Weekly self-tracking links, the Quantified Self edition

This week, I’ve been reading the round ups of the 2012 Quantified Self conference. I’m REALLY jealous that I couldn’t make it this year. It’s inspiring to see the Quantified Self movement advancing as much as it has in the past few years. You can find a good list of the highlights here. Give it a read and prepare to feel like you’re living in the future (and then pause to consider what this stuff will look like in five years!)

If one half of RescueTime’s DNA is productivity, the other is self-tracking. We think that people should be happy and productive and able to spend their time exactly how they want to. In our opinion, the best way to do that is through a strong personal awareness of how their time is spent. Some things simply don’t work when someone else hands you the answers that work for “most people”, you’ve got to look at the information available and figure out what works for you, on your own. Well, not quite on your own. There are lots of services that will help you understand and tweak pretty much any aspect of your life that you can think of. Here are a few examples.


Sleep or Else : Wired Magazine

Getting the right amount of sleep is super important. Sleep helps regulate our weight and our emotions. This post from Wired goes over some of the science involved with getting a solid night’s rest.

An Experiment with Polyphasic Sleep by Emi Gal

Polyphasic Sleep is the practice of breaking your sleep schedule up into multiple periods throughout the day, not just the single 6-9 hour block most people get. There are supposedly some benefits to it, but it’s really hard to put into practice. This short talk is best summed up by one of his slides “If it looks like a zombie, and talks like a zombie, it must be a polyphasic sleeper”

For tracking sleep, there are bunch of options. I use a Fitbit and it’s great (although it takes a little while to get in the habit of tracking my sleep). There’s also Zeo, which actually records your sleep quality by receiving microvoltages emitted from your brain. There are many others, here’s a list.

Posture / Sitting

There’s more and more science piling up indicating that sitting all day is really bad for you (Infographic)

But it’s one of those things that you can’t easily get away from, especially if you work at a computer all day. If you’re not able to / not interested in investing in a standing desk, the best you can do is try to cultivate some good posture habits and take a breaks often.

Lumoback looks really interesting. It’s a posture sensor that you wear around your lower back. It let’s you know when you’re slouching via a smartphone app and vibrations in the sensor. This allows you to train yourself to sit up straighter. It also helps you understand how much time you’re spending sitting vs. standing, so it can help you learn to get up and take breaks as well.

Another option to visualize your sedentary time is the Fitbit. It’s great, because it gives you a really easy number that you can slowly chip away at over time. I’ve found it can be skewed pretty heavily if you aren’t also tracking your sleep time every day, so perhaps a dedicated solution like the Lumoback would work better.

Brushing your teeth / Walking the dog

Green Goose makes sensors that keep a log of how often (and how long) you brush your teeth. They also help you keep track of whether or not you fed or walked your pets, which would work great for me because my obese cat has figured all the sneaky tricks for conning an extra meal.

Special powers!

Some personal analytics projects can take data and give it to you in a way that gives you super powers! SenseBridge sells several biofeedback devices, the coolest of which I think is the North Paw. It’s a ankle-bracelet that has a compass and is lined with vibrating motors. Whichever motor is facing north vibrates, which over time (apparently) leads to the wearer having a intuitive sense of direction. It sounds really neat, and is nowhere near as extreme as some other “sixth-sense” body hacks, such as implanting magnets in your fingertips.


Track Your Happiness gives you a series of random-sample tests about your mood and happiness over the course of a few weeks. At the end of it, you can see some pretty interesting stats about your emotions. You can find out if you’re happier around people, whether or not your a morning person or a night owl, and much more.

…and more!

For a huge list of additional self-tracking resources, check out the Quantified Self’s Guide to Self Tracking Tools.

Have a measurably good and quantifiably productive week!


  1. Great post! Thank you so much for this! When it comes to tracking happiness I think that Mappiness is the best tool 🙂

    Have a great week

    Niklas Laninge 7 okt 2012 kl. 04:21 skrev RescueTime Blog:

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    1. That was a great article Dann. I’m really curious about the sensations gained from that implant. Unfortunately, the paragraph about the magnet flipping over in your finger when you get it near a magnet with an opposite pull is so cringe-inducing that I know I’ll never end up trying it. 🙂

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