Week one of my eight-week challenge is done. So far, so good.
As a reminder, here are my goals for the eight-week challenge:
- eat more nutritious food with fewer empty calories,
- spend one day a week reading the backlog of magazines sitting on the end table, and
- write at least 500 words per day for at least five days each week.
When thinking about how to report my progress, I wanted to avoid listing numbers. Instead, I wanted a type of dashboard to represent graphically how well I’m doing. Since I love working with Excel’s conditional formatting feature, I chose to record numbers for each of the goals and then represent the numbers in color on the chart above.
Since my first goal is to eat food that is more healthy for me, I decided to measure two things from a formula I used to follow for many years, General Electric’s Health By The Numbers program, or the 0-5-10-25 program. This program measures four things each day, the number of cigarettes smoked (0 is the goal), the number of portions of fruits and vegetables eaten (at least 5 is the goal), the number of steps walked (at least 10,000 is the goal), and Body Mass Index (25 or less is the goal). Since the first two numbers are not ones I have to measure any longer (I quit smoking years ago and my diet is now includes only fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts), I chose to include my BMI and the number of steps I walk each day as metrics for my health. On the chart above, a green cell indicates when I met the target during the first week of my eight-week challenge. An orange cell, under “Steps,” indicates when I reached at least 50% of the goal.
An unforeseen benefit of sticking with my diet and exercise program is that I noticed I have been waking up earlier than usual, with all the energy I need to get started on my day’s activity. And that’s the main reason I have been able to get a walk of at least 5,000 steps each day. Most days I have walked 7,500 to 9,000 steps, but only once did I get above 10,000. Shopping at Costco for my fruits and vegetables that day made the difference.
To represent my second goal, I recorded the number of magazines I read each day. A green cell in the Magazine column represents success. Since my stated goal was to spend one day a week working on that backlog, just one green cell meets the goal. But when I counted up the number of back issues I have to get through, I need to read at least five magazines per week to clear the backlog. That is a better metric than just spending one day reading magazines. I’ll have to redo the formulas to represent progress using at least five magazines per week for success.
A benefit of this goal is that I found a number of writing prompts in some of the magazines which will help ensure I meet my third goal. Writer’s block is not allowed during the challenge.
To represent my third goal, I recorded the number of words I wrote each day for either my memoir or a blog post for either this blog or for the San Diego Writers/Editors Guild blog which I manage. Green represents meeting this goal.
From now on, I’ll include the graphic snapshot of my progress each week, without so many words, so I can focus more on the benefits obtained in the process.