How many hours did you sleep last night? And the same day a week ago? How much did you sleep in the past week, total? These may seem like questions you can just think about and answer, but over time, sleep trends can affect our mood, our work, and our general well-being. This is just one example of a number you might want to keep track of, and correlate with your life over time. Trackthisforme is a free and interesting Android app that lets you track some of these variables in a beautiful, compelling interface. It’s nice for beginners, although more advanced users will likely seek a more complete solution.
Why Just Some Variables?
There can be many things you might want to track, as proponents of the quantified self movements will gladly tell you – for example, fistfuls of food eaten. The thing is, not everything can be measured in units like that. If you need to measure things by the hour, for example, a more full-featured app like KeepTrack Pro, featured on our Best Android Apps page, might be better able to serve your needs. But as long as whatever you’re measuring can be described in simple numeric quantities, Trackthisforme can help.
Getting started is easy, with a three-step onboarding wizard:
The app’s suggestion that you track your mood refers to its Notes field, which we shall soon see. The first thing it has you do is create a new tracker:
Once you have a new tracker, it shows up on your dashboard (right-side screenshot above). It’s just an empty rectangle for now because I haven’t recorded any values, so let’s do that:
Each value has several fields: A value, a comment, a star-rating, and a timestamp. If that sounds cumbersome, well, it can be. Competitor Tap Log lets you track values with a single tap if needed, but is not as pretty.
Once you log several values, the counter shows a beautiful graph, along with several stats about the information you’ve logged. This can be nice for most types of logging, but again, is fairly simplistic. For logging your weight I recommend a more purpose-built tool, such as the previously reviewed Libra.
Fortunately, you don’t have to drill down through the app every time you want to log a new value, or even check your progress:
Above you can see both bundled widgets (the one on the right, which looks like a shortcut, is actually a 1×1 widget). The left one puts a graph right on your home screen, while the right one directly opens the record creation screen. Since most fields are optional, it is possible to quickly log a new value.
The Web Front-End
If you find logging information on your phone inconvenient, or just prefer looking at your pretty charts on a bigger screen, you may benefit from the Trackthisforme website. The website is just as beautiful as the app itself, but also carries many of its weaknesses:
One particular weakness I was hoping the website to address is data export. If you’re going to log serious, long-time information into this tool, you’re going to want a way to export it later. Exporting your information would let you manipulate it using cool Excel macros and other advanced techniques – you can literally use Excel to manage your life. But whether or not you go the Excel route, it just makes sense for you to be able to own your data. Disappointingly, this appears to be a Pro-only feature:
Accounts start at $20/year, but holding your data hostage in order to get you to sign up is not a good marketing strategy, to say the least.
Tracking Phone Usage Stats
One interesting feature Trackthisforme offers, via an optional plugin, is tracking your phone usage:
You can track SMS messages and call time (broken down by outgoing and incoming). This is one specialization which neither KeepTrack or TapLog (and certainly not Libra) offer, and is a nice touch.
A Simple Beginning With Several Limitations
Trackthisforme mainly has beautiful design going for it – and these days, that does count. Many people find tracking life metrics initially daunting, and being able to do it with a nice-looking interfaces eases some of the initial awkwardness. The app’s lack of counter types and a robust quick-entry system makes it feel clumsy at times, but it has a compelling way of showing your data. If you’re just getting into logging important quantities in your life, Trackthisforme can be an appealing way to start, though you probably won’t want to entrust crucial information to a service that won’t let you export it for free. Keep an eye out for a full-length review of its two more powerful competitors, coming soon.
Do you keep track of any important numbers in your daily life? If so, how, and how did it help you so far?
Image Credits: Stopwatch Via Shutterstock