by Niall Doherty

This is a follow-on from a post I wrote back in August. My daily review checklist now looks like this:

  • Did I achieve my key habit for today? ….. Y/N
  • Approx hours of sleep last night + naps today …..
  • Did I exercise today (stretch/run/gym/sport/long walk) ….. Y/N
  • Did I reach out to someone today (say thanks, hello, or offer help) ….. Y/N
  • Did I practice some Thai today ….. Y/N
  • How healthy was the food I ate today (scale 1-10) …..
  • Average energy level today (scale 1-10) …..
  • General productivity today (scale 1-10) …..

Why fill out this checklist at the end of every day? Two reasons: it helps keep me accountable, and over time the data might reveal some patterns that help me make useful adjustments.

I put that second reason to the test this week, compiling 4.5 months of my habit tracking data into a spreadsheet and seeing what emerged. Here are the averages:

  • Achieved key habit 4 out of every 5 days.
  • Averaged 7.6 hours of sleep every 24 hours.
  • Exercised 3 out of every 5 days.
  • Reached out to someone 4 out of every 5 days.
  • Practiced some Thai 3 out of every 5 days (only started this a couple of weeks ago)
  • Food I ate was 73% healthy.
  • Average energy level was 7 out of 10.
  • Average productivity was 7.2 out of 10.

Graphing it

Here’s a fancy graph showing the correlation between sleep, productivity, energy level, and the food I ate in November. Graphs for the other months look pretty similar, all four metrics shadowing each other closely.

What lessons to take from this? Tough to say. Do I have more energy when I eat better, or do higher energy levels mean higher levels of willpower and therefore healthier food choices? Lots of those causation conundrums came up while sifting through the data, making it more difficult to draw conclusions than I expected.

Exercise days vs. non-exercise days

This data set is pretty clear however. I did better across the board on days when I made time for exercise.

DaysKey HabitHours SleepReached OutHealthy FoodEnergy LevelProductivity
Exercise8384%7.586%7.47.27.4
No Exercise4678%7.672%7.26.76.8

Mining the sleep data…

DaysKey HabitExerciseReached OutHealthy FoodEnergy LevelProductivity
≤7 Hours Sleep5084%58%80%7.36.96.9
≤7.5 Hours Sleep8180%63%81%7.36.97.0
≥8 Hours Sleep4885%65%80%7.47.07.2
≥8.5 Hours Sleep3482%59%73%7.66.87.2

Not as much difference as I expected between the top and bottom ends of that table.

What to make of it all

Honestly, this whole data mining exercise has proved pretty futile. I haven’t been able to find any nuggets of insight that will inform my decisions going forward (I already knew that I was better off exercising every day).

Methinks I need to track a couple of other metrics to make such an exercise worthwhile in future. A few I have in mind…

  1. Level of contentment/happiness today (scale 1-10) …..
  2. Stress level today (scale 1-10) …..
  3. Hours in front of the computer today …..

Any other ideas? What else do you think would be worth tracking long-term?