Why quantify yourself?
Management guru Peter Drucker once said:
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
Although Drucker was talking about work, this famous principle applies to our lives outside the office as well. For example, it’s hard to manage a budget if you don’t know what you’re spending your money on.
Similarly, tracking steps with a pedometer can help you figure out if you’re getting enough exercise and keeping a log of what you eat makes it easier to stick to a diet. Tracking data about ourselves can give us an objective insight into our daily lives, giving us the tools we need to achieve our self-improvement goals.
What is quantified self?
Quantified self is a movement that promotes self-tracking and using personal data to improve our health and well-being.
Like analysts who use data to improve marketing campaigns or traffic flows, quantified self aficionados use mobile apps and gadgets to track and analyze their daily lives.
The uptick in compact technology over the past decade has made personal data collection easier than ever. Your mood, diet, spending, blood pressure, productivity — the list of things you can measure about yourself is endless.
What do people quantify?
The most common things people quantify include
- Heart rate variability — your heart rate, stress, energy and productivity levels
- Activity — number of steps, speed and distance
- Productivity — amount of time spent on social media, reading the news, and procrastinating.
- Workouts — goals & progress, calories burned, distance and heart rate
- Sleep — number of hours, sleep quality and stages, temperature, noise levels in the bedroom, and more.
- Meditations — time spent meditating, average heart rate during sessions
- Nutrition — calories consumed, nutrient balance, caffeine and sugar intake
- Health — biomarkers such as blood pressure, blood sugar, heart rate, blood oxygen levels, weight, BMI, etc.
- Environment — air quality, temperature, carbon dioxide levels, humidity, etc.
What apps & gadgets can I use?
There are plenty of devices you can use to quantify your life, from free apps to expensive gadgets. Here is a short list to get you started.
- Health: iHealth makes glucometers, blood pressure monitors, and oximeters.
- Fitness: wearables like Fitbits and Apple watches are the most popular fitness trackers.
- Sleep: try SleepCycle or Sleep as Android to track sleep quality and duration.
- Productivity: download RescueTime on your computer to find out how much you procrastinate.
- Environment: check out home weather stations like Netatmo, Foobot and Awair.
You’ll find all the data sources you can plug in the My Data tab in the app.
Will companies benefit from this?
What about healthcare professionals?
Totally! The technology boom is generating tons of digital biomarkers: consumer-generated physiological and behavioral measures collected through connected digital tools.
In the future, this data can be used to guide a person’s care or combined with data from other people to enable more precise population health management. The opportunities in the healthcare sector are endless.