The availability of tracking apps on mobile devices has given us the ability to measure activities in a way that has never been able to be done outside of a controlled study environment.
You can track food intake, exercise, finance, weight loss, reading activities, babies nappies/sleeping/crying/feeding, travel, emotions and all manner of other things.
I loathe baby tracking apps. I think they get in the way of the mother responding to her babies cues. I actually sent my watch home from hospital with number two so that when the staff asked what time I last fed I could honestly say “I have no idea”(sorry dedicated medical staff I think I was a bit of a pain).
Some apps remind us that activity needs to happen. I sometimes feel like Jiminy Cricket is living in my phone telling me I need to take a walk or record what I have eaten.
There is no doubt that many successful weight loss programs rely on tracking food intake as it makes the person accountable for everything they eat.
But is it the record you keep or the actual recording that makes a difference?
I mowed the lawn today and used a tracking app to meaure how far I walked and how long the activity took. The outcome was 0.4 km in 14 minutes at a really slow pace that will probably drag down my monthly average and stop the nice little Runkeeper bot sending me a “congratulations you broke some other random personal record” email this week. I could almost hear the little voice in my head saying “why are you going so slowly? This is rubbish, step it up!”
Actually what I got was this great crazy doodle
But I won’t walk as many times this week because I mowed the lawn. The activity still counts. I still get the benefit (in 30 degree heat with high humidity I could feel the benefits sliding off my backside). So I figured I would track it.
I have been tracking household finance on my PC for years and our whole family benefits from knowing exactly where we are with our money.
I really love reading tracking apps – I use one to browse expensive airport bookstores – the built-in scanner task means I can scan the barcodes and add the books straight onto my to e-read list and then request them from the library when I get home.
And posting the app updates on my FB page has allowed me to identify which of my friends are readers too. We have formed a book club. So now there is much eating and drinking and a teeny little bit of book discussion.
I wonder if all this data is going to be available for family history fanatics and what they will make of it. In 60 years time will my grandchild check out the crazy doodle and decide grandma had too much to drink that day?