Ever wonder why you're having a bad day, or even a good one? Is there an ongoing problem in your life that you just can figure out? If you've got a free minute, just fill out this daily form to help you diagnose the problem by analysing how you think, act and feel.
The aggregate of your moods from day to day is, to a large degree, your life. Whether you've had too many bad days in a row or you just want a better handle on what exactly makes your moods swing (for better or worse), this post's for you.
Over time I've noticed that I'm at my worst when I don't eat. Hunger makes me an awful person to be around more than a lack of sleep or any other problem. A lack of food isn't the only reason I have bad days or moments, but figuring out every problematic action in a particular day isn't exactly an easy thing to do.
I realised I'd need a personal inventory — so I created one. I put together a form in Google Docs that asks a bunch of questions about basic issues that come up on a regular basis. This includes things like diet, exercise, sleep and happiness in a variety of areas. It takes about a minute to fill out each day, and when you're done the data is saved in a spreadsheet that automatically takes the daily data and calculates a variety of scores. These scores, plus accompanying graphs, can give you a quick look at what you're doing right in life and where you can improve. This way you don't have to try and pay attention to everything you do — which is basically impossible — and can let this form figure out your problems for you. In this post we'll go over how to set up the form for yourself and what each score means.
Watch the video above for a demonstration, or read on for a full written overview and setup instructions.
How to Set Up the Daily Personal Inventory Form
Before you can get started, you'll need a Google Docs account, because that's where this form lives. If you've got one, sign in. If you don't, sign up. Once you're all set, just follow these steps to set up the form for use:
- Visit the Daily Personal Inventory Form.
- You will not be able to edit it since this is the template that everybody starts with. Go to the File menu and choose "Make a copy..."
- Name the copy whatever you want. When you've chosen a name, click "OK" and the copied spreadsheet will open in a new tab/window. The spreadsheet, by default, will have three rows: the title row, the score row and any empty row. It's very important that you do not delete any of these or your data won't be calculated properly.
- Go to the Form menu and choose "Go to live form". A new tab/window will appear with the Daily Personal Inventory Form. You'll want to bookmark this page because it's what you'll be filling out every day. Fill it out one time and press submit when you're finished.
- Go back to the tab/window with your spreadsheet in it and you'll see a new row has been added with relevant data. You'll also see that the Score row in the spreadsheet has numbers (rather than errors) in it. These scores will change as you add more data each day, and we'll go over what they mean later on in this post.
That's all you have to do to get started. Before we move on, however, let's visit the other pages of the spreadsheet just to make sure they're working. Towards the bottom-left corner of the spreadsheet you'll see three tabs: Daily Inventory Data (the tab you're probably on right now), Score Card and Score Card Graph. Click through each of those tabs and make sure the Score Card is filled with numbers (and not DIV#0 errors) and the Score Card Graph looks like a graph (and not a blank white page). If everything looks good, you set up the form correctly. If not, you may want to read through these steps again and make sure you didn't miss something.
Assuming you've made it through the setup process, read on to learn what your scores mean.
Analysing Your Inventory Scores
Your inventory scores are pretty straightforward. All scores are out of 100 and they break down much like a traditional grading system:
- 90 and Above: Excellent
- 80-89: Great
- 70-79: Good/Average
- 60-69: Poor
- 40-59: Fail
- 39 and Below: Epic Fail
In general, you want to aim for a score of 75 or higher in every category. If you can manage that, you're doing pretty well. If not, you'll want to think about how you can improve in any relevant category. That's pretty much all you need to know to use this form, but if you want to learn more about how it works and how to make changes to better suit your needs, read on. (Warning: the need for some basic maths and spreadsheet knowledge will be required!)
Individual Category Scores
Each category in the spreadsheet gets a score assigned to it based on a few factors. On the "Daily Inventory Data" page, the second row (below the titles) provides a score for each specific category. Every score is out of 100 and is generally calculated by averaging your daily scores and comparing them to the highest possible score you could've earned. For example, if you filled out the form five times and rated your day a 3 each time, that means you'd earn 15 out of 25 possible points, resulting in a score of 60. Some scores are slightly more complex as they're not based on a simple 1 to 5 rating. For example, the form expects that you'll sleep eight hours per night. As a result, you'll earn a perfect sleep hour score if you always sleep eight hours. If you require more or less sleep to feel rested on a regular basis, you'll want to change how this score is calculated so it fits you better. You can do this easily by clicking on the score in the spreadsheet and looking at the current equation in the Google Docs function bar. It'll look like this:
The part you want to pay attention to is the number 8. Change that to how long you need to sleep to feel rested and your sleep hour score will adjust as a result. Other categories assume certain averages as well. For example, you're expected to drink eight glasses of water per day and exercise for 15 minutes per day (or any combination of time that adds up to 105 minutes per week). Feel free to adjust these averages as you wish, or just leave the defaults.
Score Card Scores
The Score Card, or the second page of the spreadsheet, calculates scores based on your overall performance in select categories. Here's a look at what each score means and what affects it.
Eating Score This score is determined by how often you eat all three meals per day. So long as you remember to eat them all every day, your score will be perfect. If not, it'll drop. This should be an easy score to keep high.
Drinking Score This score is determined by the average number of glasses of water you drink each day. If you get in your 64 ounces (1.8 litres) of water you'll earn a perfect score. (Note: If you don't believe 64 ounces of water per day is the proper amount, you should change this equation to reflect how many glasses of water you believe is required. The section above explains how to do this.)
Healthy Eating Score This score is determined by how healthy your meals are on average. Healthier eating earns you a higher score.
Overall Diet Score Your overall diet score is an average of all the aforementioned scores (meaning if you eat, if you drank enough water, and how healthy your meals were).
Sleep Score This score is determined by how well and how long you slept. If you wake up often during the night, this score will drop quickly.
Exercise Score The exercise score considers how frequently your exercise and for how long.
Emotional Score Your emotional score is determined by how you rated the way you felt on a regular basis.
Procrastination Score Your procrastination score is determined by how rarely you procrastinate.
Average Score Your average score is the average of every category score.
Physical Average The physical average only takes into account body-related aspects in the daily inventory and ignores your emotional state. You'll want to compare this number to your emotional score on a regular basis. In general, they should match up pretty evenly because how your body feels should be pretty close to how you feel in general. If they're pretty disparate, you might want to consider why that is. For example, if you're feeling unhappy but your overall physical well-being is quite good, you'll want to take some time to figure out what internal and external forces are making you feel bad.
The Score Card Graph
The Score Card Graph is just a graphical representation of the Score Card page. It's often easier to see where you stand with the graph, so you'll probably find yourself looking more at it than the numerical score card. This is just a general overview, however, so if you want more statistics you have a couple of options. First, you can take any of the data in either of the spreadsheet pages and create a graph of your own. Second, you can go to the Form menu and choose "Show summary of responses". This will bring up an analysis of your answers for each individual question and provides a great visual representation of your responses.
Taking Your Personal Inventory Further
This personal inventory is just a set of broad questions to give you a basic understanding of possible problems in your life. It's not meant to be specific to anyone, so you may find that you want to add more questions to the form to collect data that is directly relevant to your life. To do that, just go to the Form menu and choose "Edit form". From there you can add questions and alter existing ones to make the daily inventory one that suits you perfectly.