How I track my life with Integromat, Airtable, Shortcuts and Timing (et al)

Yes! I switched from IPhone 6S to IPhone X after I listened the Automators episode about NFC tags. I always buy used phones and paid only 500 € (about 550-600 $?) for a model with 256 GB storage. And you’d probably get IPhone 7 for much less. :thinking:

1 Like

HOW I TRACK MY EXERCISE

I track my exercise with Fitbit Versa “fitness watch”. It doesn’t share its data with Apple Health and the exercise categories don’t match, so I came up with a workaround.

When I start exercising, I run “Exercise” (Treeni) shortcut, which:

  1. Asks what kind of exercise I’m about to do.
  2. Starts a new timer at Timing app.
  3. Logs to my “Time management” (Ajanhallinta) base that I’m starting exercise.
  4. Reminds me to start exercise in Fitbit.
  5. Sends a Pushcut notification that says “End Exercise” (Lopeta Treeni) to wait for me to stop the exercise.

When I stop the exercise, I first end the exercise at the Fitbit and then click the “End Exercise” notficiation Pushcut sent me earlier (because it’s easier for me to find it from notifications than anywhere else).

This runs a shortcut called “End Exercise” (Lopeta treeni), that:

  1. Runs a shortcut that stops the Timing timer/tracker that was running and asks how I’m feeling (the same shortcut I run in mornings – how good/focused/energized I feel, what feelings I experience and a comment about my feelings/mood).

  2. Shows a Pushcut notification “Export Exercise” (Vie treeni) and opens Fitbit app on my phone, so that I can update the exercise info from my Fitbit Versa to the app and Fitbit cloud.

When Fitbit Versa has updated my exercise info, I click that Pushcut notification “Export Exercise” and it starts a scenario in Integromat.com.

Here’s the whole scenario in Integromat:

The Integromat scenario is triggered by Pushcut. Then it queries Fitbit API for the last exercise. Then it finds the record ID for that day’s Daily Summary record (to be added to exercise record to link it to Daily Summary table). If the exercise was Walking, it takes the “lower route”, if it was something else it takes the upper route that doesn’t deal with kilometers. (I don’t run, bike or swim.)

The rest of the steps are written on this image:

When the Intergromat scenario has saved my exercise info to Dropbox as json-file, it triggers a Pushcut notification on my phone (and iPad) that tells me that I can now export the details to Apple Health. I tap on the notification and start “Exercise to Apple Health” (Treeni Apple Healthiin) shortcut.

In the pictures the ones with English are from my iPad that doesn’t have Apple Health app, so there’s one screen capture in Finnish from my iPhone to show you what kind of things I log to Apple Health.

Since Apple Health has different health categories than Fitbit, the shortcut asks me to choose a new name for the Exercise.

So here’s how my exercise info looks like in Airtable. Notice how the exercise info is appended with my comments (Kommentti) and feeling/focus/energy rating from “Feeling” Shortcut. Those are also logged to “Fiilikset” table where I have all my Feeling-records.

2 Likes

this is some :exploding_head: seriously :exploding_head: cool automation you have there! thank you for taking the time to sharing this.

I feel inspired already :muscle:

2 Likes

HOW I LOG MY RECEIPTS

I’ve been practicing logging my personal purchases for about a year now. I’m not still at a point where I would log all my purchases, but I do log most of the purchases I do in stores. The idea is that at some point I would have detailed log of all my finances and would then make better choices and be better at budgeting. Until then this practice helps me become more aware of my buying habits.

I have three Shortcuts for logging my expensis:

  1. “Export receipt” (vie kuitti) that starts by scanning the receipt. I just changed the Shortcut to use the scan-function from Toolbox Pro (yes, I have the paid version). Below you’ll find the screencaptures of that shortcut.
  2. “Export a finished receipt” is a variation of this shortcut and works with photos of receipts I’ve saved to photo library (for instance from my bank’s app).
  3. “Export just an expense” lets me just log an expense without a receipt.

When I go to the grocery stores I use the most, Pushcut sends me a notification that opens the “Export Receipt” shortcut if I tap it. I have a NFC tag on my wallet that triggers a menu with all the three expense logging options and my Routines shortcut has also a submenu for the expense logging options. The easier I’ve made it for myself to run the shortcut, the more likely I’m to actually use it. :slight_smile:

All this info is logged to my “Time Tracking” Airtable.

1 Like

And I haven’t even shared yet all the other ways I use Pushcut to either notify me of what Integromat does or to trigger other Shortcuts. :smiley:

1 Like

USING INTEGROMAT IOS APP TO LOG THINGS

I really like Integromat’s iOS app that has solved a long time problem I’ve struggled with – namely having ability to log my “moves” during the day to a database without me having to do anything.

I have set up in the app dozens of locations I most often visit – and other random places are covered by larger “city” areas.

I have set up a scenario at Integromat-website that filters the entry/exit information sent by my phone and then logs to my “Time Tracking” database either “I arrived to [Circle name]” or "I left from [Circle name].

At first some of the updates did “hang up” in the app, stopping the queue until I deleted the one update. Since the recent updates the app has worked without a hitch.

Here’s how the filters work:

The app also sends a message to Integromat website anytime I create a new event in particular calendar(s). A scenario at the website then creates two logs for that event – one on the day/time I created the event to let me know that “I created the following event” and one on the day/time when the event actually is, so that I don’t have to log it in that day. Or if I end up canceling or not going to the event, I’m reminded that “this was the day the event was supposed to take place”.

I don’t meet that many new people, but I have the app log any new contacts I create to my “Time Tracking” database as well, just to remind me when I added that contact to the database.

I could send all the photos I take to Integromat as well, but don’t see a point doing that. I don’t use Apple’s reminders app, so that function isn’t in active use either.

1 Like

SHORTCUTS AUTOMATION BASED TRACKING/LOGGING

  1. When I open either Messages, Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger, I get a notification that asks if I want to log with whom and why I am messaging. If the messaging (and the day it took place) is worth noting, I tap the message and run a shortcut that presents me with a list of most common people/groups I message. The list includes “other” option. If I choose that, I get to input the name of the person. Then the shortcut asks the topic/content of the message and creates a log in Airtable that includes the name of the messaging app I used.

  2. Whenever I open the phone “app”, I get a notification that asks if I want to log the phone call. If I click the notification, I run a shortcut that is basically a copy of the messages-shortcut. I usually log just the most important calls.

  3. Whenever I want to limit my social media use, I turn on a shortcut that lets me use Twitter/Facebook for 90 seconds after I open the app(s) and then presents me with the current day view of Things (todo) app. :smiling_imp:

  4. Like I mentioned in my description of the Overcast app shortcut, whenever I open Overcast it logs the podcast I’m currently listening.

  5. Whenever I open Audible app I get a notification that asks me if I want to log the book I’m listening or my progress. To share the book I have to use Audible’s "Share my Progress -function and a “Audible book info” shortcut from the share sheet. That creates a json-dictionary-file with books information parsed. If I have already exported the book I’m listening, the shortcut gets the json-dictionary-file for the book and asks me manually give the chapter and the location I’m at. It’s better than nothing but not as handy as Overcast’s sharing function.

1 Like

MY EVENING ROUTINE

Getting kids to bed

When I take my kids (10 and almost 7) to their bedroom, I open the Simply NFC app with my “Open” shortcut and read the NFC tag on the side of my kid’s table.

This starts the shortcut sequence (pictured below) that:

  1. Figures out that it is evening (the otherwise step).
  2. Turns off the lights in their room.
  3. Starts playing “The kids’ evening” (lasten ilta) playlist.
  4. Runs the “Put the kids to bed” (Nukutan lapsia) shortcut that starts a new Timing timer and logs to Airtable that I’m now starting to put the kids to bed.
  5. Runs “Stroke kids” (Silitä lapsia) Pushcut notification.

I recently changed my evening routine to help me avoid all kinds of temptations like watching Netflix/HBO or social media in the evening. “Stroke kids” Pushcut reminds me of what I’m supposed to do in the evening. Notification’s title says “Stroke kids” and in the message area are the next steps after that.

The first thing I need to do is to stroke my kids a few minutes to raise their oxytocin levels and help them relax and sleep better (I’m into biohacking) – and of course make them feel loved. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Once I’m done with that, I tap the notification and get a new Pushcut notification that reminds me to export the photos of the day and do my evening check-up.

Export Day’s photos (Vie päivän kuvat)

When I tap the newest Pushcut notification, I start the “Export Day’s photos” shortcut, that shows me all the photos from that day. I choose the photos I want to remember from that day and then give a short description to each of them. First the shortcut shows me the photos one at the time, so that I remember what photo I’m going to comment on, then I add my comment and some tags.

Since Apple uses now heic-format and Airtable doesn’t do good job reading that format, the shortcut converts the photos to jpg. The photos are logged in my Time Management Airtable base with the time that they were taken – another way to help me remember what I did when during the day.

Meme-photos that I save to photos don’t usually have creation time/date attached to them, so the shortcut gives them time/date for Airtable.

After the shortcut has exported all the photos to Airtable, it creates a Day One post with the photos and the descriptions.

Finally, the shortcut asks if I want to do my evening review.

Evening review

Evening review (iltakatsaus) shortcut first gets the json-dictionary I saved in the morning when I did my “Morning plan”. It then reminds me what I planned and asks me to comment on the plans – did I feel what I wanted to feel, did I get my most important thing done etc. If I didn’t do the morning plan, I still get to answer the questions.

Once I’m done reviewing my morning plans, the shortcut asks me to rate my date on 1-5 scale (5 is best) on following dimensions:

  1. Overall score for the day (Päivän arvosana)
  2. Meaning(fulness) (Merkityksellisyys)
  3. Clarity (Selkeys)
  4. Productivity/Effectiveness (Tuloksellisuus)

I got this dimensions from a book one of my friends, Maaretta Tukiainen, has written (in Finnish).

Then the shortcut asks me more questions:

  1. What I could learn from this day?
  2. What I’m proud of or satisfied with?
  3. What have I been grateful for today?
  4. What was most fun today?

Then the shortcut saves my answers as a json file to Dropbox, logs them to Airtable “Time Management” base and creates a new Day One note.

After that Pushcut reminds me of the last steps of the day:

  1. Brush my teeth, take my supplements and do my skincare routine.
  2. Write to ReMarkable tablet my “evening pages” in the same file I wrote my “morning pages” in the morning (and have the tablet OCR my handwriting and send the result to a special email address, so that Integromat can log it to Airtable and I can copy it later to Day One).

Since I often spend some time with my spouse between those last two steps and don’t really need reminding of them (since they’ve been the same for a longer time), I don’t need any more notifications to remind me what to do.

When I’m done for the day, I open the NFC reader for the last time and read the same NFC tag I read in the morning. Now the same shortcut figures out that it is evening, turns off the lights, sets my phone on “Do not disturb” -mode, stops the Timing timers (if one is still running) and logs to “Time Mangement” that I’ll start to sleep.

While I’m sleeping, Integromat does a lot of housekeeping, but I will write about those routines some other day, because it’s my time to go to sleep now. :slight_smile:

2 Likes

HOW INTEGROMAT AUTOMATES MY LIFE

I’ve shared in the previous messages various ways Integromat is part of my various workflows.

It does also several automations “behind the scenes”.

Automatic updates to “Time Management” base

Here are some of the automations Integromat runs without my involvement and logs the information to my “Time management” Airtable base (where I collect all the actions I do over the day). Here are the actions it currently logs:

  1. Official Facebook-page updates
  2. My Instagram updates
  3. Personal Facebook profile updates
  4. My Tweets
  5. When I check in Trakt.tv that I’m watching a TV Show/Movie
  6. Uploads to my YouTube video channel,
  7. When I email from my ReMarkable-tablet a diary (morning/evening pages) to a certain email address as a OCRd text

I have several other similar scenario-ideas I’m going to create in the near future, but unfortunately, I have my work and kids, home, spouse and animals to take care of. :poop:

Tracking base and Day Reports

I have at the moment several Scenarios that log information from “Time Management” (Ajanhallinta) database and external sources to my “Tracking” (Seuranta) Airtable base. This base has several Tables, including:

  • Day Reports (Päiväraportit)
  • Feelings (Fiilikset)
  • Exercise (Treenit)
  • Medication (Lääke)
  • Toilet (Vessa)
  • Events (Tapahtumat)
  • Social media updates (Somepäivitykset)
  • Symptoms (Oireet)
  • Supplements (Lisäravinteet)
  • Receipts (Kuitit)
  • Podcasts (Podcastit)
  • Audiobooks (Äänikirjat)
  • Foods I’ve eaten (Syödyt ruoat)

From these the Day Reports is the main table – the others are mostly there to allow me to perform lookup-functions (like how many mgs of medication I took or how many times I pooped per day).

In Day Reports I have just one record per day and this record contains all the data I’ve collected during the day, summarized if needed.

At some point I’m going to create/design a PDF-report with Page Designer block with my Daily summary data, so that I could even make a book of all the data I track (where one page is one day).

Here are Scenarios Integromat runs to update the Day report at the Tracking base once a day:

  1. Creates a new record to Day Reports right after midnight.
  2. Gets the morning and evening weather from Dark Sky and adds them to Day Reports (I have separate fields for morning and evening temperature etc.)
  3. Gets Oura ring activity reports and logs them to Day Reports
  4. Gets Oura ring sleep and recovery reports and logs them to Day Reports.
  5. Gets Fitbit’s daily summary information and logs it to Day Reports.
  6. Gets all the Podcast and Audiobook updates from Time Tracking base and adds them to Podcasts/Audiobook tables.

I have also a Integromat scenario, that copies all the relevant information from Time Management base and creates new records with it in the following Tables at the Tracking base:

  • Toilet
  • Supplements
  • Medication
  • Feelings
  • Symptoms (like headache, menstrual bleeding, Delayed onset muscle soreness, stomachache)
  • Social Media updates

That scenario also updates the following information to the Daily Report table:

  • Menstruation cycle (cycle day, cycle phase, morning temperature)
  • My comment on sleep
  • Heart Rate Variability (HRV) data (by EliteHRV).

Finally, I have a scenario that copies the following logs/records from Time Management (Ajanhallinta) to “Events” (Tapahtumat) Table at the Tracking base (Seuranta) – thus creating a log of things I’ve actively done, thought, experienced:

  • Action I’ve logged to Timing timer/Time Management base over the day (like “working on a project x” or “taking my kids to school” or "Housework).
  • Departures/Arrivals
  • “Done” logs/records from Time Management base (like “emptied dishwasher”, “made my bed”, “let the dog out/in”) that are single actions and not tracked with Timing app.
  • Thoughts/Observations/Ideas/Tips etc. I’ve logged to Time Management base (to remember them later) with a simple shortcut.
  • Photos I’ve added to the Time Management database while running the “Export Day’s photos” shortcut during the evening routine.
  • Comments I’ve written about Audiobooks.
  • Daily Calm meditations (and my comments about the meditations)
  • Feeling comments (without the grades/scores I give to feeling/focus/energy).
  • Morning/evening pages (diary) from ReMarkable (as OCRd text).

Here’s how one of my two update-scenarios looks like:

First, it queries the Day Report database for the record ID of the day report I want to update (= the previous day’s report). Then it queries the Time Management database for all that day’s records. Finally, it filters the records and either creates new records in relevant tables or updates the Day Report table (in the Tracking database).

1 Like

FINAL THOUGHTS ON TRACKING AND MY SYSTEM

Above I’ve described the main principles and steps of my tracking process. There are several minor steps I didn’t go into detail (like how I track random thoughts).

The Time Management base (which I accidentally call Time Tracking database in some of the previous posts) is my daily log where I dump everything. I often use it during the day or the next day to remember what I’ve done, where I was at a certain moment, what did I promise or think, what was the name of the podcast I just listened etc.

I start a new Time Management (Ajanhallinta) base every year (basically just duplicate/clone the base, rename the old base and empty the new base).

Tracking (Seuranta) base is meant for long term use and for comparing different days/weeks/months. The individual tables make it easier to look at the trends as well.

This system is constantly evolving. In the past three days I began measuring my morning body temperature, just because I found the thermometer and found a good spot in my morning routine to take the temperature.

My goal is to remove all the friction from the tracking process and make tracking so easy and intuitive, that I can do it almost without thinking.

My tracking habit has evolved over time. I have weighted myself daily since 2002. I have logged my food on and off since 2002 – sometimes years at the time. I’ve written morning pages on and off for several years – probably since 2005 or so. And before that I used to write “regular diary” ever since I was a kid. I’ve tracked my activity and sleep with Fitbit since 2013 and Oura since 2018. I first tracked what I do and think in 2018 for almost a year. I’ve meditated almost daily for over a year.

I don’t try to start tracking multiple new things at once. I don’t expect to track everything every day. I trust that if tracking something (like purchases) is as easy as possible and feels relevant, I will start doing it more consistently over time. The act of tracking – and being aware/mindful what I’m doing – is the beef here.

Having logs/records to go back to and compare is just bonus.

Questions, comments?

I’m curious to hear your thoughts. What did you get from this? What do you want to try out? Do you want to know more details about some aspect I just mentioned?

3 Likes

As a fellow ADHD data and tracking lover, you are my idol. Thanks so much for taking the time to document all of this.

1 Like

Well, you know how hard it is NOT to do something when you’re excited about it (like share your tracking system you’re so pumped about and no one around you understands with people who “get it”). :joy:

3 Likes

I track a lot of data about myself (not nearly half as much as you) but never managed to sit down and consolidate/integrate it all. I have these ideas that sound great in my head but I am absolutely terrible at putting those ideas onto paper because when I try I end up staring at a mostly blank piece of paper and get discouraged. I really need to work on that.

1 Like

Yes, I think I know that feeling, too, because when I started tracking what I do (in addition to diet etc), I didn’t have a system to do something with the data.

What has really helped me is to shift my focus from how the act of tracking/logging things helps me here and now — instead of thinking that I track/log things to do something with the data.

When I log things, I’m more aware of what I’m doing. As an ADHD person I have a tendency to “disappear” in my own thoughts and walk through my everyday life like a zombie. I get every half an hour a notification from Pushcut to log what I’m doing (if I’m now doing something else that I did half an hour ago). Also NFC tags around my house and CAR “wake me up” from my thoughts and remind me pause and think what I’m doing.

When I log my mundane tasks like emptying dishwasher, I feel like I’m gaining a point or some other reward. For a time (a couple of years ago) I actually had a FileMaker Pro/Go -system that gave me points for doing chores. :joy:

Of course it’s also useful to see your data in one place - like in my Time Management base for daily review and my Day Reports base to see longer trends etc. But that to me is just a bonus.

The other point is that If you now track data in multiple ways, you can almost always download that data later as a csv or JSON and then import in the same system.

To me the easiest way to import large csv-files to Airtable is to open the file first in Apple Numbers, manipulate the data if needed (like replace commas with points or remove unnecessary columns of data) and then just copy the table from the Numbers and paste it straight to Airtable. It works in my experience better than importing CSV straight to Airtable and much better than trying to do the same thing with MS Excel.

2 Likes

Here’s my setup that reminds me to log what I’m doing.

Every 30 minutes from 9am to 10:30pm Integromat runs a scenario that first checks Timing web api if I have a tracker running.

If I have one running, Integromat tells Pushcut to send me a notification that has the title, description and start time of the running timer and offers me a chance to either stop the timer or start a new one.

If I don’t have a timer running, Pushcut sends me another notification that says “What are you doing?” and gives me an option to start a new timer.

To start a new timer I use a shortcut I’ve modified from the one offered at web.timing.com to suit my purposes (like log to Airtable that I started a new timer).

3 Likes

Wow, just wow! Thank you so much for taking time to explain all of this. I’ll be reading it for a few days as I think there are many things here I want to try and use too.

Very much appreciate you taking the time to do this!

1 Like

I’ve just subscribed to the $9/month plan. Was wondering why they didn’t offer a plan in euros since it’s a European company but I guess they don’t use euros in Poland :sweat_smile:.

Have you figured out how to use Integromat to schedule webhook triggers for a later time (that I don’t know at the time of making the automation)?

Also… I have a Withings scale as well, bought in 2016, the app says it’s a Body+ model. On the scale it tells me my bone mass % is about 3% but in the app it tells me it’s 4-5% or so. I know these numbers aren’t reliable at all but I would expect the scale and app to tell me the same number. Do you have the same issue?

Actually, it’s a Czech company but yeah, not from a country that uses Euros. :blush:

I’m not sure I understood your question, but just don’t activate the scenario if you don’t use it yet (from the activation “switch”). :thinking:

And you can add a new trigger later (= new first module) to your scenario.

I wonder if your Withings Health mate app adjust the scale information based on the info it has saved about you in the app (sex, age, height etc)? :thinking:

Thanks for taking the time to write so much of this out! As an ADHD person myself, I know how tricky it can be to find the time to focus.

I think I’ll be coming back here to read this many times in order to get ideas for myself. Time tracking is piquing my interest right now, because this statement of yours really hit home for me:

As an ADHD person I have a tendency to “disappear” in my own thoughts and walk through my everyday life like a zombie.

I also like the reminder to not try to start doing all the things at once, but to build over time, because it’s easy to get carried away and then overwhelmed. :blush:

I have a question about Airtable. I assume you must pay for a plan? Which one do you use? I’ve tinkered with Airtable a bit, but the price is a bit higher than most of the services I pay for.

1 Like

Thank you! I use the one that costs around 24 euros per month, but I use Airtable for work as well (I plan/write my tv show with it).