The Year I Tracked Everything (almost)
This is my first ever year in review. 2015 was a really transformative year for me and it was one of the first times in my life I made tangible goals I wanted to accomplish and not just empty resolutions that I’d end up forgetting about 3 months in. So, here’s a breakdown of how I spent my year.
I decided to try the whole quantified self thing out which I explained in this post. My intention with this report was to be inspired by
Nicholas Felton but I’m not as talented as he is with data visualization and I wanted to tell a bit more of a story with my words with just visual accents whereas his are sort of the opposite.
I started out strong at the beginning of the year tracking but then some of the things I was trying to keep a record of just got too overwhelming to track because some of the things required manual input by me and no one enjoys doing enormous amounts of data entry. I felt like I was staring at my phone more than I already was and that was no bueno.
Areas that I tracked pretty well:
- Work & Digital
- Health & Fitness
- Travel & Transportation
WORK + DIGITAL
At the beginning of 2015 I quit my job to travel. I did a lot of writing after that because I was working on a book. Writing was hard but I powered through it anyway because it felt really good.
Travel caught up with me around May/June and I wasn’t doing as much design-related work as I had planned and wasn’t really seeking out clients either. I was really enjoying the time off to recharge. I wasn’t working on writing my book as often and sometimes not at all. I wasn’t doing a lot of design aside from experimenting with new styles and designing some work for side projects.
I took a lot of pictures in 2015…although I feel like I could have captured even more moments but I haven’t really gotten into the habit of reaching for my camera during those moments. Maybe that’s a good thing and maybe it’s not – capturing memories vs. immersing yourself is such a controversial topic for me.
I also spent a ton of time on YouTube watching videos. Most of them were focused on learning new skills in design and programming so I don’t feel bad about that.
HEALTH + FITNESS
My fitness routine at the beginning of 2015 was amazing. I was working out ~4-5 days a week, was eating really good, and meditating around 20-30 minutes every day. I was preparing healthy meals for the week on Sunday and mostly following through with the diet I set for myself. I was eating a ton of chicken, beans, salad, and fruit. When I started to travel, that’s when I realized how much my body was being affected by not exercising and eating right. It took it’s toll and I think that lent itself to me not being motivated to work or pursue new projects. I really fell off at the end of the year with exercise but I started eating right again once I moved to San Francisco in August because I was able to cook consistently again.
Towards the end of the year I started to read more books. It was very difficult at first to sit down with a book for any extended period of time. Like…annoyingly difficult. I eventually got used to it though and found it a different form of meditation for myself. It was awesome and refreshing.
TRAVEL + TRANSPORTATION
I Uber’d and flew what I would consider a lot in 2015. Relatively. I also started my trip this year and as I mentioned in a previous post, things weren’t really what I expected but I think I made the right move because now I can travel a little less stressfully while having a life. I’ll be in Berlin, Amsterdam, and Oslo at the end of April so we should totally get together if you’re there =]
I did considerable worse in this category because I was living off of savings for most of the year and I happened to be traveling so I splurged a bit on entertainment and having a great time too. I don’t regret it because I had some amazing experiences. I’m doing much better in this regard so far in 2016 though even though my cost of living has shot through the roof after moving to San Francisco (oh how I wish my rent was still sub $1k…).
Overall, the tools I used to track everything were pretty sparse and it was hard to pool all of the data without doing a ton of manual entry into a spreadsheet. I hope I can find some better ways to track things in 2016 but I want to give a huge shoutout to Anand Sharma for creating Gyroscope. What he has created and some of the plans he and his team surely have are going to put anything else to shame. I’m very excited for the features they are going to cook up and release this year.
Looking back and seeing the data made me come to some really great realizations about how I spend and manage my time and I need to start doing a better job of that. I missed a lot of opportunities last year because I procrastinated and didn’t follow through on some of the goals that I set for myself.
Since poor time management was such a big sticking point for me last year, my focus in 2016 with be improving that significantly. I’ll also be placing a huge focus on:
- Creating better design work in both my personal and professional projects (like illustrations, animations, and layouts)
- Reach out to and meet up with great people in my field and other fields that I’m interested in (Through conferences, meetups, and self-initiated conversations)
- Communicate with and visit with my family more
- Visit my friends all over the world (Germany, Norway, Sweden, South Africa) and go to Japan, Iceland, or both at some point
- Be happy and share more (With myself & others)
As an aside, a very significant thing happened to me in 2015. I lost my father, role model, hero, and friend to a 10 year battle with cancer. Not even 10 years of that looming in the background can prepare you for a loss like that. He passed away in November.. Life goes on though – it’s bittersweet. He doesn’t have to deal with all the treatments and the pain anymore yet he isn’t here…and it fucking sucks more than anything I can think of.
I hope everyone is having a great 2016! Please let me know what your big (or small) goals are this year – I’m always inspired by others.