As a fond cyclist in my spare time the concept of measuring personal progress is far from alien. Every ride provides a wealth of statistics for you to mull over, from ride distance to average speed via heart rate and power output. The dedicated amongst the cycling fraternity will also keep a keen eye on their diet, counting how many calories in their diet, carbohydrate levels and protein intake each day.
At an organisational level that kind of behaviour is not unusual either, with a vast array of process improvement methodologies existing to help organisations measure and improve what they do. Governments have a similar barrage of things they like to measuer, be they hospital waiting times or school exam results.
Doing these things as individuals however is much rarer. Cyclists undoubtably are one group that do, along with personal development junkies, fitness freaks and Weight Watcher members. The majority of the population though happily let their day pass without measuring their mood, sleep patterns or diet.
If it’s good enough for athletes though, it should be good enough for you. That doesn’t mean you have to measure everything in your life, but if there’s something you want to get better at then measuring is a great way of helping you achieve that.
The web is fantastic for this. Pretty much everything you do online can be tracked and measured, from how many visits your web page gets to the number of shares you receive on social media. There are some nice (free) tools to help you if you’re not in my line of work though.
- FocusBooster – FocusBooster is based on the Pomodoro Technique, whereby you work for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break and repeat until you’ve done 4 runs through, at which point you take a 20 minute break. FocusBooster makes this process really easy. You input your task and it’ll do the rest for you.
- Chrometa – Chrometa is a desktop monitoring tool that will tell you how much time you’re spending on particular things. So it’ll let you know if you’re spending more time surfing the web than you are doing those spreadsheets or reports.
- xMinutesAt – This one works well in conjunction with Chrometa. The web can be addictive, I’m only too aware of that. xMinutesAt can help you overcome that addiction. You basically tell it how long you want to spend on a particular website and it will pop up a message telling you when your time is up.
- LeechBlock – If you don’t think you can display the self control to obey the popup then you could try LeechBlock instead. With this you allocate yourself a set amount of time for a particular website per day. When your time is up the site is blocked.
- Xobni – Xobni is a real favourite of mine. It’s a plug-in for Outlook that provides a host of additional features. For instance when you are reading an email it will bring up the profile of the sender, together with all other email conversations you’ve had with them, their social media profiles, attachments shared and so on. Of course this blog is about measurement so I should mention that it provides a great analytics breakdown of your email usage, so you can see who you email the most, what time/date you are most often emailing and so on.
A few tools there to help get you thinking.
Have your say
Do you measure what you do at work? What tools do you use?