Quantified Self for College Students
If you haven’t heard of this new movement yet, Quantified Self is a push to start measuring and keeping track of data about your body and your life.
For a college student, this may seem a little bit ridiculous. Why does it matter if I know exactly how many minutes I was at the gym as long as I worked hard and got in a good workout? Well, the small things that may seem irrelevant now will make your life much easier in the future (e.g. when visiting a new doctor and you need to give a data dump).
The quantified-self movement isn’t just tracking health, though; it’s also for productivity and any metric that you could possibly use to improve your day-to-day actions. So with all the quantified-self movement, what should you as a college student be tracking right now?
One of the most vital aspects of your health is maintaining a high level of activity. For most people this would mean tracking your workouts, but it should really be much more than that. Even when you are walking from class to class, you are technically burning calories and exercising.
For college students, one of the easiest ways to do this would be to use a Fitbit Flex or Jawbone UP. Either one is well worth the investment, as it tracks and helps easily find quantitative metrics associated with your workout — such as the intensity, duration, and calories burned. Both have fantastic apps for smartphones with plenty of options for viewing and backing up your data.
If you are using a Fitbit Flex or a Jawbone UP, then you’ve already got your sleep tracking covered. But if you don’t, using a sleep tracking app could really help you improve your sleep quality and feel more energetic throughout the day. If you have an Android or iPhone, you can easily just download an app.
SleepBot is a full-featured app for Android and iPhone that works great. All you have to do is set it up by pressing the “start sleep” button and then placing it on your bed and you can easily just fall asleep. It records sound and movement and can easily tell you if you had a restless night’s sleep or a good night’s sleep. Best of all, it even includes strategies and tips on how to improve your sleep and stay energized throughout the day.
For those college students on a diet — or any student for that matter — keeping track of your nutrition can not only help improve long-term health, but also just performance in day-to-day activities. In addition to keeping track of calories, it’s also vital to keep track of other nutrients, such as your vitamins, fat intake, carbs and sodium.
There are plenty of apps out there to do this and no one is really that much better than the other. Just find an app that works for you and plan to log all the food you eat.
Editor’s Note: MyFitnessPal is an incredible app that I highly recommend for food and fitness logging.
As a college student, browsing for a few memes here or checking out a few cuties on Facebook there can build up and take away from your time to do homework and be productive. This isn’t to say that you can’t have fun — just that you need a balance and it’s not easy to maintain that balance.
Many people find that using a site like Toggl works well. Personally, I found it to be just a little bit easier to just use a Google Spreadsheet to track my time. I just have each row represent 15-minute chunks and each column represent the day. Then I just type in whatever the activity is and use a background color to classify it as school, social, or work related.
It’s really useful for tracking:
- Volunteer and work hours: Super helpful for finding out how much you should be paid or what you can put on your resume.
- Time spent studying/doing homework for a class: This makes it easy to see what classes are harder for you and also helps schedule how much time you should spend on homework
- How close you are to “mastering” a skill: They say that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. Track how much time you are spending and use that as motivation to become an expert.
If you’re like most college students, at some point, you’ll go on a spending spree, buying lots of things you don’t need – like fancy clothes or an iPad.
To beat this, keeping track of money is extremely important. If you haven’t already, set up an account on Mint or Kiboo to help track your spending and monitor your account. Also, you could apply for a Simple Card to replace your debit card; it’s a prepaid debit card so you literally cannot spend more money than you have. Plus, it has a large set of money-tracking and money management features.
Hopefully, with all this data, you can start adjusting your life and making changes to your current routine and habits so that you can live a better life.
About the Author: Quinn Winters is a student studying Computer Science, Mathematics, and Political Science at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. He spent his summer in the Bay Area interning for a company that provides online English tutoring to high school and college students. He is a startup enthusiast and always willing to connect over the sweet nectar of the gods, coffee. You can find him on Twitter @Quinn_Winters or his personal website.
Image: Juhan Sonin