Posted on Dec 16, 2011 | 2 comments

The title of this post sounds a little funny, but it is actually kind of true. It all stems from something that has been referred to as “life hacking” which is when people devoutly and statistically track some aspects of their life and try and gain results and make improvements from the data. Imagine, for example, that you tracked only two criteria of your life every day: how many hours you slept the night previous and how refreshed you felt at midday on a scale of 1-10. Tracking these numbers for weeks or months would get you enough data that you could arguably find the optimum sleeping amount that would leave you most refreshed due to not under or over sleeping.

Photo Credit - Micah Taylor

Photo Credit – Micah Taylor

A few months ago I started using a smartphone app called LifeUp! (which I don’t believe is available anymore) that tracks different “tasks” or aspects of my life. Each night I simply answer if I accomplished that task and rate my day from 1-5. Each task has a different importance rating so you have some days that are more productive than others because you accomplished more tasks.

Understand that my engineering background makes me a sort of stat nerd, so I know that this sort of practice isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Still, the results that LifeUp! spits out when you have collected enough data can be rather interesting. For example, on days that I work (like, go to my day job), my mood goes down 2.0% but my productivity goes up 8.5%. When I miss work my mood goes up 7.0% but my productivity goes down 39.3%. When it isn’t scheduled (weekends) my mood goes up 2.0% but my productivity goes down 7.5%. Sounds reasonable, right?

So with that in mind, looking at my journal writing statistics can also lend interesting information about what this simple practice can do for my life (I’ll be honest that these numbers look a little weak, but this is probably because I write in my journal each night at the same time I input this information).

When I journal, my mood goes up 0.8% and my productivity goes up 7.1%. When I miss it, my mood goes down 2.7% and my productivity goes down 27.6%. My consistency is at 76.5%.

My analysis of this data? There is a real but mild correlation between my personal journal writing and the effect it has on my daily life. Less apparent and not captured by these numbers is the effect journaling has on my life in general. Qualitatively speaking, the times in my life that I have kept a consistent journal have been more rich and peaceful.

But how do I quantify that?

Does journaling make you happier?

  • Dolly Garland

    While I don’t do happiness percentage and don’t have a nifty statistics system, I would totally agree with your system. If I don’t journal, I am consciously aware of missing something important. For venting, there is no better source. But it’s a source where I can write anything I want, whenever I want, repeat myself, be as rude or as philosophical as I like, and be free. Also, not having kept journals in my younger years, I bitterly regret it and wish I had my childhood memories stored like that, so no way I’m going to repeat that now. 

    • http://www.easyjournaling.com Sam

      I too have large chunks of my youth that have zero journal entries and wonder what I was thinking. The only thing we can do now is make up for lost time… and force our kids!

      By the way, I can’t imagine you being rude, Dolly :)