Photo for illustrative purposes only. Illustration by Marianne White / TIME; Stephen Groves / TIME
Since I started my life-time stress tool, I've been thinking more about things like getting to my 15,000 steps, keeping my priorities straight and balancing my time. All of that, of course, goes back to the goal of saving lives.
Two years ago, David Katz published a study from his Columbia Business School while working at the University of Rochester. (He went back to Columbia in 2016 as a professor.) He found that 10,000 steps per day could reduce heart attacks by 30%.
To get to that level of productivity, I have three key pieces of equipment: a Fitbit, a cadre of digital tools and a digital platform.
On the wearable side, I've been using Fitbit since it debuted in 2007 and it looks and feels about the same today as it did when I got my first Fitbit Flex a year ago. I have about two dozen devices in my family.
I use the Fitbit app on my phone to track both activity and sleep. It gives me a vast array of metrics, including heart rate, weight, step count, number of calories burned, elevation and sleep efficiency.
Weighing in: I have a Fitbit Flex and Fitbit Charge 2, and I was curious if they worked together. Actually, they work in sync. At the beginning of my process, I wrote a line that read, "No one takes more than three steps in the morning." (The market research group McKinsey & Co. found that if you avoid saying the word "three" during work days, your productivity will increase by 14%. If you take more than three steps in the morning, you're not productive.) The Fitbit ad on Facebook showed three steps and a heart rate, and I replied, "No. No, no, no, no. They're completely different things." The data shows they do work together, as people don't weigh themselves or sleep. (See pictures of the life of the Fitbit.)
In addition to the Fitbit app, I use my pedometer on my smartphone. I have more than four dozen step counters; they track pace and distance. I use my website, mysomuch.com, to track my family's activity and progress.
I use my computer to "remotely" log my step count at the end of the day and log the calories I burned, standing in front of the mirror. Because everything is up-to-date and I can scroll through my steps in my e-mail account, I've become very strategic about how and when I post those calories. For example, I can keep track of what I eat the day before a meeting and blog about the health-related benefits of whatever I've had for lunch. I've taken the time to learn how to integrate the device into my routine so that I can achieve those daily goals, whether or not it's quantified.
Including these devices in my routine has changed how I think about my workday and my life. I now work without leaving my computer screen how I think of it is as a screen, but as a screen on a monitor. Right when I hit "record," my wife always runs over and follows me into the kitchen, where she tends to eat most of the food I eat that day. Last week, I had my son outside to play for an hour while I set my insulin pump and sat for a little while as he sang an opera. The process helps me sleep. (See "Ten Things You Shouldn't Have to Ask a Therapist About.")
On weekends, I start my day with a glass of water and walk with my dog along my long-running beach trail. I then walk at pace for about 20 minutes before I start my to-do list.
The results aren't yet out for the year. So far, I've lost 11 pounds in my six months. I'm still testing to see if this really makes a difference, but overall I feel like I'm living more consciously and deliberately. I work hard, but I also have fun and have succeeded in making it easier to prioritize. That might sound trite, but it's the truth. I'm sure these gadgets can help you achieve your goals as well. But make sure they're not a distraction when you're trying to focus.
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