by Mike Shea on 5 January 2018
As I have in years past (2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016), I've been using my lifetracker app to track various activities each day. Over 2017 I recorded 12,932 unique key value pairs (think "movie:Blade Runner 2049"). This lets me look at all sorts of trends over the year. We'll start with the scores.
Each day I rank my day on six scores; six things that I've determined are important in my life: create, relax, love, befriend, health, and happiness. I score these on a scale of 1 to 10.
Here are some summary statistics:
For a more detailed look, here's the scores over the year.
We can also compare 2017 to 2016 with a violin plot. Not a good health year compared to last. Otherwise pretty close.
I tend to consider a successful day a 7 or better but that was nearly all days so we'll look at how many days were an 8 or better in the following chart. We'll plot this out on an event plot. The column on the left shows you how many days out of the 363 I recorded (yep, I missed two days), had a score of 8 or above. The dots on the event plot show you which days it was.
Over the year I tracked 64 unique "keys" (like "book" or "movie" or "podcast"). I've omitted some of them here but this shows which days I tracked which keys. You can see some interesting patterns for vacations and my sabbatical.
Each of these keys included a value such as a particular book or a particular movie. This lets me break things down by event types and specific events like which books I read, which podcasts I listened to, or what coding language I used. Let's dig in.
I've started a habit of reading three times throughout the day: audiobooks on my commute, non-fiction during lunch, and fiction before bed. This let me carve through 34 books this year. My particular favorites included The Signal and the Noise, The Republic of Thieves, We Are Legion (We Are Bob), and Monstress.
I don't have a good visualization for the 64 movies watched. Here were all the movies I watched in 2017. Bolded movies are the four movies I particularly loved.
Adaptation, Alien Covenant, Aliens, American Beauty, Arrival, Atomic Blonde, Baby Driver, Beauty and the Beast, Blade Runner, Blade Runner 2049, Bright, Creed, Death Note, Die Hard, Doctor Strange, Empire Strikes Back, Enemy at the Gates, Fantastic Beasts, Force Awakens, Geralds Game, Get Out, Ghost in a Shell, Goonies, Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone, Hidden Figures, Hollywood Endings, Inception, Interstellar, Jackie Brown, John Wick Chapter 2, Kill Bill 1, Kill Bill 2, Last Jedi, Logan, Memento, Moonlight Kingdom, Mr. Holmes, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Return of the Jedi, Rogue One, Royal Tennenbaums, Sicario, Skull Island, Spectre, Spiderman, Star Wars, The Discovery, The Fugitive, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Matrix, The Royal Tennenbaums, The Visit, Thor Ragnarok, Unforgiven, Wonder Woman.
Shows included TV shows (whatever that means these days) or Youtube videos and the like. My favorites for the year included Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Shetland, The Crown, Westworld, and Stranger Things.
Though I'm mostly into Dungeons & Dragons I do try to play some other games throughout the year. Here are the games I played. Besides the obvious ones, I REALLY loved Horizon Zero Dawn.
I've long-since replaced radio with podcasts. Here are the podcasts I listened to in 2017.
I like to take a short walk in the middle of the day. Here are the locations I walked.
I try to write, edit, or "create" something every day (running a D&D game counts, for example). Here are the things I wrote or edited. Biggest accomplishment, publishing Fantastic Adventures and working on a new project on my first ever sabbatical in August for a full month. Wonderful experience (except I was sick for like three weeks of it).
I've been making a strong effort to code as many days as I can. I used to write in a few different languages but, as we can see, it's almost all come down to Python (this analysis, for example, is all in Python).
Each day I put down one to three "thinking about" keys. These are like one-line journal entries. I can run some very basic natural-language processing to look at some of the key things I thought about over the year. Here they are along with the number of times they showed up.
d&d (82), day (63), game (61), fantastic adventures (58), work (56), today (51), fucking (39), trump (38), working (31), time (30), dwarven forge (28), fun (26), people (25), kickstarter (25), big (25), michelle (24), sabbatical (24), lazy gamemaster (23), ran (23), tomorrow (23), good (22), data (21), cold (19), friends (18), wrote (17), master (16), nice (16), hard (16), lots (15), finished (15), year (15), back (15), twitter (14), shit (14), busy (14), book (14), lot (13), text (13), writing (13), great (13), art (13), casey (12), bad (12), sick (12), lunch (12), ready (12), tonight (11), fantasy (11), feel (10), analysis (10), dms (10), classifier (10), started (10), deep dive (10), full (10), enjoying (9), dm (9), games (9), tweets (9), miniatures (9), winter fantasy (9), dog (9), dungeon (9), love (9), days (9), bullshit (9), folks (9), stuff (9), make (9), press (9), star (9), plastic (8), flourish (8), coffee (8), fucked (8), random (8), awesome (8), crazy (8), adventure (8), worried (8), dinner (8), thinking (8), boss (8)
Most interesting to me about tracking all of this nonsense every day is how well it reinforces daily habits. When I've decided that a particular thing is important to me (writing, for example) and start tracking it every day, I tend to do it. For me, this beats the hell out of yearly goals. I still have some large goals (publish Fantastic Adventures for example) but the daily stuff is what gets that done.
For those who managed to reach the end of this article and, if for some reason you feel inclined to do something like this yourself, I recommend the app [Streaks] which I've been using as well. It doesn't cover the detail that my own tracking does, but it's much more polished and easy to use.
Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @mshea on Twitter. If you enjoyed this article, please use this link to Amazon.com for your next online purchase.