3 minute read


In any business one of the major things people look at are Key Performance Indicators (or KPIs). In a sales organization they might look at contract value, bookings, average profit margin or quote to close ratios. In an IT organization they may look at average down time, average handle time, time to market or resource utilization.

Each of these tries to paint a picture of how the organization is doing. Using them a person can get an idea of how the department is meeting goals and places where there may be a need to make some adjustments. Taken as a whole investors can know if this company is heading for good things or may take a downturn and should not be invested in.

The same goes for us as people.

There are certain things we can measure which can, over time, give us a good idea of where we are going, how well we are doing in accomplishing our goals and where we may need some help.

When talking about measuring and keeping track of statistics, most people think about their health and even more specifically we either think of weight or BMI. While they are important key statistics, they do not paint a compete picture of health. Instead, just for health alone, we need to combine these and a number of other statistics in order to get a good idea of our health.

But health is not the only thing we are trying to work on. We have goals, dreams, career, personal development, and time with family. These are all things we can track and create performance dashboards around. For example, how much time are we spending with our family? We could track the number of hours each week and see if we are improving or regressing in that area. How much time are we spending on personal development? Both are time based and easily measured.

What about how many of our goals have we accomplished this year? That’s just a count. How are we progressing in reaching that goal? How about an example from my own life?

This year, starting on February first, I had a goal to write every weekday. After I was consistently writing every weekday and it had become a habit, I then modified the goal so it was 250 words every weekday. I haven’t missed a day since. It has become a habit. Because I tracked it.

Now, in addition to tracking if I wrote or not, I also began tracking how many words and how long it took me to write that, as well as how I was feeling at the time or the conditions under which I was writing. All of that data could them be mined later to help determine how long it would take me to write a book or an article of a certain length.

And the more I write, the better over time I will be able to predict how easy certain assignments or writing goals will take me. By reviewing your logs you may find there is more information you want to track as you progress. I certainly progressed in what I wanted to track.

This approach can also be applied to other areas. For example, I want to read for 30 minutes each day. I could track when I read, how many words I read in that timeframe, my retention of the material, and a host of other things. I could create a log which helped me track all this and then use that data to create charts and mine it for useful information later.

So, now the question is: What other areas could this approach be applied to? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

The picture is “Measuring the Stormtrooper ‘How tall are you?’” by Kristina Alexanderson