Elliot Lynde

Energy Experiment

January 2013
Month-long experiment measuring my energy levels throughout the day.

Why measure my energy?

I find it hard to accomplish almost anything outside of work. It’s easy to say “I don’t have time” but really, even if I work long hours, it shouldn’t be hard to find at least an hour every day to write, code on a side project, learn a language, etc. Even if I worked 10 hours every day (I try to work fewer than that), commuted two, worked out one and slept eight, I’d still have three hours left over.

I really think that the limiting factor is energy, not time. After a long day of work, I don’t have the energy to work on something else. Even during the workday, my energy seems to fluctuate. Sometimes I’m on fire. Sometimes my brain feels like mush.

After seeing someone mention a similar experiment on Hacker News I was curious to see if my fluctuations in energy were predictable. If I understood them well, I could at least plan my day better around them if not smooth out my energy to avoid crashes.

How I did it

To measure my energy, I made a simple Android app that would pop up every hour, vibrate and ask me what my energy level was. To keep things simple, I just did three levels.

Ideally, I would have a system for passively measuring my energy level to eliminate any bias I might add but I couldn’t think of anything feasible.

What I learned

I didn’t allow myself to look at the graphs while I ran the experiment to avoid bias. After the month, here is what I saw:

So what does this mean? I think there are a few things:

I tend to crash after lunch and in the evening after work.

This is really good to know. To smooth-out the after lunch crash, I might try to nap more often or workout then. In the least, eating a smaller lunch might help smooth out that crash. To preempt the after-work crash, I could spend my commute (on a shuttle) relaxing so I feel recharged when I get home.

I’m a night owl.

I actually thought I wasn’t too much of a night owl anymore but this experiment says otherwise. As you can see in the graph, my energy levels are pretty high at night. Maybe I’ll experiment with trying to change this in the future.