Journey to Awesome: Methods, Trends and Initial Reactions

Well, I’m literally 7 days into tracking my self-improvement now.  While it’s too early to show any trends yet, I just wanted to take a few minutes and go through how I am tracking and some initial trends and thoughts.

Methods of Tracking

Two words: Excel and Dropbox.  All my tracking goes on within a spreadsheet that is in my dropbox, which I update either at home or at work.  I’ve got extensive experience with Excel, so this is coming in very handy to me.  I was contemplating using a Google Docs spreadsheet, but I find that I want to make this as robust as possible so I don’t want to limit myself to web-only.  If I have to start making macros and the such, Excel is bar none the most powerful spreadsheet out there.

And Dropbox?  Get it.  It’s a lifesaver.  By combining the two of these, I’ve essentially made the budget online-only (like Google Docs) but with the complete functionality of Microsoft Excel.  The best of both worlds in my opinion.

Health, Energy & Fitness

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, I wanted to make the tracking as easy as possible, and on as few tabs as possible.  I’ve made a tracking sheet for eating, drinking and fitness all on one sheet.

I’m tracking all my meals on a scale of 1-10, where 10 is basically a vegan or lean-meat paleo dinner, and 1 is a Big Mac combo or a restaurant cheeseburger with a couple pints included.  I know what works for me, I don’t need to track exactly what I put in my mouth every day.  This at least gives a few trends I can work with, and as you can see, I’m already improving my meals already.  If I want to go on a strict diet, I can just up the target number from 45 up to 50 or even 55 and push myself that way.

On the other end of this spreadsheet, there are some more inputs I enter every day, and they look like this:

As you can see, I’m tracking some other miscellaneous items, such as the following:

  • Tea and Water. This isn’t number of cups or glasses, it’s out of a scale of 1-10 as well.
  • Take Out. Something that is important to me.  Am I eating fast food?  I want to track this.
  • Fitness. I’m not doing this on a scale of 1-10, as I know what is considered a workout for me.  Even if it’s a 20-minute run, or a 2-hour blitz at the gym, I’m going to just mark this as a “YES” or “NO” to make it easier.
  • Weight. I only mark it down when I weigh myself.
  • Wrong/Right Comments. Just some general comments on the day’s food.

All in all, this spreadsheet takes me about 60 seconds to fill out – pretty great in my opinion.

Stability and Finances

This spreadsheet is split into three different sections – one I fill out, and then a budget as well as graphing.

The budget, above, is pretty straightforward.  Where am I spending my money.  What category?  A running total, as well as pay type is included.  I wanted to be able to track how often I use my debit card during the month, so that is why I have included the pay type.

Then I have also created myself a budget, as you can see below:

So, what exactly is this?  Well, I’ve automated the following:

  • The income and expenses. When I input my expenses and categories on the tracking sheet, it automatically combines all items that are within that category, plus the month above, and sums them together to give my budget.
  • Formatting. I’ve made items I’ve blown my budget in a nice dark orange (easier to read then red), and the yellow are items to watch out for.
  • A check. There’s a quick check at the bottom to make sure the calculations are working right.

I’ve also got a graph, but there’s not much to see since I’ve only been tracking the finances for a couple weeks (a little longer than the health and fitness sheet).

To-Do Lists

Right now, I’ve created a “long-term” to-do list and a “short term” one.  The short-term one is right on my homepage of my browser as shown below:

Do you like this?  Just install the “tasks” widget from iGoogle.  This, along with my email, and RSS reader, are the only items on my homepage, giving me less noise which is what I want as I track my self-improvement.

I don’t really make my to-do list that complicated, but as I finish items I keep them on the list below so I can keep track of progress.  If I knock off one or two items every night, or take a night off and knock off four or five items the next night, I will stay productive towards my goals.

So, all-in-all, it’s going alright.  However, I just want to go over some initial trends of mine that I’ve seen over the last week, and some other thoughts along the way.

Some General Thoughts

I spend A LOT of money. Way more than I make.  I’m grateful I’m tracking it now.  It’s going to be a long slog to get out of debt.

My habits are better when I track. I eat better, I’m more aware of what I’m spending, and I drink more tea and water.  Pretty fascinating!

It’s too early to have any meaningful graphs. It’s really just some jagged lines.  Give me a month or two and we’ll start to see some serious data trends.

Other, social parts have been left out for now. If I want to track things like how I’m acting at a party, or spontaneity, or my social actions, how do I track this?  I don’t want to become completely OCD while in public or private.  Once I get these fundamentals on auto-pilot (i.e. health and money), I will start to work on the other sections.

Anyway, all in all, I’m enjoying this, and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the trends reveal themselves over the next few months.

What do you think readers?  What else should I be doing to track progress?  Got any tips/software/websites that would be handy to use?