Adrian Lin
3 min readDec 31, 2015


(1) How much self-tracking is too much? From your experience, is there a general inflection point? How do you maintain balance? Do you keep track of how much time/effort goes into self-tracking itself? The idea of self-tracking can scare away a lot of people who feel like they already don’t have enough time in the day to do the essentials. So how do we keep it simple?

It all depends on you. For me, I don’t need to be super accurate. I have lawyer friends who have to record to the precision of 0.1 hours because that’s how their companies charge clients. For me, I just want a general idea, and so I record up to 30 minutes. I tried recording by the hour and I felt it was too inaccurate — most of my activities go about half an hour in duration — and 15 minutes was too much hassle. I don’t keep track of how much time it takes to self track because I estimate it literally takes about 2 minutes per day so it doesn’t get tracked because it’s nowhere near 30 minutes.

(2) How do I figure out which KPIs are important for me to create and track in my own life?

Again, it depends. Everyone wants to track different things. For 2016, I want to continue not wasting more than 2 hours amount of time per day, so I set my slacking equation to count the number of slots of ‘web surfing’, but also ‘organizing’ and ‘entertainment’ and ‘tv’. I give these different weights though, because ‘organizing’ has benefits, I divide its weight in two, so an hour of organizing only counts as half an hour. You need to find out what’s important to you and design your KPIs to track that. You may also need to change what categories you have.

(3) Is there a way to add the idea of collaboration into this? I’m asking because in the future I would like to implement the idea of family-tracking? What would be some examples of KPIs that I should track on a family level?

Yes, you can share Google Sheets with collaborators. I guess you could track family time if you feel you don’t get enough family time. Whatever relates to all of you would be a good candidate.

(4) In my mind, family-tracking seems more fun than self-tracking because you get to support and encourage one another. It also adds even more accountability. To me, it’s exciting to see where the entire family is heading over the course of the year. What do you think? Based on your research, is the idea of family-tracking new? Or did other smarty pants already think of it?

I’ve not tried this idea. My parents would probably be too stressed out to do this. The idea of group tracking with more abstract, non-shared goals is not new, mastermind groups and provide each group member support and encouragement as well as accountability for their goals, but I’ve never tried to do this in a quantitative way such as time-tracking.

(5) In your analysis, did you discover some variation of the Pareto Principle in your self-tracking data? Shouldn’t we just track the 20% that accounts for 80% of our results in life? The ONE Thing by Gary Keller suggests that we keep applying the 80–20 rule until we cannot do it anymore. Hence the title of the book: The ONE Thing. What do you think of the idea of tracking ONE activity?

That might be an interesting idea, but before going further do you know what that 20% is? I would argue most people who might want to do this time-tracking thing probably doesn’t.

As for your second question: If you track only one thing, you’re changing the entire point of time-tracking. Whereas in this idea of mine, I want to track what I do during the day, not how much time I spend on one activity, but all major activities. If you only care about one activity, go ahead, but your spreadsheet will probably look different from the one in this article; you’d probably have one column with the activity name, and each row being a day. The cells would just be the amount of time you spend on that one activity.