I’ve loved numbers and statistics for as long as I can remember, so any devices or applications that give some kind of virtual dashboard to more, I generally take on with relish.
At the start of 2018 I bought a Misfit Ray activity tracker, to see how much activity I engaged in each day.
Since I haven’t had a watch since my teens (I don’t wear any kind of jewellery – which once offended an ex-girlfriend who bought me a leather bracelet on holiday, and didn’t entirely impress my wife when I said I wouldn’t be wearing a wedding ring after we married), and so didn’t want to start now.
Which led me to the Misfit Ray, a very light and almost imperceptible bracelet that I wear around one ankle so it tracks my walking and cycling better than if it was on my more static wrist, and being more visible and annoying as I write and type (another reason I don’t wear a watch).
After two years, I’ve seen a clear pattern.
Every month I complete around 300k steps, or an average of 10k per day.
I haven’t drastically changed my approach to (or amount of) walking in this time, the tracker has just shown me what my average amounts are, with the routines I already had in place.
Some days I exercise more than others.
When I do the school run (on foot, unless it’s torrential rain) and cycle to work (ditto re weather conditions), I have a more active day than the non-school run, commuting by car, wet days.
I also go for a lunch time walk at work four days a week, again unless it’s very wet, which adds a few thousand steps. And days I’m not at work I try to have a longer walk, usually with a camera.
These more active days where I might walk 15-20k steps balance out with my most inert, when it’s only walking around the house/office that adds to up to perhaps 5-7k.
The Ray has also offered an interesting sleep pattern analysis, and I can see, allegedly, how much deep sleep, light sleep, and wakeful time I have each night.
I don’t know how accurate this is – or can be with such a simple device – but there have been clear differences in the stats between nights of little sleep with a new baby, and those where I have eight or nine hours, with five to seven of these restful.
The figures and patterns have clearly correlated with what I’ve instinctively known and felt about how much sleep I’ve had – and the quality.
In all of this though, the tracker hasn’t provided any major revelations, or transformed the way I exercise, sleep, or anything else.
On the whole it’s been just one more little thing I can perhaps get too caught up in and obsessive over.
Because I now know what exercise I need to do to make up 10k steps (or 15 or 20k), there doesn’t seem much point continuing to track it.
Plus, although 10000 is a good round number, it’s certainly not the only way to measure how healthy one is (or how many photographs you’ve made) – as I said this forms part of an overall approach for living in an active and healthy way that I’ve had for most of my life.
Symbolically, as I mentioned before, I don’t like having anything jewellery-like or otherwise on me all of the time, it feels like I’m tethered or, well, being tracked!
So for 2020 I’m putting the Misfit Ray away in a drawer, to see what it feels like to be untethered from this particular statistical ritual.
I have a feeling this might be part of a wider move towards being less obsessed with the details, rather than enjoying overall experiences.
Indeed, “untethering” feels like a good guiding word for the new year.
Other examples that come to mind are analysing the stats for this blog, and tagging and organising photos I make by camera, lens and so on, rather than just letting any image stand on its own two feet, regardless of the equipment that created it.
How about you, what do you track in your life? Do you have any plans to change, remove, or add anything in this next year?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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