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Measure and track your performance

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

Measure and track your performance

Scott Miker

In business environments we tend to measure and track much more than in our personal lives.  Businesses utilize different types of information to get a good sense of how the business is performing. 

But in our personal lives we don’t.  It could be that we are too lazy or that we don’t think we need to measure because everything is directly accessible to us.  But when it comes to improvement, performance measurement is very important.

Here is an example of how it can help.  Years ago I was trying to lose a couple pounds.  I decided that I should eat more fruit.  So I grabbed a blender and headed to the fruit market to buy bananas, strawberries, blueberries, etc. 

I started making smoothies.  I was really excited that I was increasing the fruits in my diet and was sure that I would see the pounds fall off.

Because I weigh myself daily and keep track of my weight, I was able to see a trend that I wasn’t expecting.  I was actually gaining weight. 

This confused me at first.  I was shocked.  But I started to evaluate my diet and realized that I would eat the smoothie after I was already full.  This started to slowly get my stomach to expect more food than normal.  And when I didn’t have a smoothie, I would end up just eating more.

Once I realized this I abandoned my smoothie quest and just started to eat a couple fruits throughout the day.  But if it weren’t for me measuring, I wouldn’t have realized my strategy was flawed.

 I see people make this mistake all the time.  They assume they don’t need to measure and track elements of their life.  They make adjustments but don’t know how well those changes work.  They don’t know if they are actually improving or just changing.

But if we can track our progress towards our goals we can start to see how well the changes we make are working.  We can see when something we assume will work doesn’t and we can see when the effort we put forth isn’t turning into the results we thought we would get.

So if you want to start to lose weight, start to keep a log of your daily weight.  If you want to pay off credit card debt, start to track every dime you spend.  This will clue you in to where you are at currently.  Then you can start to make adjustments and review how they impacted your numbers.   

Did they help?  If so keep going with them and make them standard parts of your routines and habits. 

Did they not work?  Then abandoned them and try something else.  Don’t stick with something that isn’t working for you.

Many people claim to be serious about goals and improvement but they don’t even bother tracking where they are in key areas of their life.  They assume it is pointless but this crucial step can mean the difference between success and failure. 

In Business Process Improvement Toolbox by Bjorn Andersen, the author says, “Quite generally, all management and decision-making are highly dependent on information about the status and development over time.  Measurement is an important part of this.  When discussing improvement of business processes, measuring the processes’ performance levels is an important and necessary element.  Performance measurement provides information about how well a process is being conducted and how good the results from it are.”

While most people know that this is important in business, it is just as important as improvement efforts in our personal life.