There has been some talk recently about the act of tracking activities making the activity less enjoyable. The Atlantic, in particular, seems to be recently hating on the idea of the Quantified Self, with pieces saying how measuring activities makes you enjoy them less (the "Quantified Welp") and how tracking things can make leisure feel more like work.
And, that shouldn't be surprising. If you are more focused on the quantification/tracking of that activity, you are less focused on actually being present and enjoying the activity itself. But these articles assume people actually enjoy that activity in the first place or that their goal is to enjoy it more - someone tracking steps may actually not ENJOY being active but does it for the greater purpose of being healthy.
Why Track? Because you WANT something specific.
People track their activities for a variety of reasons, but I imagine the top ones are:
- They are interested in learning more about themselves
- They are interested in becoming a better self through behavioral change
- They are interested in monitoring and controlling something
- The actual act of tracking and analyzing is fun for some
- To appreciate the challenge or accomplishment in doing something
...missing from this hypothesized list is that people track activities just to have more fun doing those activities.
To use the example from the article, I might track the amount of pages I read because I want to read more...because it's important to read and learn. So while I may not enjoy the activity as much, tracking it will drive me to do it more in the first place, which is my goal. If I already read a lot and really enjoy it, I wouldn't track it.
You should measure things when you have specific tracking-related goals in mind for that activity.
If you're skiing and your goal is to be present in the outdoors and enjoy the thrill of skiing, there is no reason to (or goal in) tracking it. However, if your goal is to have fun in seeing how much distance you can cover in a day of skiing or topping your previous max speed, then tracking can directly relate to your goal.
So track things when your goal directly relates to quantifying an aspect of it. If not, don't worry about the data and just enjoy the time doing the activity.
At DayPoint we believe in tracking your days and time to become aware of where your time goes, and then using that information to spend more time doing the things you enjoy with the people you love. Beyond that, there is no need to be measuring these things you love outside of just reminding yourself to allocate time for these things and be present when doing them.
So, tracking will help you practice Timefulness and drive you to that activity with intention but, once there, be present.
Enjoy the activity and enjoy the people.
Enjoy the time.