11 Jun 2015
Spending a day with Exist
For those new to Exist, I thought it might be helpful to see how I use it throughout the day to keep an eye on my progress. This is what a typical day using Exist looks like for me.
Morning—sleep and goals check-in
In the morning I often sync my Fitbit with the iOS app first thing so Exist has time to update my data while I shower and eat breakfast. Sometimes I’m lazy and just let the USB dongle plugged into my computer sync my Fitbit data once I get to my desk.
When I’m ready to start work for the day, I sit down at my computer and refresh Exist (I keep it in a pinned tab in my browser) to check how my sleep compared to average.
After checking my sleep data, I’ll take note of my steps and productivity goals for the day. Exist creates these dynamically, based on my average for this day of the week over the past 90 days. My steps goals usually range between 6,500 and 9,000. For productivity I’m usually aiming for around 2.5 to 3.5 hours.
We recently added a little star icon to the 8-day and 30-day graphs to show which days you hit your goals. I like to check these in the morning to see if I have a streak going that I want to continue. Today, for instance, I’m up to 16 days in a row of hitting my productivity goals, so I’ll try extra hard to hit my goal today and keep that streak alive.
Finally I read through my insights to see if I have anything new. Today I got this insight:
After lunch is a good time to check how I’m progressing towards my goals for the day. I usually have no idea how productive or active I’ve been by this stage since I don’t keep a very close eye on my data in the mornings.
At this point in the day I can adjust my focus for the afternoon to hit my goals (if I want to). If I notice my activity is less than half my goal I’ll plan to run later in the afternoon to boost my steps. If my activity is high because I’ve been out-and-about already, but my productivity is lagging, I’ll spend a big chunk of my afternoon working on coding or writing.
I like to experiment with my regular habits and routine to improve my mood and how productive I am. Exist helps by pointing out correlations I might not have known about and showing me trends and averages that I wouldn’t guess on my own.
My latest experiment has been an ongoing struggle to get up early. Although I generally like being up early, and positively shut down in the evenings, I’ve had a hard time getting up early consistently, so I’ve been looking for clues to help me improve this habit.
With a browse of my Exist data, I found that I wake up more during the night on days I slept in later. I had always thought this was because when I sleep in late I tend to doze and wake up a lot. But today I realised it could be the other way around.
What if I sleep in longer after having a bad sleep where I woke up a lot, because I’m extra tired?
Now I can start experimenting with ways to cut back on how much I wake up during the night and watch my Exist data for the next couple of weeks to see if they’re helping. My first approach will be to stop eating and drinking earlier in the night so I don’t wake up to use the bathroom. Wish me luck!
Around dinner time I check on my goals again. I only have a couple of hours after dinner before all my energy is gone, so this is a good time to check if I need to squeeze in some more exercise or productive time before bed.
If I’m close to my steps goal I might jump on the treadmill for a short walk after dinner. I rarely work after dinner, even to hit my productivity goal, but I always check what it is just so I know how I did during the day.
At 9pm my notification arrives to remind me to rate my day. I use the iOS app to rate my mood and make a note about what happened today. Since we added the Looking Back feature that shows you what your mood rating and note were a year ago today I’ve been trying to add more unique notes about what’s happening in my life so they’ll be interesting to read a year from now.
When I jump into bed I set my Fitbit to sleep mode. It can track sleep automatically, but I’m really forgetful about editing my sleep data the next day if it’s not quite right, so I like to set it manually when I’m ready to sleep so it’s as accurate as possible.
And thus ends a day of living with Exist.
If you use Exist differently, I’d love to hear about it! We’re always interested to hear more about how our users fit Exist into their lives. You can send us an email or find us on Twitter at @ExistApp.