Do you know how you really use your mindspace? Use the app MindTrack to find out. Tracking can reveal quite some surprises.
The new year brings a lot of hope for new beginnings and changes. Physical fitness is always a big one. Rarely, however, do we consider our mental fitness and make resolutions around it. It doesn’t help that what that means is pretty ambiguous, (though we hope all this research that we are doing will eventually make that clearer). There is also the question of what we want to accomplish with our mental fitness. What is the goal? To what do we benchmark? Which leads to the question of how exactly we are using our mindspace to begin with.
A framework to understand your mind and yourself
As quantified-self enthusiasts and many years of tracking various things and trying to find a framework, here is one that we have put out in a free app on App Store for iOS called MindTrack. It’s a way of looking at your mind as an input-output system, a self-reflection tool of sorts. How much of your mindspace is spent on productive input such as elements of Self-Care and Learning new things? How much of your time is spent on creating productive output in the world? How is your productive output split between Thinking, Creating something and all the tasks that go into Maintaining what you create? How much time do you spend on the Undesirable stuff that is destructive to your goals that you wish you didn’t do?
Based on our beta testing with a bunch of people here’s what we have found so far:
- Most folks are surprised at what they find, particularly how much of our days are occupied by in between filler activities and how much extra time you can actually find if you begin to track and understand your patterns.
- Like metabolic rhythms we have mental rhythms as well. The way we use our mindspace over a month or a year has patterns – and they are not the same for all users. Partly these are imposed by our work lives but these rhythms can affect them too.
- It’s always a shocker how much we put into ourselves (productive input) relative to what we put out (productive output) and its wildly different for different people.
- Tracking makes you aware of how you use your mindspace and can help you define goals for mental fitness.
MindTrack app features
So how does it work?
The app provides broad subcategories of activities under the major category heads of Thinking, Creating, Maintaining, Learning, Self-Care and Undesirable. Each category is color coded and your logged minutes are shown on a dashboard with views for Day, Week, Month and Year.
To make the tracking easier the app integrates your calendar entries to help you recall what you were doing that day.
The settings allow you to set your dashboard to view your logged data on a 24 hour cycle or scaled to logged minutes. It also allows you to turn on and off your logged sleep from the dashboard so that you can look specifically at your waking hours.
MindTrack in Research
Of course there is a research intent for this app and we hope it will ultimately be a tool that can be used alongside EEG recordings to track and understand how our conscious use of mind relates to different dynamical states. This is version 1.0 however, with some features to go before the data can integrate with EEG experiment. Nonetheless, we thought we would put it out there in the new year for anyone who wants to try it to gain insight into their own mind. Give it a try and maybe you will gain some fresh perspective on how you are using your mindspace that will help you be more mindful of it.
see related post New Year, New Brain