Lifelogging: is it worth the effort?

Barry Collins spends a month logging everything about his life using a variety of apps and gadgets. Did he learn anything worthwhile? Here’s his verdict on lifelogging

Lifelogging: the verdict

So, after a month of monitoring almost every detail of my personal and professional life, am I any the better for it? Or am I like the crew of Apollo 13, ready to mutinously rip off the sensors because I’m sick of the constant probing? In truth, I’m conflicted.

Much of the data I’ve collected seems largely pointless. It’s interesting to know that I was restless 18 times last night, for example, but what am I meant to do with that information?

I generally know when I’ve had a bad night’s sleep, because I’m longing for a pot of coffee the next morning, and as a long-term sufferer of sleep deprivation, I know that the best way to ensure you won’t sleep is to go to bed thinking about it, which is what wearing a sleep-monitoring wristband compels you to do.

Some of the monitoring apps have made a surprisingly positive impact

On the flip side, some of the monitoring apps have made a surprisingly positive impact. RescueTime quantified just how much time I was wasting on Twitter, and now TweetDeck is shut down for much of my working day, especially when deadlines are looming.

It also reinforced the benefits of proper rest: the fact that I’m at my most productive the Monday after a relaxing weekend has forced me to curb my instinctive tendency to fire up the laptop of a Sunday afternoon. The stats prove it was counterproductive.

It’s had a surprising impact on my waistline, too. Over the course of the month, without even consciously trying to lose weight or surrendering the Friday-night visits to the pub and the Chinese takeaway, I’ve shed six pounds.

It could be a coincidence, but I know that meticulously logging my food intake made me think twice about raiding the kids’ chocolate tin, or that a depressingly inactive day on Fitbit hardened my resolve to attend my Tuesday-night five-a-side football session.

Data drives decisions. Sometimes you’re better off not knowing. Sometimes you definitely aren’t.

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