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Latest insights and trends in Personal Analytics, Operational Intelligence, and Workplace Productivity.

Mar 02
Who Said Measuring Yourself is Good?

Originally I thought of writing a post about the strange fears of analyzing yourself at work and how that is in contradiction with having no fears of improving your health by using fitness trackers. Now it looks like that intention is obsolete, because the contradiction is being seriously questioned.

In the not so distant past, we all knew that exercising is good, that every responsible person has to work on staying fit, and that the culture of regular exercise helped us to the longest life expectancy (well beyond 80 for most developed countries) ever seen in human history.

So far so good, but the resistance is apparently mounting, and largely it has to do with insurance contracts and fitness trackers. You exercise more, prove that with your fitness tracking data, and your health insurance will cost you less – this concept now quickly makes its way into the insurance business. And we hear more and more that it is “grossly unfair”. The reasons range from the fundamental human right to “not be penalized for non-exercising” all the way to fully blown conspiracy theories about malicious tech companies wanting our very precious personal data for making billions in profits through some mysterious mechanisms (just as a side note: in one of my recent blog posts I showed the calculation of those very precious data bringing the profit of about five dollars a year in the best case).

Following this logic, should we agree that personal analytics at work is the same if not more problematic? That the “culture of fitness”, when applied to workplace, would unfairly penalize those who are willing to stay as they are and not surrender to the pressure of ever increasing productivity?

I would not agree, and I have two reasons to say so. One reason is that our productivity is for the most part not where it has to be, the same perhaps as the fitness of many of us. I am collecting the various relevant numbers and shall write a separate post on this topic next week.

The other part is that one does not have to measure every own action by whatever instructions are presented to us. Sometimes we listen too much to all sorts of (often self-proclaimed) authorities and too little to our own common sense. Exercise is good for your health, and if a fitness tracker helps you do it, just use it and benefit, no matter what all the warning voices say. In the same way, personal analytics tells you how you spend your time and how much you do of those things that are important. Once you know this, you can do more of those important things in the same time. Do we have to keep thinking that it is “unfair” to somebody who just does not want to improve? There is really no reason in the world.​

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