, Home, Travel, etc.):

Instead of advising an app best of you won’t be able to use, I suggest YNAB (You Charge A Budget). There’s a specific claimed accounts aesthetics and arrangement congenital into the app (which is absolutely effective, btw), but they additionally accept all the aforementioned appearance as the app I use:

The botheration with YNAB is that it’s a paid app, so you accept to adjudge if you appetite to advance in it or not. Mint and Clarity Money are accepted “free” (or at atomic unpaid) alternatives, but I don’t accept claimed acquaintance with either.

Do you apperceive how abounding words you address in one month? What about how abounding mistakes you accomplish aback autograph in English? Grammarly can admonition acknowledgment both of those questions.

I acclaim appliance it abnormally if you’re a non-native English speaker. It identifies accepted mistakes that can calmly go disregarded (e.g. prepositions).

Grammarly sends you a account newsletter with your stats for the antecedent month. It looks like this:

Unfortunately, the newsletter is Grammarly’s alone antecedent of metrics, but I did some chiral extracting to actualize this spreadsheet:

It’s nice to see the cardinal of words accounting increasing, but not the cardinal of corrections made. It seems I’m improving!

And of course, you can consistently claiming yourself to a specific chat calculation ambition per month.

This breadth is a benefit for those who address cipher on a circadian basis. If you appetite to accumulate clue of how abounding hours you absorb autograph cipher and which languages/editors you’re using, I abominable acclaim using Wakatime.

I use their bury archive in my now page (based on Derek Sivers now page). One of the archive I like the best is my accent breakdown:

To accomplish it work, you accept to install their plugin on your IDE/Text editor, but the activity is absolutely easy.

Sometimes you appetite to clue commodity specific that no apps provide. In those cases, you can abatement aback to Google Spreadsheets and body your own metrics. As an example, I set up a ambition to do accessible talks 20 times in one year and was befitting clue of it on a account basis.

The afterward angel is the final blueprint I had aftermost year:

It was absolutely nice to accept breadth I was that ages in affiliation to what I had planned. You can see that things afflicted aback I saw that I was abaft my agenda in April.

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You could actualize a “goal vs actual” bandage blueprint like this for any metric — books read, accessories published, afar run, acquirement earned, etc. Here’s a great adviser from Lucid Chart that will airing your through how to set it up.

If you accumulate your Google Sheet tracking to one or two capital goals you appetite to focus on, the added action of visualizing your advance (or abridgement thereof) can be account the chiral effort. (It may be accessible to add a account or monthly recurring assignment to Todoist to admonish you to accumulate it up.)

If you don’t appetite to accommodate abstracts to third parties, spreadsheet software is absolutely an accomplished apparatus for tracking any of the things I’ve covered so far in this guide. You can use Google Spreadsheets, Excel or OpenOffice Calc to body your own simple arrangement with charts, etc. Accumulate in apperception that it will booty some time and accomplishment to actualize and advance this affectionate of DIY tracking system, but it’s an advantage for those who don’t feel adequate installing apps to clue their activities.

I tend to chase the cheapest, best customized tracking setups, but sometimes it’s acceptable to accept things accurately laid out for us alike if we accept to pay for it. Let’s appraise a free and a paid way to alpha accumulation your data.

Free

You don’t charge to use all those apps and strategies at the aforementioned time to get the allowances of tracking. If you appetite to alpha accession metrics about yourself, you can pick one of those apps/strategies and administer to one particular breadth of your life.

For example, you could alpha with RescueTime. It doesn’t crave circadian chiral ascribe (just some agreement to the categories of the apps at the start), and you’ll alpha see absorbing patterns afterwards aloof a few weeks.

Paid

If you’re OK with appliance apps to clue your abstracts and are up to pay for a account that helps, I would acclaim giving Exist.io a shot. It’s a paid account but you can try it for 30 canicule for chargeless and 60 canicule aback you’re referred. The articulation I provided is my barometer if you appetite to try it out for two months.

You can anticipate about it like a claimed dashboard that brings all you abstracts into one, easy-to-see-and-analyze place. The app will adviser you through the apps they affix with and you can affix with the ones you use:

You’ll anon accept archive like these:

In accession to centralizing your data, the app lets you add custom tags to your canicule and spits out absorbing insights automatically — like correlations amid abundance and exercise or alike weight and locations you’ve visited. It additionally sets alone goals based on your accepted averages and alike has congenital affection tracking which isn’t an breadth I’ve covered in this guide.

It’s an accomplished account and a nice company.

In short, connected improvement. Acceptable habits are adamantine to form. Bad habits are adamantine to break. It’s difficult to do either of those things afterwards bringing acquainted acquaintance into your life.

Tracking your abstracts lets you booty an honest attending at how you absolutely absorb your time (rather than how you anticipate you absorb your time). It’s not about accusation or answerability over accomplished behavior. It’s about acquainted patterns and authoritative advised decisions to be a little bit bigger aing month. It gives you the adventitious to become a bigger person — whatever that looks like for you.

It additionally aloof feels acceptable to apperceive that you’re adjustment your activity with your ethics and priorities in a tangible, assessable way.

Here is a arbitrary of what I can (and have) bigger afterwards blockage my metrics regularly:

These changes accept added a ton of amount to my life. You acceptable won’t ability the aforementioned conclusions. As anybody brand to say, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. You can apprehend all the activity and assignment admonition out there, but in the end anybody is unique. Gathering your own abstracts lets you optimize your activity for what you want to get out of it. You may never absolutely ability your own ideal (how arid would that be anyway), but you will continuously advance forth the way.

This commodity originally appeared on the Doist blog.

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