How closely do you keep track of your life? You might think you keep close tabs, but really think about it for a moment. Do you monitor the little things that can make big differences? If you’re not carrying around a pocket notebook or other recording apparatus, chances are you’re not.
Our Android smartphones, however, act as a recording apparatus. There are plenty of apps, including simple text apps, that can help us keep tabs on various aspects of our lives. Keeping track of them lets us notice patterns and habits, and with that awareness we can change things we don’t like.
Think of this in the same way as a SCADA system (supervisory control and data acquisition). You use your Android to acquire the data you need. The only difference is that instead of automatic monitoring, as in most SCADA systems, you’ll have to do some of the heavy lifting yourself. There are apps, though, that can automate the process. Once you have the data, though, the control system is on you. That is, your smartphone can acquire and present the data, but you’ll have to fix it yourself.
1. Your spending habits
If you need convincing to start writing down your spending habits, read this post on The Art of Manliness. It’s tough to turn away advice from a success such as John Rockefeller.
If you don’t want to read the post, the gist is this: we have lost a vital connection with our money. When we pay cash, we feel the separation from our money. When we wrote checks, we had to write it down immediately. But now with debit and credit cards, and with online account management, we’ve created a degree of disconnect. It no longer strikes us as fully when we swipe our cards.
Recording your finances is as easy as writing them down in a text document. If it worked for Rockefeller, it can work for you. You an also get a free app, such as Loot, which can provide an easier interface. It also does that whole adding thing for you. With support for recurring transactions, Loot might be the best app out there for this type of function.
2. Your workouts
While many of us consider exercise important, many of us also find it difficult to stick with any regular program. But in the same way that recording your finances can give you a better understanding of your money, tracking your workouts can give you a better sense of your habits. It’s just about finding the right app.
An app such as GymTechnik works well, because it works in many different ways. It not only lets you record your workouts, but with videos and images of movements, you can actually build a routine right on the app. With other features, such as online personal training, it can go a long way to helping you keep your fitness goals.
One thing I haven’t found that I really want: a fitness app with a homescreen widget that lets me know the last time I worked out. That would provide some motivation right there.
3. How much you walk
Let’s face it: working out isn’t for everyone. Don’t be ashamed, though. Some people just don’t value an active lifestyle, and that’s an individual choice. What’s shameful, though, is a life of sloth. That is, sitting at work all day, sitting on your ride home, and then plopping down in front of the TV the rest of the evening. There’s nothing healthy about that, and it can cause plenty of complications later in life.
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can remain semi-active even while staying away from the gym. The key, really, is to make sure you’re engaging in everyday physical activity. Simply walking more can help keep your gut from expanding past your current pant size. A simple free pedometer app, such as the simply named Pedometer Free can help you get an idea of your current activity level.
Once you make an assessment, you can then make a game out of it. Every day, try to walk more steps than the last. Every week, try to beat your previous week. Same for months. If you get good enough at the game, soon enough you’ll be losing weight.
4. What you get done at work
You would be amazed at how little we can get done at work every day. Seriously, there are days when I’m at work for eight hours and I feel as though I’ve only done a half hour of actual work. In some ways that might reflect on me as an employee, but in other ways it reflects on the unfocused nature of the modern office. I swear, there are some days where I spend more time taking notes from my boss than actually acting on said notes.
Here’s a little trick I started employing last year: write down everything I accomplished at the office. That is, any effortful action that got me closer to a goal. I don’t include routine tasks, like following up on emails. But I do include every step of a project that I complete. There are still some days when the list is scant, but overall I’ve noticed that I’m writing down more and more accomplishments.
All you need for this is a simple text document. I also recommend using your calendar for this, sending yourself a reminder at the end of every work day to write everything down. Then set a reminder every Friday, or even Saturday, so you can review what you did all week.
5. Books you’ve read and want to read
I know far too many people who say they don’t read, or worse, that they don’t like to read. Not only is reading a pleasurable leisure activity, it can also be an educational one. For instance, I learned more in the two years after college, by reading on my own, than I did all eight years in high school and college combined.
Keeping a wishlist is great. It gives us something to look forward to. I like using my Android Wish List, which I can access on the Android Mobile App for Android, to keep track of books I want to read. There are far, far too many on there, but I keep adding to it anyway. It’s exciting to go through it and actually order the books.
I also like using a simple text document to list the books I have read. It’s a nice little memento of time well spent. I’m not sure I’ve used it for any practical purpose, but for some reason I like keeping it. It’d probably be better if I used a journal app, such as I Journal, to record my thoughts on each book. Since I read while out of the house often, having this on my Android is a big plus.
There are plenty of other life aspects you can record on your mobile. My recommendation is to try them all and see what works for you. That way you can maintain your own SCADA system.