The sluggish pull of our usual routine is often the death knell of even the most modest New Year’s resolution. Old habits are just too cozy, familiar, and tempting to shake off.

But what if you could turn the daily office drudge into your greatest ally? Auto analytics, as researcher H. James Wilson recently explained, can help you do just that.  It's a growing--somewhat informal--field of behavioral evaluation that helps users gather and process information about how they spend their time. This can include anything from using a heart monitor to gauge stress levels throughout the day to strapping on an accelerometer to see how much you move. 

Once you have this data, the theory goes, a new level of self-awareness will unearth more productive people and, ultimately, a more efficient workplace. 

“Entrepreneurs are seeing the potential of this before anyone else, because they are always looking to fine tune their self awareness,” Wilson explained. And there is great potential for employees at small companies to use auto analytics, he said, to get a better handle on how they spend their day. 

Auto analytics directs attention to three principal areas: thoughts, physical health, and emotional well being. And there is a plethora of tools—iPhone apps, computer programs and electronic gadgets—to help you get started.

Electronic auto analytics gadgets are categorized as trackers or “nudgers,” though they are sometimes both. The former document routines and reveal patterns, while the latter process data and recommend a course of action. Many work in conjunction with apps, which crunch the data gathered by an electronic device and recommend a course of action. 

Check out these three: 

1. PACO—or Personal Analytics Companion. Designed and tested in an organizational surrounding, PACO is an open-source app that enables you to set up your own experiments. Say, for instance, you're a programmer who is easily sucked into endless hours in front of a computer screen, but you'd prefer to be making more phone calls to potential clients. With PACO you can set up reminders on your Android phone (the developer is currently working on an iPhone version) or computer that "ping" to let you know when you've been doing one activity for a specified amount of time.

2. Nike Fuelband. This gadget uses an accelerometer to monitor your movement throughout the day. The band  works in conjunction with the NikeFuel iPhone app (free on iTunes) and displays your progress via an LED display. When you start work in the morning, the light glows red. As you move throughout the day and come closer to your specified goal, the lights shifts to green. The device records every step and calorie burned, and displays the time of day. 

3. Withings Wifi Bodyscale. This scale monitors and tracks your weight, breaking it down into fat and lean mass. The scale connects to a web dashboard that displays your BMI and relates your data to a healthy reference range for your profile. You can then share the information on Facebook and Twitter, or pass it along to your healthcare provider. 



Jan 4, 2013