Want to use data and gamification to improve your life?

We all have moments in our days where we congratulate or chastise ourselves. Maybe you nailed a presentation, volunteered, or ate healthy meals. Maybe you bought a whole season of show on Amazon before realizing it was available for free on Netflix (and watched one episode so you can’t return it… no?). What if we could use those moments as data to help guide us on our journeys to make better decisions and better contribute to the world?

I like the image of flying a kite. Your optimal self is on the ground, steady and constant, and your day-to-day self is the kite, finicky and easily knocked out of alignment. The goal is to develop a better relationship between these two, have fun, and ultimately get better at flying your kite in whatever weather.

GIF by MaggieRAPT

The boring term for what we’re doing is performance tracking. I prefer life game. I recently started sharing my dashboard with people and to my delight, some friends are interested in trying it out for themselves. So, I figure, since I need to write out the instructions anyway, why not put ‘em out there? Perfect timing to start a new month!

Let’s Get Started.

There are just a few things you’ll need to do:

  1. Figure out the categories you want to track. I put some more info and examples from the categories in the second tab of the dashboard, called the ReadMe. Note that you can pick a couple or even one category to start, and that the points themselves are very individualized. These are the moments of congratulations and chastisement I mentioned in the beginning.
  2. Set up your software (free). Download and get comfortable with the Numbers app if you have iPhone or Google Sheets for Android. I have templates for each of these and can help with setup/customization, such as freezing columns. See the template.
  3. Pick a day when your week ends/begins. This will be the time you close out your week from a data management perspective. I do this on Friday mornings.

Voila! Please let me know if you are trying it out. I’d love to hear about your experience and am happy to help you implement the system or hold you accountable if that’s helpful until tracking becomes a habit.

For some closing thoughts, here is a wonderful podcast looking at another kind of tracking — tracking animals in the African bush. The lesson? When it comes to the art of tracking, we musn’t forget about the need for openness and patience as well (38:47 if you want to skip to that part). Enjoy!

One cannot fix one's eyes on the commonest natural production without finding food for a rambling fancy.