September 28, 2010

realizing that I am quantifying my life

 {a peak into one of my desks}

Yesterday I started a new project on the blog. It is in its infancy and we will have to wait and see if I can actually maintain this latest project like I want to. Pop on over to my reading challenge page to see the thoughts behind my book list.  I am hoping to read through my entire library over the next three years and in the process I hope to: enjoy the resource of my own bookshelves; purge the majority of our books; and hopefully pass along good books to anyone who wants to read them.  Oops, I just told you the plan.

{my method for counting the number of pints of water I drink in a day}

Originally I was planning on a paper and pencil list, but I have been trying to stop the runaway notebooks, journals, binders, random counters and post-its that inhabit my daily life.

{my favorite tracking notebook ever, it was the only one stop shop for record keeping I have ever maintained}

As a person who keeps records married to a person who doesn't throw things away, I have acquired enough family files to fill four standard filing drawers.  There are only two of us.  We are only thirty.  Our paperwork weighs more than we do and so it is time for me to start digitizing our non-essential lists, records, plans and documents.

 {runaway files}

One of my favorite blogs is The Quantified Self.  The concept of self-knowledge through records appeals to me at my core.  I always chuckle about how different this source is from most of what tumbles across my daily feed in Google Reader.  I have never identified myself as part of this movement, of people using online tools, apps or even old fashioned diaries, notebooks and lists to measure their lives.  I mean, they are scientists and statisticians. I have an obsession with sharpies and writing with different colors for different subjects.  Not the same.  Or is it?   This decision to go online with my book list started my mind spinning about all that I monitor and what benefit I gain from my quirky records.  As it turns out, I am a life tracker, a pretty detailed one at that. 

 {notes from today's breakfast to track our food balance}

So much of our world is already quantified for us, that little sticker on our windshield that tells us when the next oil change is due; annual height, weight and blood pressure checks at the doctor's office; nutritional information on our food labels; the itemization of our phone bills.  Why not monitor the things that matter to you?

 {my kitchen notebooks where I record recipes that work for us, brands of food I like and notes about appliances}

Throughout my childhood and adolescence {and even occasionally today} my mom's reminder to "make a list" helped me remain somewhat organized.  In college I realized that for true subject retention I would have to make detailed outlines of my assigned reading.  This has developed, without my really noticing, into an informal tracking of quantifiable elements of our lives.  At this point I believe I have crossed the threshold from informal to formal.

{my daily notebook & weekly priorities list}

It seems I am a bit late to my own party.  I have only now realized that I do this, and I'm not really even aware of all that I track on a daily, weekly, monthly or annual basis.  Now that is something I want to get a grasp on, and one more thing to track...  I am curious to know, what do other people monitor?  Do you do it intentionally?  Do you keep records?  How frequently do you track? Why?  What is the benefit for you?


子琳 said...

I was super excited to see the second picture!! Happy to know that it's a part of your life and it is helping you count the amount of water! :P

Teresa said...

I had thought of using it to hold my salt near the stove, but then I wouldn't be able to see your words & smile.

Thanks for being such a great student and here is to many years of friendship!


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