Tracking the trackers


I realized, while writing my technology post the other day, that I use and enjoy an awful lot applications to track things. I've always been like this--for years I kept lists of Oscar nominees and winners (this was before such things could be looked up online--I'm old). Did I need these lists? No, I just wanted to keep track. I also saved every movie ticket stub I got from 1993-2000. No idea why. I just like to have records of things. Now, though, I don't have to keep endless notebooks full of lists--I can use a world of online tools. So let's discuss them, shall we?

The first thing I remember tracking online was books I'd read. My mom is a big book tracker--she uses a little notebook, making notes of when she started a book, when she finished it, and what she thought. This helps or not to accidentally pick up books she's already read, and it really helps her find titles when she wants to recommend something. I use GoodReads do to basically the same job. I don't use the community aspects much--I rarely write reviews (though I do use star ratings) or make recommendations--but I use it to keep track of what I read in a given year, as well as what I start and don't finish. I have a list of "to read" books there too, though I rarely look at it. I use the iPhone app as well, so I can look things up on-the-go. Finally, I use use a widget from GoodReads to publish "What I'm Reading" section on my sidebar here. Other sites that I know people use for similar purposes are Library Thing and Shelfari, neither of which I have used.

I track the movies I've watched on All Consuming, where I also give a very basic review (just good, bad, or neutral) and use a widget for my sidebar here. I don't love All Consuming--seems like there are quite a few problems with the way the interface works, and I don't like that you are supposed to track all kinds of consumption there--I'd rather have something just for movies. I've thought about switching to something else, but I've never gotten around to it. Other sites that track movies you've watched are Coollector, iCheckMovies, Movie Tally, and Flixter.

There have to be a million places you can track what you eat and how much and how hard you work out, and I think I've used most of them. The one I used for the longest time, and first, was FitDay. I found it to be really useful and easy to navigate, but I ended up having to put a lot of things in manually. Then again, that was several years ago, so the library of foods may have been improved since then. Other options include Livestrong, Sparkpeople, Calorie Counter, Nutridiary, My Fitness Pal, My Food Diary, and on and on. Weight Watchers online has their own system as well, and I would bet other diet programs do, too. I've had it with all of these--turns out my food intake is something that I really don't want to track long-term. But the tools are certainly available if you do.

The only thing for which there are more trackers than food, I think, is money. The web and smart phone world offers 101 ways to track your spending. The two I use are Mint, which I love because I can tie all my accounts together in it and see everything in one place, and Money Engine, which I've recently started using on my iPhone to manually log the purchases I make throughout the day, as a means of keeping myself accountable. Something about the way Money Engine looks just works for me--it's very simple. However, there are a million options. Some of the more popular ones are Mvelopes, Electric Checkbook, Budget Pulse, and Expense Register.

I've actually never used a tracker for household tasks (which you can probably tell if you've ever been to my house), but I know a lot of people do. The ones I've heard mentioned the most are: Chore Buster, Chore Wars (for the WoW crowd), Remember the Milk, and My Job Chart (for kids). People have also been raving about Home Routines for the iPhone.

Menstrual cycle
Since I stopped using hormonal birth control, I've been attempting to track my menstrual cycle. It only recently occurred to me that (duh) I didn't need to do it on my calendar by hand--there's an app for that! First, I used My Monthly Cycles, which I found kinda tedious. Then I switched to Monthly Info, which is a lot more user-friendly and much simpler. I realized, though, that what I really wanted was something on my phone, so I downloaded Period Tracker Lite (the free version), with which I am very happy. If and when I start temping, I may upgrade, but for now, this does everything I want it to do. Other similar apps for iPhone are iPeriod, Aunt Flo, Lady Biz, and Ovulation Calendar. If you want to go old-school, Fertility Friend also has both online and mobile applications. There are also some apps for men to track their female partners' periods, but I am not going to say anything about those.

I *think* those are the only things I am currently tracking electronically, though I'm sure I've missed something. Hit me in the comments--what do you keep track of? Where?


love this round up! I also use mint, but Money Engine is tempting because it *is* the non-fixed expenses that trip me up. If I ever lose my iphone I am lost! :p

This will sound weird, but it gave me a good laugh, my reader, your blog is alphabetically right next to that of a middle-aged lesbian divinity student, and I swear I thought I was reading her post. Imagine the look on my face when you started talking about hormonal birth control. I seriously puzzled for five minutes about why a middle-aged lesbian would need birth control!

Thanks for mentioning expenseRegister in this post. I'd love to hear what you or your readers think about expenseRegister (likes and dislikes). Few things I like are - it is easy to get started (I think).

Disclaimer: I also build and run expenseRegister.

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