Tracking and Trending

I’ve often felt like I’m a little anal-retentive about the things I track and record on a regular basis. But nothing I do holds a candle to Nicholas Felton.

In one sense, the Annual Reports started in 2004 with a single-page, best-of-the-year survey. While this “Best of Four” was filled primarily with items I’d enjoyed the most over the previous year, it also contained some smaller, objective items I could excavate from the year without trying too hard. These items, such as the “most-played song,” “air miles traveled” and “digital versus analog photos” formed the basis of the following reports, while the subjective elements have become much less prominent.

I looked at Felton’s most recent Annual Report, and found it both intriguing and excessively OCD. Then it occurred to me how many things I track in my own life:

  • Music – tracking listening habits via and iTunes
  • Food – tracking eating habits for Weight Watchers by hand in a journal
  • Weight – tracking daily/weekly weight over the past six years via Excel spreadsheet
  • Photos – geotagging on Flickr, cataloguing and tagging via Adobe Bridge
  • Concerts – via Events (and physical ticket stubs saved)

I’m sure there are other data and trends I could extract from my online interactions (like Facebook and YouTube), and I know there must be daily actions that it would behoove me to track more regularly (like my sleep habits).

I’m sure it would also be helpful if I actually looked at the trends that the data reveal — do I gain more weight after a weekend including sushi or Indian food? Is there a correlation between amount of sleep and weight loss/gain? How does my diet directly affect my weight; how many Flex Points can I eat before I stop losing and start maintaining or gaining? What’s the effect of eating five or six servings of vegetables versus only one in a day? There are so many possibilities, depending on how obsessive I want to get about the various aspects of my life. (Right now, my weight loss and food intake is the most trackable and accessible, so that’s where my focus goes first.)

Might be worth some thought for me, as I’m already an anal-retentive bastard when it comes to tracking and listing certain things, anyway. Maybe dialing up the OCD will help me on several fronts.

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  1. Some other things I track that I forgot to mention: income vs. spending on candles and supplies, candle “recipes” and their results, daily walking steps/distance (when my pedometer software is working).