Blog Post

Self-Tracking My Schedule

Tracking apps seem to slowly be taking over our phones and, concurrently, our lives. Nowadays, people are using all kinds of apps to track their exercise and health. I know of an app that reminds you to drink water and lets you store that information into another app that works towards improving your health. These apps seem to be very helpful for some people as their personal data on their health and fitness allow for them to keep a healthy diet, a happy mood, and an altogether good life without requiring them to go out of their way to record their fitness accomplishments or find motivation to continue on with their diets, special activities, etc.

I, unfortunately, am not one to invest much time in self-tracking apps, especially since I feel like I would ignore them anyways. I have tried some of fitness apps, but I always lose out to how to work the technology or how to keep up with what they want me to do. I’ve rarely kept those types of apps for more than a day, so I do not have much experience with tracking myself. I think the only app that I really use that I did not even consider self-tracking until taking this course was my Calendar app on my iPhone. It came with my phone so I did not purposefully look into the app to track myself. It was there, and I used it to add events that I needed to attend, as a way to self-organize.

In order to use the app effectively, I would say that you would have to put in all appointments and events that you have to attend into the app. I put in all my class times which I will admit has helped since this semester has been busy. I also put in appointments with my advisors, job interviews, etc. Not only can you add in the timing of these appointments, but also the locations which are really helpful, especially during the first week of classes if you keep forgetting the room numbers of your classes. I do not input very regularly on the app. It mostly depends on what new appointments I have, but even then sometimes I forget to put it into the Calendar itself, and instead I just write it down in my notebook.

I would say that putting the exact timings of when these appointments occur and on what days they occur can really make the app work efficiently.  If the event repeats, like a class or group meeting, then the Calendar will let you know 30 minutes ahead of time when that meeting is. It is helpful for organizing your life if you add all the data it allows you to add in order to stay on task.

Another feature of the Calendar app is that you can sync with other people’s calendars. This means that you would be able to see what other people’s schedules are like. This is an aspect of self-tracking that interests me as it allows for me to know when my friends are available. I used this feature to schedule time to hang out with my roommates, as we all used the Calendar app to schedule our days in order to find out what time we could spend together and what times we would all be busy. This has proved to be extremely helpful, especially with how busy this semester has been for all of us. I personally found this helpful, but there are aspects of it that can seem questionable, such as having easy access to other people’s schedules and having data being shared quite easily about precise locations and events.

What I find interesting about the app is how it connects to other websites and software to allow for everything to be scheduled into one app. I experience this firsthand with my Google Calendar. There’s no app for Google Calendar (that I know of), but I have used it to schedule certain events and activities, and this has proven to be helpful to me. However, I was not aware of ever having synched my Google Calendar with my iCalendar, and yet there were all of my appointments on my phone, notifying me despite the fact that I never manually put it in the app. Additionally, appointments that anyone made for me through their Google accounts synch to their both their calendar as well as both of mine (Google and iCalendar).

I previously believed that there was nothing to sharing data with iCalendar, but knowing that it can automatically take information from Google and perhaps other big data sharing companies seems like something that I would have wanted to know beforehand. It also treads sketchily on ethical grounds. I have tried looking up the privacy policy and terms of use for the calendar app on my phone, and I have not been able to find anything on it. In addition, if you think about it, this app comes automatically with your iPhone, which means you are not exactly choosing to have it on your phone. And since it has access to your data, shouldn’t we be aware of exactly what data it will have access to before purchasing the phone? Not that this would stop anyone, but it is something to consider when dissecting potential issues with this app. The same applies to the Health app, the News app, and really all the apps that we are automatically given on the iPhone.

Personally though, when I think about it, I am grateful to have an app that allows me to budget my time. I never really thought about using an app to track myself, but I suppose I have been using one without even realizing. This app, unlike other self-tracking apps, does not post to social media. However, I had mentioned before that it was possible for friends to access your calendar information through syncing your calendar with theirs. This allows for sharing information like other self-tracking apps, though in a more controlled manner that manages to be restrictive enough to keep the information private. At present, I do think that a semblance of privacy is important, especially since we do share a lot of data with third-parties. However, it is clear that people don’t seem to mind that their data is being shared if the app is extremely convenient and easy to use (like this one – for the most part).

I know that there are many calendar apps out there today, ones that don’t come automatically with the iPhone, and it’s possible that their features are more advanced than the calendar app that the iPhone uses. I could definitely see it incorporating more features than just scheduling and perhaps even the ability to connect with other websites besides Google. In a way it is fascinating that something as ordinary as a calendar can be turned into an app that enhances its regular functions and adds on to it with other uses that serve to be very helpful in punctuality and organization. I believe that they have made my life much easier by helping me understand what time is being used up and what time I still have to myself. I also think that it would be more beneficial for me if I were to use the app more to its fullest potential in order to stay organized in my life.  



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