Tracking Things

January 3, 2024

Tracking things can be complicated – I did a whole podcast episode on that.

However, I’m currently doing a good bit of tracking. Most of it is not going to be in any permanent record format — I don’t need or want it to. It’s the act of tracking I find that helps me even if the collections are somewhat transient (ie, may be discarded at year’s end).

Analog tracking in my planner(s):

Family health + hormonal cycles (in Hobonichi cousin annual pages)

Pages read (on the monthly pages of C&P disc bound that I use for longer term goals + lists that I don’t feel the need to make digital)

Daily habits (in my little metric box) – meditation, outside, reading, music, Duolingo

Minutes of screen time – I’m not as focused on this but right now I still write it on my daily page

Meals – no measuring or counting anything, just pure qualitative like “salmon sushi bowl” not some breakdown of macros and #s. (I know some people find this weird or over-the-top; personally I feel like this practice helps me to stay on top of protein intake and generally encourages more strategic choices that support my fitness pursuits and feeling good. I’m definitely not suggesting anyone else do this if they don’t want to!)

Media – something I started playing with a couple of months ago and really like. I am always surprised by just how much there is in this category over the course of a day! There is so much coming at us at all times – I wanted to give some consciousness to what I was choosing to watch/read/listen to/absorb. Kind of like with nutrition, I don’t have any specific goals, just that I like to be aware of my choices and have them be intentional.

Task completed – I mean, somewhat. I always create a daily list and either check them off or put a — through them if I decided not to do them or a migration symbol if I will push them forward, so this serves as a record of sorts

Time – I am loosely doing this in my Hobonichi right now just using the preprinted timeline.

Experiences – I am writing about one experience per day in my A6 experience notebook (well – I’ve just started this, we will see if I can keep it up!)

Paid Leave taken – on the yearly calendar page, to ensure I don’t run out of days before year’s end

Digitally tracked (via apps or documents):

Books read (via the blog! Though also now in the disc bound since I’m doing pages read there!)

Sleep, but I don’t think it’s very accurate (Apple Watch). I kind of want an Oura ring, but it’s another thing to manage and I’m not sure I REALLLLYYYY need any more data of any kind, really!

Spending in YNAB; net worth (only look at this quarterly) in Google Sheets

Various financial things (for tax purposes) in Excel and NannyPay

Workouts in Strava (with data from my Apple Watch); various health metrics via my watch/phone’s Health App

Workout details in Google Sheets (specifically for my running coach to provide feedback, this is just how they are set up)

RVU production (via EPIC, the electronic health record)

?? Not really much else (or much else that I know of – I’m SURE I’m being tracked by all kinds of tech companies and 3rd parties but I don’t get to peruse that data!)

When I read this it is a LOT (!). I don’t find it takes nearly as much time as one would think, however — I sort of just fill up my planner page throughout the day and take a couple of minutes to write down anything extra (ie the pages read, if a kid is sick, etc).

Do I always do this? NO. Sometimes I will go on vacation and go a few days without even cracking open a planner (I KNOW, THE HORROR) and nothing terrible happens. I am thankfully not THAT attached to tracking rituals. But on a ‘regular old day’ I find they help me and I enjoy doing them, so I do!

PS: There is definitely something in me that likes recording life. I mean duh, I’ve had a blog for nearly 20 years. Am I delusional, thinking that somehow I am defying mortality by ‘saving’ these snippets of life in various forms? I’m not sure, but there is definitely an innate appeal for me. And some others. But not everyone.

What are you tracking this year?

(I do encourage anyone to try media tracking for at least a few days. It’s kind of interesting!)


  • Reply coco January 3, 2024 at 5:57 am

    this is really funny! I had the exact post in mind today!!! hahaha because I finished 2nd brain and wondered whether I need to change my tracking/organization process. I also listened to 2023 review podcast during my run this morning! have you listened to her 2023 10 questions review? I re-listened it today and will do this as well, super interesting to reflect with those prompts.
    I feel like we are tracking similar things except screen time as I find it hard to have to subtract podcast time. once I removed social media from the phone, I don’t feel I am “wasting” time with the phone anymore.
    oh… on what we read/listen/watch, I also want to be more mindful of what I consume, like choosing them knowing why I choose them instead of just accept whatever it’s offered (like with instagram and FB). I have unsubscribe many email list, podcasts, blogs to follow, to minimize my exposure to things and be more selective. Will write a similar post soon 🙂
    oh… why do you use excel for training logs? I have training peaks.
    finally! I love my Oura ring because I keep learning new things that improves my sleep quality, and more mindful when I need to go gentle.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 3, 2024 at 11:06 am

      I joined microcosm before they were using Training Peaks and haven’t made the switch (I think it’s slightly more $ once I switch so I haven’t been in a hurry!)

  • Reply Meredith January 3, 2024 at 7:27 am

    I am still trying to work out my tracking system for this year. I use Goodreads for my reading and that works quite well but the rest is still a work in progress. I’d like to track time spent reading with my son, some odds and sods of daily habits I’m trying to generate, and things such as movies and tv series watched. It’s a mix of trying to instil some tractable discipline (ala Cal Newport) and some memory keeping.

  • Reply Gillian January 3, 2024 at 7:35 am

    I track quite a bit. Obviously To-Dos, schedule (though I don’t always update during the day-I will trime track formally next week in LV’s spreadsheet), food (about the same level as you), gratitude, reading, and now the Bach pieces listened to. I also track my weight daily a long with a few other health metrics like headaches and periods. I know weighing daily and tracking is not good for everyone, but for me it really helps me get a sense of what my body is doing and adjust accordingly. I only weigh at home on my scale–so I never get on a scale while traveling…It works for me.

  • Reply Elisabeth January 3, 2024 at 9:05 am

    Just a quick comment to say buy the Oura! I bought myself one for my birthday in 2023 and love mine (even if it’s more data, some of which I can get from my Galaxy watch).

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 4, 2024 at 9:09 am

      Every Oura owner seems to be so happy with it! Will continue to ponder 🙂

  • Reply Lisa's Yarns January 3, 2024 at 9:17 am

    I do not track very much! I track my workouts and use a letter to indicate the type of workout, like S for strength, R for run, H for HIIT, etc. And then I track what days I am in the office. I hate that I have to do that but my company has really cracked down on the in-office requirement. They track your badging data but for someone like me who travels, my average is always going to be pretty low. A couple of times when I’ve been sick, I’ve had to email HR to tell them I can’t be in so that I don’t end up on the “naughty list.” I fear people are going to come in when they are sick since it’s being in 3 days/week is so important. The company has said, “please don’t come in if you are ill” and also “please make sure your average is at least 3 days/week.” If you dig yourself into a hole by being out for a week, it’s very hard to climb back out of that hole…

    One new thing I’m doing this year is a 5-year journal although as I type this I realized I did not write in it last night. Whoops.

  • Reply Sara January 3, 2024 at 9:18 am

    I have found that I never stick with tracking things outside of an app. At this point I think I’m only tracking:

    – Books! I’ve been tracking via GoodReads for seven years but recently brought my GR data to StoryGraph. For now I’m going to use both but at some point I may switch fully to SG. I love having a record of what I’ve read (I have more than once gone to add something to my TBR and then realized I already it 😬) and having an easy place to record any book that I’d like to read.

    – I’ve been tracking bike rides via Strava for 8+ years and I love having this data! Unless I accidentally forget to turn it on/unpause, I record all my rides — from a two mile trip to the grocery store to doing a city bike tour in another country while on vacation.

    I also have all the Apple Health app data but I tend to not wear my Apple Watch when I’m sick so it’s incomplete. (I’m on day 4 of covid and haven’t worn my watch since before I tested positive).

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 3, 2024 at 1:39 pm

      haha I love seeing how my physiology changes while sick so I always wear it … lol

  • Reply Coree January 3, 2024 at 12:11 pm

    I track books via StoryGraph, exercise via Strava, and then Counter to track numbers for outdoor hours, international books, volunteer hours, readalouds with T and a few cost per wear stats that I’m nerdy about tracking. I’m also trying to do 365 sun salutations this year.

    I’m doing a tick box on my daily to do list if I’m happy with my use of screens for the day. I am not sure that a strict number works for me, it makes sense to blast through email on the bus etc.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 4, 2024 at 9:08 am

      StoryGraph definitely seems to be increasing in popularity!!

  • Reply Jennifer January 3, 2024 at 3:23 pm

    Try the AutoSleep app for analyzing your iWatch sleep data. I’m a fan

  • Reply Emily January 3, 2024 at 4:30 pm

    Interesting question–this made me realize I really do not track much at all! Just books read (on Goodreads and separately in an Apple Note) and workouts completed. Maybe I should track more (because I do really feel like I get a lot out of workout tracking and book tracking!)…I also have a to do list in Apple Notes and just delete items when they’re done but not sure if that’s really tracking. I also do a yearly calculation of our network and keep that saved.

  • Reply Leni January 3, 2024 at 4:40 pm

    I try to take into account why I track an activity in my choice of tracking system: It doesn’t really matter to me whether I’ll be able to run a (half) marathon this year, what really matters is spending time outdoors: I only count my runs, but I don’t collect any more data. Accordingly, I refrain from tracking anything that might make feel bad if I fail (hours studied, no category for € spent on coffee to go in my spending log, obviously: calories, media would definitely fall into that for me). Exception: Really important habits (taking meds).
    I’m still looking for a good system for tracking activities that do not happen regularly. A few days later, I usually won’t remember when or how often something happened. I’d love to learn even more about your tracking processes!

  • Reply Kate Furst January 3, 2024 at 5:35 pm

    Hi Sarah, I see in your To do list, you have a blp episode. I’m curious, when you do your daily planning do you include your blp/blpa tasks? Do you mix your blp differently in your daily planning to the way you plan your clinical work tasks (not so much seeing patients which I can see is very set but other clinic related tasks).

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 4, 2024 at 9:08 am

      In that example, it was 1/2 (a non-clinical day). So my task list was a mix of podcast and home type tasks. On a clinical day I usually have only a couple of tasks to be done either at lunchtime or at home apart from work hours OR perhaps some work related tasks (not the “core” work task of seeing patients bc that doesn’t need to go on a list, but other adjunctive random stuff). My lists usually are shorter on clinical days!!

      • Reply Kate January 6, 2024 at 4:38 am


  • Reply Omdg January 3, 2024 at 8:14 pm

    Huh… I track my vo2 max and mostly watch it decline. I thought about tracking what books I read in a year, but now that seems excessive bc literally nobody but me cares. I stopped tracking my sleep bc it made my sleep worse, soooooo… I guess I do track my workouts, but mostly that’s through my Apple Watch so I don’t really have to do anything.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 4, 2024 at 9:10 am

      yep, it’s SOOOO individual. PS: If your HR data is off, the VO2 max data will be garbage too. I just figured this out (I get cadence lock a lot on my runs which means my watch thinks my HR is 190 when it’s really 155 . . )

      • Reply Omdg January 4, 2024 at 12:49 pm

        My watch often has a hard time picking up my HR at all, and we have a lot of hills by the house. These are all likely reasons. 🙂 I probably should track my weights so I can see my progress more easily with that. Do you have a way you like to do that?

  • Reply Elisabeth January 4, 2024 at 9:20 am

    My husband has an Oura ring and LOVES it. LOVES. IT. I don’t have one yet and don’t really like wearing extra things on my hands besides wedding rings, but I’m tempted.

  • Reply San January 6, 2024 at 4:25 pm

    This does sound like a very long list of things to track, but I am sure if I wrote up a list of things I track, it would be just as long. A lot of those things kinda get tracked “automatically”, so it’s not s chore in itself.

    I love to hear that someone also uses YNAB. I’ve been using it for 8 years, I think and it’s been a great tool for budgeting and tracking.

  • Reply Stephany January 7, 2024 at 10:21 pm

    Hmm… what do I track? I do a lot of tracking for what I’m reading – on Goodreads and on a separate spreadsheet. I track my goals on my blog (though I’m going to move into also using a bullet journal for that). I’d like to be better about tracking daily habits/routines and media like you do! I may also do that in a bullet journal – or perhaps I’ll finally settle on a planner that I like to help me with that.

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