Measure and Optimize

A theme that is running through many areas of my life right now is measure and optimize. I seem to be continually collecting and analyzing statistics about myself and things around me.

What I measure

I keep a daily journal of food I eat, water I drink, and exercise I complete in My Fitness Pal. I pour over my site traffic in Google Analytics trying to decipher patterns and meaning. I record time and tasks for all the work I do in Harvest. I record the books I read and my progress in each book in GoodReads. I track our family finances using Quicken. My church life group leader asked our group to keep a spreadsheet of people we’re actively seeking to invest in.

Technology makes collecting data on different topics very easy, but the real value isn’t in the mundane collecting of data. The value I get from the data comes after I optimize what is being measured.

Why Optimize

Optimizing my food intake and daily exercise produces better health.

Optimizing website data produces better conversion and better revenue.

Optimizing my work time produces better work life balance.

Optimizing and tracking the books I read helps me reach a personal goal.

Optimizing our finances helps keep us financially fit.

Optimizing my list of people I invest in helps me have satisfying and fruitful relationships.

How I Optimize

When optimizing each of the datasets above I ask these kinds of questions:

Why am I doing this? (Or Does this still matter to me?)

My health, income, finances, personal goals, personal relationships all matter to me so normally the answer to this question is “Yes.” But, I keep asking it just in case I need to stop doing something.

What would the perfect numbers look like?

This is nothing more than having a goal. Target monthly revenue. Target calories per day. Target weight. Goal number of books read in a year.

What needs to change to make the numbers better?

Collecting data is useless unless it prompts action. If the data isn’t changing the way you act then you might have answered incorrectly to the first question. What can be changed to get closer to the goal.

If anything is worth doing it’s worth optimizing!