If there’s something you’d like to do better, or more consistently, then you probably should measure it. That simple insight powers lots of different apps, services, and guidelines that we’ve written about on ProfHacker.
But sometimes--and I know this will shock you--sometimes one forgets. Or you don’t really want an infinitely extensible database/visualization engine that allows you to search tracked data 50 ways from Sunday while serendipitously finding relevant songs in iTunes. Sometimes, what you really need is someone to ask you, “Hey, did you read those 50 pages today?” (Or, “did you write something in public today,” “how much water did you drink,” “did you practice your Mandarin today,” or “did you take your dog to the park,” or whatever.)
And what would *really* be nice if you weren’t being asked by an actual person, who might sound tired or cranky--and thus implicitly judgmental of your answer. (“What do you mean, you didn’t get your reading done? I took the kids to see Jack and Jill just so you could have the apartment to yourself!”)
If that situation ever applies to you, then take a look at AskMeEvery.com, a simple service that texts you a question of your choosing. You text the answer back, and AskMeEvery.com creates a simple graph of the results:
That’s it! (Ok, there’s a little more: You can set the exact time of day the service asks you any question; the first text you get from the service is a password, which you can change; and you can either clear any data or make any question inactive. But, really, it’s pretty simple.)
It is, perhaps, baby steps toward a quantified self, but is certainly an easy way to automate the recording of any simple data you care to track.
Do you use a comparable service? What kinds of questions might be interesting for academics to track? Let us know in comments?
Photo “blazers data” by Flickr user Jenny Cestnik / Creative Commons licensed