Around the RescueTime offices, we’ve been talking a lot lately about the external factors that influence your time on the computer. RescueTime is pretty good at helping you understand what you’ve been doing, but there’s a bit of a blank spot when it comes to the question “why were you doing it?”
Last week, I saw this tweet by one of our users:
— Ben Bleikamp (@bleikamp) April 12, 2012
A similar sentiment is echoed in this article from the Wall Street Journal a couple weeks ago, which poses questions like:
“Suppose they (workers) could tell how much an afternoon workout boosts their productivity, or how much a stressful meeting raises their heart rate.”
It got me thinking about all the different data streams that are currently piling up around our activities, and how there’s probably a ton of interesting information that jumps out if you can mash them all together. It’s getting easier and easier to amass these piles of data, but unfortunately they tend to be fairly siloed off. Here’s a few that seem really interesting to me:
I’ve used a Fitbit to track more or less every step I’ve taken over the past 2 years (just about 6 million steps). Lately I’ve been using it to keep a really close eye on the time I spend sitting (turns out it’s WAY more than I’d like). I’ve noticed a somewhat counter-intuitive insight with my RescueTime data. I actually do more fulfilling work on days when I’m the most active.
I’ve tracked as much of my music listening history as possible since sometime in mid-2005. I haven’t gotten around to doing it yet, but I’d love to do some analysis and see how my activities impact my listening habits, of vice versa.
There’s a bunch of devices that have come out recently to measure your sleep. Everything from free apps you can download on your phone to headbands that monitor your brainwaves. Personally, I use my Fitbit. It comes with a wrist-strap that you wear while you’re sleeping that measures your movement. I learned that I don’t really sleep as much as I’d like. I haven’t uncovered any unexpected insights about how that affects the rest of my behavior… yet.
This one isn’t so much a personal data stream, but there’s ample data out there, and I think it’s pretty interesting. Especially living in Seattle with the long, dreary winters.
What data sources about yourself would you like to see mashed up? What do you think you would learn from it?