10 – Data, tracking and the ups and downs of doing so

Tune into Episode 10 – Data, tracking and the ups and downs of doing so right here in your browser, find it on your favourite platform (head here for the links) or keep reading for a transcript.

Hi, hello and welcome to this episode of the Rules Are Made Up – before we dive into today’s topic, I do quickly want to preface this with the short announcement that I’m recording this in my living room at the coffee table with a snoring sleeping puppy next to me. So if you hear some weird sounds, it’s Chewie snoring which is adorable, but I’m not using any fancy tech, today’s so you may well hear him in the background, but that’s OK because we’re all about getting shit done and it not having to be perfect and not creating some weird random rules for, you know, a lot of stuff that we have to do. Like my brains trying to tell me I shouldn’t record this, I should wait until my husband’s home so I can lock myself in the office and use the microphone and use my headphones and make this sound amazing. 

But actually, the point of me recording this in the first phase is a) to tell you that rules a lot of the rules that we try to adhere to our made up and so we need the question them, so I’m practicing what I’m trying to help you with but also I’ve just forgot my second point… I am operating on little sleep so there’s that, but anyway, neither of those things are what I actually want to chat about today. 

I wanted to talk a little bit more about data and metrics and tracking information in our lives and how that can be incredibly helpful, but also some things to watch out for when you are tracking, or if you are thinking about tracking certain things. 

So to start with, what can you track or measure? It’s pretty much anything really in terms of what you want to be tracking, it probably depends on your goals or if you’ve got something in particular that you want to gain insights on.  

So you know there will be different ways that you can capture information but it really is up to you and it really depends, that good old “it depends”, but let’s take a common example, like working out right. 

You want to track your runs or you workout so you’ll probably use an Apple Watch or a Fitbit or some kind of other, Garmin like whatever, like a fitness watch type situation and they can be really really helpful, right? 

Because they have a lot of built-in features that might remind you to keep walking or standing, or you know that to keep moving throughout the day so that you don’t sit down all the time, which is probably a good thing. 

And they help you measure you know how your workout was like, how intense was it, how long was it and you know over a span of time, they will also tell you how many times, say during the week you actually moved, right? Or you exercised on purpose, you worked out, you trained whatever language you use here. 

And it’s awesome, especially if you’re someone that’s trying to improve how much you work out or how long your workouts are. That information can be really helpful, especially because it then also lets you look back on the facts, right? If you’ve taken a week or two of gathering the data, of gathering information can start to look back on it and basically look at OK, I said I wanted to workout three days a week, what does the data tell me right? And that data being the recorded workouts, on your watch or on your device, whatever it is and no one can dispute that data, right? That’s a great thing about data, it’s objective information if you and I look at the same bit of information, we see the same right? If I look over two weeks of workouts completed and you’ve done 3 workouts a week, we both see six workouts completed, awesome. 

Where I want to give you a bit of a “be careful here” or you make sure you consider how you’re using the data and how you’re using the information is what you then make that information mean. Because you could look at having completed 3 workouts a week over 2 weeks, so you’ve done 6 workouts. You could look at that and go to town with your inner critic. 

Which might sound like being lazy and that you’ve wanted to do 4 workouts or five workouts, and you know you just fucking suck because you didn’t get it done and you know maybe other shit happened and you just didn’t plan properly and you know, like you see where this is going…  

Or you could look at the same information, right it’s still 6 workouts completed over a two week time period. You could look at that and go well, for me I’ve done pretty well, I’ve done 3 workouts. 

Over the span of two weeks, 3 workouts each week over the span of two weeks have done 6 workouts over 2 weeks and you know the two weeks before that I only did 2, which your brain probably conveniently forgot in the previous negative example… 

So the same piece of information can mean different things, or you can make it mean different things right in an Instagram post that I’ll link in the show notes here. I recently shared my reflection on March with my Apple Watch, funnily enough, and how I firstly didn’t wear it every single day, I barely completed all of the rings, which is usually like a “yay, you’ve completed all your rings” and you know, I barely worked out. 

And I could look at that and go “well fuck, this is just horrible, I’m getting so out of shape, I’m not fit, I’m  coming up with all the excuses and that’s just shit. OR I could look at that same amount of information, right and still the information doesn’t change, HOW I’m viewing and interpreting it does. And that’s the important part, right?  

I could also look at that piece of information and go “well, firstly, I usually don’t wear my watch on the weekends. That’s just a thing that I do.” But then in the beginning of the month, I mean, I was about to say the world was on fire, but the world still fucking IS on fire. But certain global events kind of got to me a little bit more than I thought they would at the beginning of the month and then around the 11th (or 12th I want to say) of March, that’s when we bought Chewie home.  

And then from then on my sleep and recovery took a nosedive and even on the days that I felt OK to move, my hammy injury played up a bit and I just decided, you know what? Maybe resting is the right thing to do here, because I’m not getting a lot of good sleep and working out & lifting weights is just adding more stress. So again, two different ways that we can look at the same piece of information. 

Why am I telling you all of this? 

At the end of the day, I think collecting data and information is awesome. I’m a logical, a very logical thinker and very analytical, I love looking at information, I like spreadsheets, I like stats and I find that kind of information incredibly helpful and useful to inform my decisions. 

But, and it’s a big one – it’s taken me a long, long time to figure out how to remain objective most of the time when I look at that data and that information and THAT right there is the hardest fucking part. 

It’s managing your mind when you’re looking at the data that you’re collecting because your mind, your brain will want to tell you certain things about the information that may or may not be true. 

Even if it’s objective information right? If you and I both look at the same set of data, your brain will try and tell you something different to what I would see – that’s why having a coach in your back pocket can be such an incredibly valuable thing? I don’t even know the right phrase to use there…  but anyway, having a coach can be incredibly helpful because they can see things that you can’t, or they can help your view things differently, right? They can help you reframe, they can help you manage those thoughts, manage your mind and approach your goals and the associated behaviors with a different mindset, right? 

And if you’re listening to this episode, and you’re wondering, well, actually I have been a bit of a dick to myself and I do want to do some work on reframing my thoughts, being less of a dick to myself, approaching my goals with a bit more compassion instead of judgement then let’s have a chat. That can be an actual chat over Zoom or it can be messages on whichever platform we’re connected or it can mean you fill out the application form on my website and then I’ll be in touch to figure out if we’re good fit for each other and if we are, then we’ll chat about next steps and take it from there. 

With that all being said, this went on a little bit longer than I thought it would so I’ll bring it to a close. Thank you for listening and I’ll chat to you next time. 

Links for you:
The IG post I reference in the episode