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Monthly Data Report: April 2021

Jerry Zhang
Jerry Zhang
ยท

5 min read

Background

Every day, I collect data on myself through a combination of automatic and manual methods. This allows me to measure my life in a variety of ways. While data is not perfect, it's better to have it than to not have it. Otherwise, I would be flying blind without any way to know where I am and the direction I'm heading.

This is a systematic way for me to track where I am and strive to become better. It's not a perfect way and will probably require tweaking, but it's the best that I have so far for myself. I'm always happy to welcome any and all suggestions.

This is my monthly report on the data that I've collected on myself over the past month. Below, I present a review of my performance on what went well and where I can improve.

I will be comparing myself with last month's report.

Anchor Habits

I have 4 physical calendars which I use to cross off my daily anchor habits.

Results

Anchor Habit Days Success Rate
No-Sit Rule 13/30 43%
Morning Deep Work 16/30 53%
Perfect Day 12/30 40%
On-Time Sleep 13/30 43%

Reflection

No-Sit Rule

Haha, I've been getting worse at this. 78% to 67% to 43% over the last 3 months. It's a pretty big drop. Consistency is indeed difficult.

I think part of the reason for this is because I don't review my month-to-date aggregate every day. For my other metrics (health, time), I have dashboards that allow me to see where I am at in the middle of the month. I don't review these until the end of the month, and I think that hurt me.

Morning Deep Work

Haha, I've also been declining here. 67% to 64% to 53% over the last 3 months.

Same point as above. Perhaps daily reviews of aggregates benchmarked against the previous month will be useful for driving this up.

Perfect Day

Interestingly enough, I'm up to 43% from 29% last month. Still going based on a pretty vague feeling. Maybe I should assign myself a daily score between 1 to 10, with 1 being absolutely miserable to 10 being amazingly fantastic! That might be more useful than a simple 0/1 value.

On-Time Sleep

53% to 64% to 43%. Not the trend I was hoping for.

Same point as above as well.

Health

Every day, I record personal health metrics, such as food consumed, physical exercise, and weight. My Apple Watch also tracks heart rate and a variety of other metrics, but I haven't figured out how to integrate that into my health dashboard yet. More info here.

Results

Health Metric Days Success Rate
Calories Consumed 11/30 36%
Calories Burned 20/30 66%
Net Calories 15/30 50%

Reflection

Calories Consumed Within Limit

Oof, went from 61% down to 36%. Not as bad as two months ago when I sat at 25%. Still, tough loss.

Even though I have health dashboards that I update daily, I suspect a similar problem of not tracking the aggregate month-to-date percentage and benchmarking against the previous month. I do believe that will help.

Calories Burned At Expectation

77% to 66%. Not too bad here.

Net Calories Within Limit

As expected, this is an in-between of the past two stats. 36% and 66% roughly average out to 50%. I did meet an awesome 83% in March though, and it'd be nice to hit that again.

Weight

I started this month at 150.8 lbs and ended 150.4 lbs. My monthly max was 153.4 lbs and my month min was 149.2 lbs. Steady and alright.

Finances

Every month, I'll track my life expenses to make sure I'm living well below my means. This report excludes loan payments, gifts, investments, and living costs such as rent or utilities.

Category Amount
Car $879.46
Subscriptions $45.59
Food $497.10
Shopping $90.23
Total $1512.38

Reflection

Car

Insurance payment every 6 months.

Subscriptions

Spotify, Medium and phone bill.

Food

Okay, so out of the $309.45 I spent on groceries, $155.76 went to stocking up on chestnuts. I just love these snacks so much that when I saw them at Costco, I couldn't resist and bought 24 boxes. They're roasted, peeled, and sealed in a bag so they're the perfect snack.

Still, a bit excessive this month. Under $300 is good, and under $200 is really good. But over $400 is getting a bit much.

Shopping

I bought a poster frame and some office supplies this month. Mostly reasonable.

Time

I use Google Calendar to plan my time (forward-looking) and record my time (backward-looking). This bi-directionally looking strategy helps me keep myself accountable with my time week-over-week. The main metric I'm looking at is the amount of time I spent performing deep work and the results. As a peripheral, I'll also track time wasted and a breakdown of my total time.

Results

Time Metric W1 W2 W3 W4 Total
Deep Work Hours 5.5 12 10.5 10.5 38.5
Deliverables Produced 2 1 0 0 3
Hours Wasted 27.5 28.5 29 20 105

Reflection

Deep Work Hours Spent

This month, I included reading the newspaper into the mix. I'm up 38.5 from 35 with one less week. But I'm starting to get concerned with spending that much time reading the news. Maybe it's not necessary...

Deep Work Deliverables Produced

Same as last month. I didn't make any progress in the last 2 weeks, probably because I was spending too much time reading the news. Maybe I should optimize and just listen to the news podcasts. I'm starting to get good at scanning headlines, and the podcasts give me the headlines anyway.

Hours Wasted

I broke the record! Last month had 5 weeks for a total of 80.5, and this week had 4 weeks for a greater amount of 105. On average, that's 26.5 up from 16.1. This is hilarious.

Conclusion

The biggest takeaway from this month is that if I don't benchmark myself against the previous month, I won't be able to improve. I don't have a mechanism to track my month-to-date stats compared to last month. I need to set this up so I can know where I stand instead of only reviewing my monthly aggregated values after the month ends.

However, I can't spend too much time on this everyday or else it will take away from other meaningful activities. I'm finding time tracking to be the most time-consuming (not ironic at all) because of the wacky way I collect the data (by using a jank script to pull aggregated values from Google Calendar). I need to figure out a way to shorten that time.

A tough month overall, but it's still better to track this than to ignore it altogether.

Jerry Zhang

Programmer, YouTuber, and amateur musician. I like to write too!