Have you heard the terms “Quantified Self” or “Self-tracking” before? I have to admit that I have heard them for the first time last week. A radio talk show host was kind of against the idea of self-tracking. She saw this leading to others knowing about her personal data like when and how often she has gone to the toilet that day and what she ate for breakfast, etc. I find her stance on this topic absurd. After all self-tracking does not necessarily mean, you have to publish your personal data to the world but you can if you want to. It is like just because there is the functionality to upload photographs on Facebook you do not have to upload photos of you dancing on a table with a bottle of vodka in your hand but you can if you want to. I guess it depends on how extroverted and “exhibitionistic” you are.
I have quantified myself before and I am sure that many others have too. I just have to consider all the time I have gone on a diet, capturing my weight and body fat percentage was a must to track my weight loss. A couple of months ago I bought an electronic toothbrush, which came with a smart guide. I now know exactly how long I brush my teeth every time.
Self-tracking has been around for ages. Just think about all the women, who are against hormonal contraception and track their body temperature and other body symptoms everyday to identify their fertile days. Or all professional and amateur athletes certainly keep track of their fitness level. Even I kept track of my pulse rate and calorie burn rate during the short period of time I regularly went jogging.
In my opinion the technological advancements in the mobile phone industry has been conducive for self-tracking. Most mobile phones are constantly connected to the internet and subscribers have access to a plenitude of apps that support self-tracking. For instance, my husband loves Runkeeper because he can see keep track of speed, distance and the exact location of where he ran or cycled.
Another big change in my opinion is the whole social media element. Now you can easily share your self-tracking data via Facebook or other social media platforms and “show off” what you have been doing or exchange data with other like minded people.
Therefore self-tracking is not a trend, it’s a way of life. It can be a help in accomplishing small projects or experiments on a personal level. It can also be a way to live a healthy life by really knowing one’s body and be a form of early detection if something were to go wrong.
I also think it is a great way to tackle the problem of procrastination. By identifying projects and keeping track of key data, one can identify problem areas and also ensure success. Successful projects are important to build up one’s willpower and self-esteem and break out of the cycle of procrastination.