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Data-Driven Habit Transformations

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

We often hear about examples of how organizations are able to transform using insights from their data, but individuals can also benefit from data collection and analytics in their lives.

For individuals, transformative behavior change often starts with a bit of introspection followed by a resolve to make a change, and then crystallizes (or fails) with the help of our brain's habit circuitry. (Charles Duhigg makes a great case for this in his book The Power of Habit).

People have long been collecting and monitoring qualitative and quantitative data points in their lives to fuel and guide such change -- think of journals, hour tallies, and budgets. Often taking a step back to take stock of our 'historical data' and where we'd like to go allows us to hone in on areas that require attention and adjustment, which might not have been obvious to us during the whirlwind of our daily activities.

More recently, such data collection has become much more efficient and automatic, allowing us to more clearly see trends and identify behaviors without expending too much energy in collecting and visualizing that data.

This is especially true in the following realms:

  1. Personal finance
  2. Fitness & health
  3. Productivity

For example, financial tools like Mint are enabling users to track and monitor spending behavior. Fitness trackers like Fitbit are enabling wearers to make sure they're moving and exercising enough during the day -- valuable as we spend more and more time sitting in front of screens.

Similarly, tools like Google Calendar and Toggl are allowing us to track time spent on deliverables, building critical skills, and other high-value work. The simple act of adding up hours can provide insights into whether we are spending time on the most important tasks or getting sucked into low-value tasks.

If used the right way, these tools capture and provide the data we need to help us shape and adapt our behavior more quickly and intelligently.

What are the data-driven habits in your life? Which tools are you using to drive personal transformations?

Priya Malhotra

Written by Priya Malhotra

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