Create a Personal Dashboard (How Data Improves Your Life)

Personal Dashboards Autosave Your Life Stats

Just like in a video game, we all have personal stats, but sometimes we forget how far we’ve come throughout the months and years. That’s why we everyone could use a personal dashboard to track and automate their life stats.

Everything is a statistic. How many runs did you do this past month? How many countries have you traveled to? How many hours do you spend working per day?

When did you last read a book? ← Ha, gotcha!

Photo by Fab Lentz on Unsplash

Choose What You Want to Improve on Your Personal Dashboard

Data can help you improve yourself. Maybe you want to get healthier or eat better. Maybe you want to reduce a bad habit.

Whatever it is, if we want to improve, we need to know where we currently are. This is where data comes in and puts numbers to feelings and activities. But be careful; you can’t just track any type of data. It has to be automated (not much manual data entry) and easy to quantify.

Data Requirement #1: Easy to Quantify

Make sure your data isn’t something like I want to feel better.

No. No. No. You need to operationalize your feelings and things you want to improve on.

How about mood measured on a scale of 1–5 (1 being “worst day ever” and 5 being “OMG YAAS, I LOVED TODAY!”). You could rate your day’s mood at the end of the day before you go to sleep with a simple button click on your phone with IFTTT (see below). This way you can see how your average mood (monthly and daily) changes throughout the year.

Data Requirement #2: Automated (as much as possible)

If you try to input every single run you do into a spreadsheet, you’re going to forget it when you’re sweaty and heading for the shower. If you want to track the hours you work, don’t try to log it when you’re in traffic on the highway.

So, don’t rely on yourself… Automate your data collection as much as possible.

How to Automate Data Collection: IFTTT

IFTTT is an API connector that allows you to connect your favorite apps instantly. It also has a mobile app that allows a lot of data to flow automatically from your habits.

Best yet, it’s free and has a mobile app!

For example, you can set your Fitbit to automatically send data to a Google Sheet at the end of the day. You can also set up a GPS zone at your office that sends an email to yourself whenever you enter your work area! Want to log a stat with a button click? Simple! Set up the IFTTT button app to send a new row to a Google Sheet with your data!

IFTTT has endless possibilities, and it’s super cool. Use it!

How to Create Your Personal Dashboard?

Now that we have all of this data, what do we do with it? How can we view and track all of our quantifiable personal statistics to continually improve ourselves?

IFTTT + Google Sheets + Google Data Studio!

Personal Fitness Stats

Photo by Alexander Redl on Unsplash

I like to keep track of my health, and the best way to automate data collection and view my stats is to use a Fitbit tracking watch, IFTTT, and Google Sheets.

Fitbit grabs my daily stats. IFTTT sends the data at the end of the day to Google Sheets. Google Data Studio reads updates from Google Sheets and shows the data on my dashboard.

Fitness Stats to Track

I track steps per day, floors climbed, and miles walked/ran. Many others are automatically sent from Fitbit, but I try to keep it simple.

Personal Reading Stats

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Who doesn’t like to read? Well, apparently from my life dashboard, I haven’t read a book in about a year!

How I set it up: I used an IFTTT integration to text a phone number every time I finish a book. I include the book title in the text message, and IFTTT then zips the book title and the date I finished it to a Google Sheet. Pretty simple!

Reading Stats to Track

I track # of books read per month and types of books (fiction/non-fiction). There are other stats you could track, but these are what works best for me.

As you can see from my dashboard, I’m really far behind on my reading! Eeeks!

Personal Travel Stats

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Got places to go? Countries to see? Me too!

Sometimes I forget about all the places I’ve been, so I track them in my life dashboard!

I’ve created a Google Sheet where I input all of the countries that I’ve been to, and I’ve set up a map on my Life Dashboard to show when I’ve been to that country.

Not very automated per se, but I guess I could set up an automation for each country once I step into the GPS area of the airport. However, I’m not in the mood for doing that for a TON of countries. Easiest way: just do a Google spreadsheet and connect it to Google Data Studio.

Travel Stats to Track

I track the country I traveled to and the year I traveled to it. There are other stats of course, but meh. I’m lazy.

Stats to Your Heart’s Desire!

Photo by Stephen Dawson on Unsplash

Whatever you want to get better at or keep track of, put it on your life’s personal dashboard!

Minutes meditating.

Work Hours.

Watching T.V.

Whatever!

Everything is data. You just need to find a way to make the data entry as automated and quantifiable as possible to get it onto your personal dashboard.

Once you do, you can start to see trends. For me, it’s clear that April 2020 was a bad fitness month (Can you guess why?!). I also realize that I need to start reading again. And oh, my body is dying for more steps!

TL;DR — Improve yourself with personal stats on your one personal dashboard for free!

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