Self-accountability: what gets measured gets done

what gets measured gets done

The phrase “what gets measured gets done” is mostly used in the business world and suggests you should measure important things otherwise they don’t get done. However, the same philosophy can obviously be used in your personal life. On the one occasion I started to measure how many kilometres I was running it created a healthy self- competitiveness. Each week I’d want to beat or at least match my previous week’s distance.

If you’re like me then you passively drift through your personal life without improving because there’s no accountability. The best way to create this is through measurement. Identify what you want to improve and then record how much of it you are doing. Simple.

What I plan to measure

I will be measuring physical and mental activities which I’ve classified as “body” and “mind” in my spreadsheet. The aim is to see improvement. It’s possible to record many things but it won’t necessarily be useful. As Einstein put in:

“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts”


I have a bunch of exercises to measure, I’ve been plodding along at the gym without knowing whether I’m getting better and no driving force to get me to do more. In addition, I’ve been ambling along with sporadic meditation, reading and writing. Most of what’s in my spreadsheet is self-explanatory, a few that aren’t:

  • Front crawl (freestyle). Although I could measure the absolute number of lengths swam per month, I’m interested in improving the number of continuous lengths I can do without stopping for a breather. Absolute and continuous lengths are probably correlated but for now, I’m only recording continuous.
  • I’ve got a bunch of martial art related strikes to measure. Currently, I attend my gym and have an ad hoc routine when it comes to striking the bag, so this is an attempt to get good at a few combos; repetition builds neural pathways.
  • “Experiences” is the number of new experiences I’ve done that month. I’m guilty of living a routine lifestyle with every month being similar or the same. Therefore, I will be trying new things every month. Here are a few new experiences I have recently done:
    • 2-hour surfing lesson
    • A 90-minute introduction to archery
    • 1-hour stand up paddle boarding lesson
    • A 1-hour walk I’ve never been on before
    • Tried a new gym class (even if I think I won’t like it!)

How I plan to measure

I’m using Google Spreadsheets for recording everything as it’s free, simple to use plus it’s easy to add data using their mobile app. I’ve done several iterations on the format with weekly and daily granularity but have decided on a super-simple monthly format that involves keeping a running total. I use a Kindle for reading books but plan to measure the number of pages I’ve read by referring to Amazon’s website and using the “look inside” feature to calculate how many “real” pages I’ve read. Meditation (mindfulness) will be measured in minutes using an app I recently came across called Insight Timer which has a useful reporting feature to see how much time I’ve spent meditating.

My accountability spreadsheet

This is what my spreadsheet looks like (pre-populated). I will post a live link once I have a few months of data which will give me more motivation to keep improving.

personal accountability spreadsheet

And once there are a few months of data it’s straightforward to trend activities to see how you’re performing.

meditation trend

It’s really that simple, so get to it and starting tracking your progress!

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