Currently browsing Posts Tagged “motivation”

Fitbit Ultra – A Step Towards a Healthier Lifestyle

Fitbit Ultra, the latest update of the original Fitbit, is a step counter, which allows monitoring your overall daily activity. The current version also comes with a new stairclimb detection and has additional features such as a clock and a stopwatch. The small wearable sensor can be clipped onto your clothing or placed in your handbag. It comes with a computer connected base station for charging the sensor and transmitting your data wirelessly from the Fitbit device to your online profile.

Fitbit visualizes health information and motivates towards an active lifestyle

In its default settings, Fitbit suggests that you take an average of 10,000 steps each day in order to maintain a generally healthy condition. Obviously, this daily target, along with the number of stairs to climb, can be adjusted to your personal needs. Right on the website’s dashboard, you can see how well you’ve achieved your weekly score represented in the number of steps you’ve taken, stairs you’ve climbed, or calories you’ve burned. A number of other stats display ratings such as how long you are active each day, or how long and how well you slept at night. In order to better visualize your stepcount, Fitbit has implemented some game mechanics in the form of badges that are rewarded  according to the number of steps you take. These badges can be linked to foursquare, where they are displayed on 4sq’s website in the partner badges section.

Fitbit online profileIn the website’s log section, you can track other health information such as nutrition, non-stepcount related sport activities or physical parameters such as blood pressure or body weight. Your Fitbit online profile is compatible with Runkeeper’s health graph. When both services are connected, they will automatically share their data, even when obtained from third-party providers such as Withings Wifi Body Scale.

Now, with the product update, Fitbit also features an iPhone application, which helps you track your nourishment and overview your stats on the go.

Fitbit mobile appThe Fitbit can also be used as a sleep sensor. In order to do so, the device must be attached to an armband, which you wear while sleeping. By measuring your overnight movement, Fitbit detects whether you are asleep or awake, and gives you feedback on your sleep quality.

Does Fitbit help staying fit?

Fitbit does a great job at monitoring your step count. When I compared Fitbit’s count with that of the iPod nano’s pedometer, the results of both sensors were within a 5% tolerance range, which seems to be fairly accurate. Compared to the 2 days battery life of the nano, the Fitbit runs for at least a whole week, which is definitely a more user-friendly experience. The dashboard on Fitbit’s website displays a good overview of your activity stats and the log is a well-structured file for storing one’s health data. For those who want to collect their fitness data at services such as Runkeeper, Fitbit allows you to easily connect your Fitbit profile with them and import your step count to them.

Monitoring your step count and the number of floors that you’ve taken can definitely be a way to keep users engaged in improving their overall physical activity. A lot of people – including myself – feel motivated to walk instead of driving or take the stairs instead of using the elevator when rewarded with positive feedback. Especially allowing Fitbit to  automatically post your stepcount on your Facebook or Twitter account can certainly spur your pride and step up your motivation.

If you want to use Fitbit for sleep tracking as well, it can get a bit fiddly to constantly have to attach it to your armband overnight and then clip it back on to your clothing during the day. Companies such as Jawbone or MyBasis will soon come out with sensors, which can be worn 24/7 as a bracelet or watch, giving them an advantage over Fitbit’s convenience in everyday use. So far however, the Fitbit Ultra definitely remains a well-designed, user-friendly and health-engaging product that has made a great contribution to my personal wellbeing. With their just announced  Aria Wifi Scale, Fitbit has made clear that they are going to continue contributing to a healthier lifestyle even more in the future.

RescueTime – Don’t Fool Yourself in Time Management!

If you spend most of your time working on your computer, you will have realized the thin line between productivity and procastination. How long do you spend reading news and blogs to get the information you’re looking for, and to stay up to date with your fast moving business? RescueTime is a service which logs and tracks the time spent on your computer’s active window and thereby analyzes what you are doing. In order to use the service, you will have to download and install a plugin to your Mac, PC or Android device which does all this tracking for you.

RescueTime analyzes your productivity

Rescue Time analyzes how long you’ve spent on each software tool or website and tallies the working time for each activity. RescueTime Chart on Activities All your activities can be grouped into categories such as presentation for applications like Keynote or Powerpoint or video for websites like Youtube or video players. Thereby, you can get detailed information on which kinds of applications you’ve been using the most.

RescueTime Chart on CategoriesTime spent on tools and websites are classified with a productivity index which comes with default settings and can be adjusted to your own requirements. Thereby, RescueTime displays your productive time vs. distracted time, calculates a productivity score and shows how you compare to the others users of the service. RescueTime Chart on EfficiencyProductivity is displayed over several time intervals such as day, week or month. Well visualized charts give you feedback of how much time you have spent on the computer being very productive (blue), productive (transparent blue), distracted (transparent red) or very distracted (red). RescueTime Chart on Productivity by the hourIf you don’t wish to check your stats on a regular basis, you might go with the weekly email report, which gives you a detailed feedback on your productivity as well.

Tune RescueTime’s productivity index to your own productivity needs

Since everyone has different working needs, it’s important to refine the default productivity index  in order to receive an accurate feedback. For example, the default settings rate social networks as very distracting, which might be true for many of us. However, since I use Twitter and Facebook as a marketing tool, I had to readjust this setting in order to receive appropriate results. Since I constantly change my computing habits along with the websites and tools I use the most, I inevitably need to readjust my indexing parameters from time to time to keep the feedback RescueTime gives me realistic. Therefore, I set the individual activity indexes to reflect their contribution to value-generation for my business. For my personal settings, this means that working on actual results with software tools is indexed as very productive, whereas web browsing often doesn’t generate real value in the short-term and is indexed as neutral or distracting, depending on the topic of the website. Certainly every user has to come up with their own criteria to define productive and non-productive computer usage in order to enable a helpful feedback.

Benefits for your time management from RescueTime

First off, what you get is a straightforward feedback of your time management. Most people underestimate how time-consuming meetings, breaks or occasional interruptions can be. Every time you return to your computer, RescueTime shows you a pop-up which asks you what you’ve been doing in the meantime while displaying the length of your absence. If you take advantage of this RescueTime function, you can not only receive feedback of what you’ve been doing directly at your computer, but also get a better feel for whether you been using your time well while away from it.

The overview of your working behavior has several benefits. Getting a feedback on your productivity level can help encourage you to stick to your main priorities without losing sight of them amidst all the other urgent things to be done. This is probably the most important advantage when thought in the lines of efficiency. On the other hand, seeing how long and how productive you have worked might either give you a kick when you are about to do some extra hours at night or makes it easier to relax during your free time.

Overall experience with RescueTime

Rescue Time is a tool which easily runs in the background. I am currently using it on three different computers from which the data is seamlessly aggregated into one profile. I can thereby cover up to 80+ hours of my weekly time with Rescue Time, comprising work, meetings or lunch. Of course, the tool only really makes sense for those who work mostly at a computer and who are willing to take some time to adjust the indexing parameters to appropriately monitor their personal working style. If you do so, you will get a precise tracking of your time management. For the self quantifiers out there, this has huge potential for integration into 3rd party applications to give you an even better overview on working hours, productivity, sleep, sports and stress level and their interdependencies. I hope to see some cool integration in aggregation tools soon!

RescueTime Badge Productivity

Looking for a RescueTime friend? Go for igrowdigital!

My Polar heart rate monitor – Why you should have one

Photo: Polar.fi

If you run five to six times a week, go to work by bike and do strength training in between your running days, you don’t want to spend more time than absolutely necessary at the PC writing all the stuff down. At the same time, it is important to see and calculate progress (or plateauing).

I got the RS300 Polar heart rate monitor to keep track of the kilometers I ran and to see my pace while I am running. After the training sessions, you can see your average and max pace, heart-rate and which sport-zones you used (customizable heart-rate zones). It even has a function that can measure your current fitness level (it’s called OwnIndex and is correlated to your VO2max) and another test that determines your current aerobic zone in the first minutes of your particular run! Two really cool features!

When you start running, as I did about three years ago, you’ll be overwhelmed by numbers. Same goes for other (endurance) sports. So, if you are like me, you start tracking what you can measure – the data will useful for motivation, new training plans, calculating your training load and much more.

At first you want to know how much time you spend on the track. Then you will start measuring your track length and calculating your pace. Soon enough, you buy a heart rate monitor to ensure the right training load and you begin training pulse oriented.

Running in the woods
He wears Polar

If its not enough to write that all down, maybe you want to see an average displayed by week/month/year in fancy, colored graphs, ready to share online with your training partners. Your personal Nyan Cat of data, there you go, the RS300 helps you do just that. Go to the website polar offers you to keep track of your personal goals, trainings plans and much more. Sure, I hear from time to time that people “feel” how much load they take, they “sometimes run fast, other times slower and it works well”.

Yes, it is much better than watching TV. Now consider the following: maybe you want to go faster and farther and run more relaxed all at the same time, get the lost calories counted and do it in perfect alignment with your body – then, of course, get yourself a heart-rate watch. Even with half-hearted endurance ambitions, monitor your heart. (And get a training plan of course, or let the Polar software design one for you based on your fitness test – well done Polar, well done).

Do you already own a heart-rate monitor? Have different ways to stay in touch with your training load? Share your knowledge, write a comment.