12 Sep 2017
What I've learned about myself in four years of self-tracking with Exist
Three years ago I shared some of the insights I'd discovered in my personal data thanks to Exist. I've now been tracking various types of data about myself (sometimes off and on) for about four years while we've worked on improving Exist.
So here's a more up-to-date version of what Exist has helped me discover about myself.
Exercise isn't helping me lose weight
Via: Withings scale, Exist correlations, Exist custom tracking ("workout")
I always thought exercise was the biggest factor in weight loss but studies show diet has a much bigger impact. Studies are always based on averages across a sample, so they don't always match our own personal experience, but my data shows this finding is spot on for me. When I work out, my weight tends to increase.
I'm not sure if this is extra muscle mass (probably not) or because I eat more without realising after workouts, or something else. But the correlation is clear. Working out is great for my body and my brain, but isn't helping me lose fat.
Going out for brunch makes me 128% happier
Via: Exist mood tracking, Exist custom tracking ("brunch"), Exist Optimise
What can I say? I love brunch!
Napping makes me less productive
Via: Fitbit Alta, RescueTime, Exist Optimise
Guess I've lost that excuse...
Doing housework increases my active minutes for the day by 166%
Via: Fitbit Alta, Exist custom tracking ("housework"), Exist Optimise
I go to bed and wake up earlier than most of our users
Via: Fitbit Alta, Exist Trends
My sleep time is very average
Via: Fitbit Alta, Exist Trends
Not only do I sleep, on average, right about the same amount as the rest of our users, but since I've been working hard on going to bed and getting up at a consistent time to improve my sleep, my sleep times have become very average:
My happiest days of the week are Friday and Sunday
Via: Exist mood tracking, Exist Averages
I'm surprised to not see Saturdays being happier, though our mood rating scale only goes 1–5 so these averages don't reflect the smaller changes between rating my day as a 3 or a 4/5.
I'm more likely to eat fruit on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday
Via: Exist custom tracking ("fruit"), Exist Averages
I had no idea about this! Perhaps it's just because I do groceries on Mondays, so early in the week I'm still feeling good about all the fruit I've bought, and later in the week I get bored of it.
Getting parcels delivered makes me 136% more productive
Via: Exist custom tracking ("mail delivery"), RescueTime, Exist Optimise
And it improves my mood by 126%.
Sounds like a good excuse for more online shopping...
I'm most likely to nap on a Saturday
Via: Exist custom tracking ("nap"), Exist Averages
Funnily enough, something about sitting around the house relaxing actually makes me feel more tired than when I'm busy working on a weekday.
My most productive days are Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday
Via: RescueTime, Exist Averages
I'm not sure why Wednesdays drop off, but Mondays are definitely slow days for me before I ramp up on Tuesdays.
One coffee per day is my sweet spot
Via: Exist custom tracking ("coffee", "two coffees"), Exist mood tracking
On days I rate my mood 2/5 I tend to either have no coffee at all, or two coffees. Most days I have one coffee in the morning, so I guess I should stick to what works!
Drinking coffee helps me power through my inbox
Via: Gmail, Exist custom tracking ("coffee"), Exist correlations
Making progress at work makes me happy
Via: RescueTime, Exist mood tracking, Exist correlations
Research shows making progress in your work is powerful. Researchers Teresa Amabile and Steven J. Kramer say "Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work."
MeisterTask is where I keep cards relating to the content work I do for RescueTime. Spending time in MeisterTask usually means I'm either planning upcoming work, which makes me feel in-control, or moving cards to different stages of the content calendar, which helps me reflect on the progress I'm making.
If you'd like to explore what Exist can tell you about your own habits, sign up for a free 30-day trial.
You can also find out more about the Exist Optimise feature, Exist mood tracking, and our recently-introduced custom tracking feature, which is what lets me create all those custom tags like "coffee" and "mail delivery" (it's also great for habit tracking).