Fitbit fatigue.

I listened to this week’s Back to Work which focused heavily on self-quantization, or simply put, keeping tabs on your activity and measuring what you’re doing. I’ve been a Fitbit user for over a year, during which time I’ve collected all the data the little thing could provide me with. It helped motivate me and showed me definitively what I was doing and how I was spending my active time. I agree with everything Merlin says in the show–it’s tremendously helpful to have this kind of insight about yourself. I began a personal campaign to become healthier a few years ago and using the Fitbit became a part of that. I was excited to have a little companion noting all my data for me. Numbers! Graphs! Yay!

But over time, something occurred to me and only recently became extremely salient: I don’t need to use it anymore, and more importantly, its use had become something that was a subtle stressor for me. It seems dumb, but I’ll explain.

As I explained in that earlier post, I began a new lifestyle in which I was very aware of my routines and habits and got very hard on myself to achieve some goals. Adding a Fitbit to the mix was a way to make doing those things a little more fun, and I was really into it for a while. My wife bought me a One for Christmas, which I promptly lost on a business trip and replaced. So I was into the idea enough to buy a second device. For a solid year it never left my side, unless I forgot it (rare), and then I was nearly inconsolable (all those lost steps!). Over time, something changed though; I was more concerned with collecting the data and having it than actually using it. It became a weird anxiety-provoking moment (pat pocket-ok it’s there-whew) that I experienced a few times a day.

As such, I was thinking about it recently and decided to check my data. What I discovered was exactly what I had suspected. My data was almost unvaried across the board. My sleep wasn’t so great in the beginning of last year, but a new infant will do that. Nowadays, I sleep 7-8 hours a night, with almost no disturbances. My sleep quality is something like 96% on average. My steps vary, but we’ve been saddled with some positively oppressive cold weather, so they’ve been a little low; that said, walking is always on my mind, and I’m still doing it as much and as often as possible. Water intake? Terrific. 64-96 ounces a day. Diet? Solid.

I found that my good habits were already in place, and the Fitbit wasn’t doing anything to change that. It was another thing I was carrying, and worrying about losing/syncing/monitoring, and I just don’t think I need it. I still think I’m going to fire it up for stuff like WWDC, just to see how many steps I’ve taken, but it’s not providing a level of insight I really need on a daily basis. I’ve created good habits and sustained them for a long enough period of time that I’m still doing those things without the added gadget. I turned it off earlier this week and placed it in a drawer and deleted the app from my phone. It feels strange, because I’ve been so focused on it for so long, but it’s also oddly freeing. I’m curious to know if I’m alone in this boat.

I’m probably a crazy person, but that’s also something I already knew from the data.

Author: Seth Clifford

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