Lifelogging: is it worth the effort?

My name is Barry Collins. I’m 6ft 3in and weigh 14st 5lb, although if I continue to lose weight at my current trajectory, by the time you read this I’ll be 13st 13lb.

Yesterday, I consumed 2,547 calories and 30g of saturated fat: my fourth-highest daily fat intake in the past month.

Thankfully, the damaging effects of that lunchtime “gourmet” hot dog in Wetherspoons (976 calories) and four pints of Guinness at the football (796) were more than offset by walking 11,679 steps, or 5.66 miles, over the course of the day, burning off 709 calories.

My existence has become one of The Police’s greatest hits: every move I make, every step I take, I’ve been watching… well, me.

Last night I slept 6hrs 48mins, although I showed signs of restlessness on no fewer than 18 occasions, totalling 36 minutes. I was particularly fidgety just after midnight and at 4.54am, although I have no recollection of either period of twilight activity. Whatever kept me tossing and turning, it wasn’t as bad as 20 February, when I woke up no fewer than 29 times in the night, a dubious personal record.

Last week, only 45% of my working time at the computer was “productive” or “very productive”, a fall of 22% from the week before. My most-used application was Microsoft Word (4hrs 40mins over the course of the week), although I “wasted” almost as much time (4hrs 28mins) using the Twitter client TweetDeck.

I know all of this and more (much, much more) because for the past month I’ve been using a barrage of apps and devices to track almost every aspect of my life. My existence has become one of The Police’s greatest hits: every move I make, every step I take, I’ve been watching… well, me.

The point? To test which of these many forms of personal surveillance are most effective, but more importantly, to discover whether meticulously logging every aspect of our personal and professional lives has any real benefit.

Are we really any better off for knowing how many minutes we spent on Facebook during work time yesterday, or how many times we woke in the night? Or does it merely confirm what, deep down, we already know? That we should eat more greens, take more exercise and stop looking at Facebook every five minutes. Here are the conclusions of my month-long experiment.

Click below for each section, or “next” at the bottom of the page to read them all.

Does lifelogging work?

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