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Grovember - Part 2

05 Dec 2013

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Grovember has officially come to an end. With over a month’s worth of data collected, perhaps now I can gain some insights on my life. And of course, what fun would those be if they didn’t come with some foxy graphs!

Where is my time going?

As you may recall from Part 1, my primary goals were programming, practicing French, and traveling. It appears I’m doing alright with that last one (traveling takes up about 15% of my time), and not so hot with the rest. Sleep is inevitable, but I can work on cutting out “no goal”. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that as this experiment progressed and I became more and more aware of where my time went, my wasted time decreased. Let’s see if the data agrees.

The first week was our half-term break, so all the serious business traveling left no time to be wasted. After that, “no goal” spiked and indeed gradually came back down week by week.

“No goal” as the name implies means anything that doesn’t achieve a goal of mine. This includes the range from grocery shopping to stalking people on Facebook, so not all of it can be completely removed – Facebook is vital for survival. If I want to make room for more goal-oriented work, for sure the first place to look for change is within my internet browsing habits. Here’s a graph of how that breaks down:

My Facebook usage is frankly atrocious. I don’t even know what I do on there all day. Facebook has been called the tech equivalent of cigarettes, which just goes to show that if I ever got into smoking, I’d be a hopeless addict.

Digging Deeper to Deeper Sleep

My most time-consuming category is sleep by a long shot. Sleep accounts for 34% of my time. As far as I can tell sleeping for a third of our lives is normal, so I don’t want to jeopardize my health by doing less of it. But maybe I could do “better” at it.

With Sleep Cycle I track my quality of sleep. I haven’t felt a noticeable difference on the days I supposedly had higher quality sleep, but it probably wouldn’t hurt to figure out how I can optimize for it.

In this month I slept both the most and the best on Tuesdays. I slept the worst on Saturday and the least on Sunday. On average I slept 7.6 hours per day.

In the usual case, more sleep equals higher quality sleep. Therefore observations based on the quality alone aren’t particularly useful. Any trends may just be due to me sleeping more – it makes more sense to use the ratio of amount of sleep to quality of sleep and see what factors affect that. I found the following factors to be correlated with a change in the ratio:

I expected all of those except for drinking coffee. I was convinced caffeine would negatively affect sleep. Well, coffee-drinkers rejoice! Yet another reason to brew that morning roast.

We see now what affects sleep, but what does sleep affect? If I’m going to be spending so much time on it, it better be doing something for me. I want my money’s worth.

I wondered if I lazed around and wasted more time when I wasn’t well rested, and if I was more social when I was well rested. I plotted my sleep along with the amount of goal-less hours and time I spent with other people. I considered adding the sleep-quality ratio, but I didn’t know how to normalize the data in a way that wouldn’t cause statisticians to commit genocide.

If the graph is too cluttered to read, you can click on the legend to hide some of the lines.

You may have noticed some days labeled as polyphasic. That means I either embraced the European culture of siestas or I took naps to compensate for a long night, so the hours of sleep listed are a sum of several smaller sessions. They are more likely to be outliers.

Looking at the graph, it seems the no goal curve roughly follows the sleep curve, and the socialization curve is the inverse of it. Not what I expected at all. It might just mean that more sleep time is less social time, as opposed to a direct effect. And it is worth keeping in mind that hours surrounded by people don’t necessarily equate to sociability. The no goal part of that, I have no explanation.

As for sleep quality, no goal follows its curve at first, then becomes the inverse near the end of the month. I’m going to rule that as a no relation and I just surged with productivity near the end of the month or something.

So the conclusion seems to be sleep has no impact on neither my hours of socialization nor hours wasted. I suspect it affects more so moods during those, which I unfortunately don’t have any metrics to back up.

My Social Network

The second major activity on my charts is socializing. This includes everything from YouTube parties to grabbing a pint at a bar.

There’s not much to analyze here, but the numbers interest me. 54% of my waking hours I spent with other people. Here’s who I spent those hours with:

As mentioned in Part 1, most are likely to be overestimates. I still don’t have a simple yet accurate way of recording my time with people.

47% of days that involved socializing also involved drinking. I socialized the most on Fridays and the least on Tuesdays. I drank most often on Thursday and Friday.

Part 3?

I didn’t get conclusive answers on some of the deeper questions. One month’s stats weren’t enough to yield patterns. Therefore I’m going to keep up the data collection for another while longer and analyze again in a month or two. If I get some fascinating new findings I’ll make another post, but most likely it won’t be worth sharing. Who knows. With the insights from this, I may experience drastic changes.

I’m considering adding more daily measurements as well – my mood, my focus, etc. But those are very subjective, and can vary too much throughout the day, so it’d be hard to get an accurate depiction. I’ve seen TagTime and Reporter but I don’t think those are the solutions for me. I’d rather not be attached at the hips to my phone, and they seem like massive focus-breaking context switchers. If anyone knows of other solutions, I’d be happy to hear about them. I can be reached via Twitter.


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