Zettelkasten Forum


What are your daily metrics?

I've started to track the key metrics for my health and knowledge work each day, but in the past few days I've started to wonder:

What are your most important metrics that you religiously track each day?

Two of the things I'm measuring in my Zettelkasten are:

  • Number of words written today
  • Number of total links

But I'm leaning toward optimizing the latter because it simply adds a number of words as a byproduct.

And for the others:

  • Number of steps each day
  • Hours of Deep Work
  • # of reps (Pike Pushups) - discontinued because of elbow pain...
  • Sleep Quality (1-5) - it's subjective because I don't like to buy fancy trackers. Perhaps "amount of morning sunlight exposure" would be a better metric, since it regulates your circadian clock and shifts it backward if you get it long enough

I feel like having a lot of metrics may be infeasible, but I'm curious how others "quantify their lives" :smile:

Comments

  • A thread on the same topic (or at least similar): https://forum.zettelkasten.de/discussion/1777/measure-what-you-want-to-achieve-with-your-zettelkasten

    I don't track a lot and what I track I don't keep a very close eye on. I like the idea, but it has never really been something which truly worked for me. But here are some things:

    • Days left in my PhD (Yes, I do that to myself)
    • Steps walked
    • New notes in Zettelkasten (counting past week and past month)

    However, while writing out this list, I was reminded of "software with accidental memory". The idea is simply that we leave traces of ourselves everywhere, even in the most mundane software: the network names from vacations, the old friends in our address book and many more poignant ones. In that sense I probably track a lot more: All the unhandled emails in Outlook, all the unhandled tabs in my browser, all the attempted analysis which went nowhere, the loose papers on my desk :smile:

  • @henrikenggaard said:
    However, while writing out this list, I was reminded of "software with accidental memory". The idea is simply that we leave traces of ourselves everywhere, even in the most mundane software: the network names from vacations, the old friends in our address book and many more poignant ones. In that sense I probably track a lot more: All the unhandled emails in Outlook, all the unhandled tabs in my browser, all the attempted analysis which went nowhere, the loose papers on my desk :smile:

    Ah, I saw your post on "lead measures" — it's a very good guideline for metrics, for sure. Is "accidental memory" simply a "random unintentional breadcrumb"? :lol:

    I don't track a lot and what I track I don't keep a very close eye on. I like the idea, but it has never really been something which truly worked for me. But here are some things:

    • Days left in my PhD (Yes, I do that to myself)
    • Steps walked
    • New notes in Zettelkasten (counting past week and past month)

    Haha, "days left in PhD" looks like some catalyst or something :lol: I wasn't much of a "tracker" guy, too, especially in my workouts. Even having a habit tracking notebook on my desk didn't work. The only thing that worked was setting a "Daily Metrics" google sheet as the homepage of my browser. Too weird

  • I track:

    1. number of words in the Zettelkasen (The Archive), through WordCounter.
    2. number of pomodoros

    I ended up tracking only those because:

    1. I know the work on my ZK is high quality and useful not only now but in the future. It really speeds up my work when I find material on my Zk. A good ammount of words here means a productive day to me.
    2. I can do a lot of stuff but working focused on one task feels better than woking on a million things. A good number of pomodoros means a good day.

    Thinking about it, this is a kind of important not urgent metrics (as per the Eisenhower matrix). The first one is an investment and the second one measures well being on my work. There could be other things I could measure, of course, but looking at these gives me a good idea of the day.

  • @d503 that's quite elegant. Where do you get your words, then?

    I've stopped tracking word count because of the large variability (as compared to links) — sometimes I'd read a lot of papers and condense things into a few words, but make a lot of breakthroughs, too. And sometimes I'd read this dense paper with an extremely long experimental design section and I would only type in a couple of words in my notes.

    Anyway, I guess that once you start using the Zettelkasten, you'll never look back. :smile:

  • Will Simpson
    “Read Poetry, Listen to Good Music, and Get Exercise”
    kestrelcreek.com

  • @Will said:

    WOW. Those are impressive!! 👏

    Do most of your metrics update & get recorded automatically? I'd love to have a graph of cumulative notes, words, and links someday but I'm only logging manually through Google sheets...

  • I track how much time I spend reading about how to do things vice just doing them :)

  • @alcantal said:
    Do most of your metrics update & get recorded automatically?

    As part of my morning routine, these metrics are refreshed and printed as the footer of my "Daily Ideation Note" template. The links are hot, and I review the new notes from yesterday, last year, and two years ago. (This is manageable given my time constraints.) I review each to see if I originally wrote for my future self, which I am now that future self, and edit old notes if appropriate.

    I use Keyboard Maestro and a series of bash scripts for this.

    Here are a couple of old posts where I struggled to get this working and got a ton of great help from fellow zettelnauts.
    Journaling Zettelkasten stats — Zettelkasten Forum
    Zettelkasten Statistics — Zettelkasten Forum

    Will Simpson
    “Read Poetry, Listen to Good Music, and Get Exercise”
    kestrelcreek.com

  • @alcantal said:
    @d503 that's quite elegant. Where do you get your words, then?

    Do you mean what do I do with the notes? If that's the question, I think most of the notes go these days to my masters thesis. But they also go to policy papers or lawsuits, which I do for work.

    In terms of software, the work I have to do with others usually goes to a google docs. If I'm the only author and reviewer, which is rare, I use Ulysses. I was using Emacs but citation issues and the org vs markdown thing made me use the simplest tool.

    @alcantal said:
    I've stopped tracking word count because of the large variability (as compared to links) — sometimes I'd read a lot of papers and condense things into a few words, but make a lot of breakthroughs, too. And sometimes I'd read this dense paper with an extremely long experimental design section and I would only type in a couple of words in my notes.

    I guess the question is more about why measure something. In my case, I measure words because I made a point of making my notes very reflexive and condensed. It boils down to being sincere: do I really understand this? what is this text actually saying? I value this work because I know it will be useful when I need it and it is itself the start of new ideas an connections. I use the measure to look back in the month and see if I did what I deep down want to do, which is to learn stuff and write about it.

    Measuring links might be a good indicator of this same work but I feel it speaks about the growth of the ZK first. For now I want to think only on the process. The product will take care of itself. Most of the days I record 0 words, though. Still I hope to have a steadier rhythm.

  • @d503 said:
    I guess the question is more about why measure something. In my case, I measure words because I made a point of making my notes very reflexive and condensed. It boils down to being sincere: do I really understand this? what is this text actually saying? I value this work because I know it will be useful when I need it and it is itself the start of new ideas an connections. I use the measure to look back in the month and see if I did what I deep down want to do, which is to learn stuff and write about it.

    Measuring links might be a good indicator of this same work but I feel it speaks about the growth of the ZK first. For now I want to think only on the process. The product will take care of itself. Most of the days I record 0 words, though. Still I hope to have a steadier rhythm.

    You made a good point there.

    I can't help but notice the fact that you can tolerate 0 words — you must be self-compassionate. :smiley: For me, 0 words in my log makes me feel sad. I couldn't tolerate it when I know that I've read a lot but didn't do anything in the archive. It's like eating at a japanese buffet and having a full day of indigestion. But that's just me...

    @Will said:

    @alcantal said:
    Do most of your metrics update & get recorded automatically?

    As part of my morning routine, these metrics are refreshed and printed as the footer of my "Daily Ideation Note" template. The links are hot, and I review the new notes from yesterday, last year, and two years ago. (This is manageable given my time constraints.) I review each to see if I originally wrote for my future self, which I am now that future self, and edit old notes if appropriate.

    I use Keyboard Maestro and a series of bash scripts for this.

    Here are a couple of old posts where I struggled to get this working and got a ton of great help from fellow zettelnauts.
    Journaling Zettelkasten stats — Zettelkasten Forum
    Zettelkasten Statistics — Zettelkasten Forum

    That's a great practice to adopt to keep "understandability" in check. I feel like even reviewing notes from a month ago would yield a benefit. But that's just because my archive is still young :smile:

    Do you feel like you're somehow "connecting more" with your future self and intuitively knowing whether your notes would be understandable by "future you"? I've read about books saying that we treat our future selves as strangers, and I felt like this was true in my experience writing prompts in Anki. As I made prompts for my future self (back in 2018) I started to intuitively know whether I'd understand a prompt in the future or not. And now I find it hard to articulate the "how."

  • @alcantal said:
    That's a great practice to adopt to keep "understandability" in check. I feel like even reviewing notes from a month ago would yield a benefit. But that's just because my archive is still young :smile:

    Review is a way to check progress and to see if ideas are sticking. Do this gently in small increments.
    If you only have time each day to review 1 or 2 zettel, look at those zettel created one month ago. Then stop, do something else. Know that you'll review 1 or 2 zettel from a month ago tomorrow. Some days there will be none, that okay, some days there will be five who knows.

    I think the important thing here is establishing a small, short routine. Let it develop if it does. But slowly.

    Here are today's stats. In my morning routine, I have nine notes to review. This review process will take about 15-25 mins.

    Do you feel like you're somehow "connecting more" with your future self and intuitively knowing whether your notes would be understandable by "future you"? I've read about books saying that we treat our future selves as strangers, and I felt like this was true in my experience writing prompts in Anki. As I made prompts for my future self (back in 2018), I started to intuitively know whether I'd understand a prompt in the future or not. And now I find it hard to articulate the "how."

    Focusing on how well a past note is relevant to current life is an opportunity to learn how to craft your current zettel. Take lessons learned from past note reviews and apply them to current projects. This describes the learning process in general, with a few specifics about the zettel review thrown in.

    I can recommend Strangers to Ourselves by Timothy D. Wilson. This is on my re-read list.

    Will Simpson
    “Read Poetry, Listen to Good Music, and Get Exercise”
    kestrelcreek.com

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