How to set your own personal KPIs
When Chris Wolski joined our team he started pitching us an idea: integrate MapMyRun and Klipfolio to track your running stats.
As a running enthusiast, this naturally piqued my interest. The idea of using Klipfolio to track my own personal KPIs was endearing, and, oddly, something I hadn’t given much thought.
Working in a data-obsessed industry (analytics & business intelligence), it’s not hard to imagine folks tallying up their own personal KPIs.
After all, if you take great pride in your work you are likely in constant pursuit of trying to do as Cal Newport wrote in Deep Work:
"Wring every last drop of value out of your current intellectual capacity.”
So there's no doubt that in the sum of all the business optimizations there’s a nugget of truth in this:
We all want more value out of our personal lives.
It’s why we try to exercise regularly, eat healthy, make sure we get enough sleep, and even carve out some time to unwind and meditate. These things, among many others, are our attempts to optimize our own lives.
How to set your own personal KPIs
Remember this one thing about KPIs and you’ll be set: KPIs are guideposts designed to illuminate your path and keep your end goal in perspective.
In the business sense, KPIs are typically tied to financial objectives and business outcomes. For example, if you want to increase revenue you'll take your current position and use KPIs to plot your way forward.
Smart KPIs don’t require giant leaps to achieve; they focus on small, achievable steps that keep your goal in sight and keep your team motivated.
In setting your own personal KPIs, it's important to consider your end goal and then ask yourself:
What do I need today to start on this path?
If your goal is to wake up every morning at 5AM, but today you struggle to get out of bed by 7AM, it’s a bad idea to just switch your alarm clock. I bet you’ll get better results by moving your alarm back 15 minutes every week for a couple months.
Again, it's about the guideposts. They are critical for sustainability.
When setting personal KPIs, I recommend using the SMART criteria. SMART stands for specific, measureable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
- Is your objective Specific?
- Can you Measure progress towards that goal?
- Is the goal realistically Attainable?
- How Relevant is the goal to your life?
- What is the Time-frame for achieving this goal?
How to measure your personal KPIs
Between wearable technology and apps, I suspect you already have access to all the tools you need to track progress on your personal KPIs—whether it be for improving your spending habits or your sleeping habits. In fact, this class of technology is already keen to incent you to achieve your goals.
As this list could be endless, let's look at a few tools for setting fitness and focus KPIs.
Setting your own personal KPIs around fitness
Wearable technology turns into something of an addiction. Join a Fitbit walking group, and tell me you don’t feel compelled to go for a walk.
You won’t find industry icons like Rand Fishkin without a trusty Fitbit, not to mention a story about how it’s changed his life.
Health apps like MyFitnessPal give regular Joe users like myself the ability to track nutrition and calories without a degree in health sciences. Communities like Reddit’s r/loseit are turning tracked stats into rallying calls and inspirational stories.
In an office full of cycling junkies, it’s hard to talk about cycling without giving a nod to Strava. I admit I’ve never used it for cycling, but do use it for running.
Again, Strava allows you to track your performance over time and benchmark to your previous best. It’s ability to save routes and compare your run times is a huge motivator to achieve your personal fitness KPIs.
Setting your own personal KPIs around focus
Insight Timer is used by more than 2 million meditators, making it perhaps the world's most widely used meditation app. What I like:
- starts you simply;
- tracks your streak by starting at 10 days;
- is surprisingly social despite the personal nature of meditaton.
Time trackers don't get any easier than Toggl, and it even allows you to use the Pomodoro time management method—25-minutes of pure focus followed by short breaks.
Panda is a sweet little extension that, in regards to our discussion here, offers "Focus Mode." This allows you to set a to-do list, and make that to-do list open when you open a new tab.
This can serve as a reminder to help you stay focused on what matters most (and think twice before opening up Reddit).
Momentum is like Panda's Focus Mode in that it's all about what your new tab displays. What I especially like about this is "Autofocus," which keeps your to-do list in the right-hand corner.
Quitter automatically hides or quits apps after periods of inactivity. If, like me, you always have Slack and multiple tabs open, you may find that Quitter significantly helps minimize your distractions.
Final thoughts on personal KPIs
As with all KPIs, it's important to take that initial time to really understand what you want to measure, and why. This is why working through SMART is so critical.
With that foundation you'll be able to choose which resources can best help nudge you toward those guideposts.
Lastly, to deepen your knowledge on KPIs be sure to check out our What is a KPI? page.