The Quantified Self For Narcissistic Nerds

For the past couple of years I’ve consistently recorded my running and swimming workouts on DailyMile. The bar graphs of the miles I’ve ran and juicy stats like how many donuts I’ve burned help keep me addicted to my little running habit.  Take a look at the past year and guess which month I gave birth to my wonderful baby.

DM 2013 Year

I’m a fan of resolutions and goals. If planned and executed well, these lead to big dreams. Steps that are quantifiable and measurable are easier to assess, readjust, and eventually attain. I learned this lesson after several failed attempts to quit caffeine cold-turkey.  I successfully weaned myself off of coffee by slowly reducing the amount of coffee by 50 milliliters each morning using a measuring cup. (I’m back on it now. Look, did you figure out that I have a 3 month old baby?)

Although I don’t obsess over counting calories or tracking my weight, I do find other data about myself fascinating. What is my lung capacity? How much time do I spend in the car commuting each day? How common is my name? How much deep REM sleep am I getting? How many minutes (hours?) did I spend reading my Facebook feed yesterday?  Am I brushing my teeth for the recommended 2 minute duration?

I’m not unique in my narcissistic queries. There’s a herd of nerds out there interested in the “Quantified Self” and they are equipping the rest of us with some wonderfully self-absorbed gadgets and apps.

There’s even a Meet Up group here in Austin, TX this evening.

I heard on NPR’s All Tech Considered yesterday that the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week had plenty of fodder for the Quantified Self.

So, if you have a self-improvement resolution, write it down, make it measurable, track your progress, look for patterns, re-adjust if needed, and indulge in a fun app or gadget.

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