Dec 2, 2018
I used to track WAY too many things every day. Tracking as in keeping a record. Writing it down and watching the trends.
I wanted to maximize each day. I assumed tracking everything was the answer. Over time, the amount of things I tracked daily became ridiculous. I tracked everything:
- Steps taken
- Words written
- Page views
- Social media engagement
- What I ate
- My exercise
- Our finances
I saved these, and more, in one spreadsheet or another. And in some cases the tracking helped. I found myself walking more and eating less. I was writing more and consuming less television. The tracking was helping. I even suggested that other people track things in their life. However, my enthusiasm didn't last long.
The downsides of too much tracking
I quickly ran into a few issues with tracking my entire life:
- It was spreading my attention too thin. I was not able to go deep on any one aspect of my life. I felt pressure to give them all some attention.
- It was almost impossible to hit the daily mark on every goal. I tended to focus too much on the failures. Even if I achieved most of my goals, I didn't allow myself to feel good about it.
- The tracking itself took too much time. Tracking doesn't have to be high tech. In fact, the less fussy the tracking tool the better. I now track two things every day with a pen and paper.
The benefits of tracking less
As with most things in life, less is more. I learned a few benefits after reducing what I track:
- Tracking is a great way to build a habit. I now know what it takes to get 10,000 steps each day. The act of tracking it each day taught me what it takes. Walking is now built into my routine. Once a habit is formed, tracking is no longer needed.
- Not everything needs written down. I still weigh myself every morning. The awareness of my most recent scale readings is enough. As long as I am maintaining my weight, tracking it historically serves no purpose.
- Tracking less frequently can still be effective. Take debt reduction for instance. We found that reviewing our expenses monthly was enough to stay on track. Tracking each day did not add any value.