counting progress

Maths is not my forte. That’s what I tell people anyway. Sure, I did reasonably well at maths in high school, but I’m sure at least some of that was a fluke. And, yes, I have been known to use the word “fun” in describing maths, but I did not like trigonometry, I thought financial maths was tedious, and statistics is one of the most boring things I’ve ever had to study.

But I do have a fascination with numbers and statistics. There is a part of me that is curious about averages and percentages and ranges and trends.

It’s so easy these days to keep track of things like steps walked, kilometres run, blog views, comments, pages read, words written, money spent…

But it’s also tiring. So very tiring. 

So many times I’ve thought to myself, jeez, wouldn’t it be good to go for a run without my phone – just put on my sneakers and run. But then I ask myself how I’d know precisely how far I’d run, and some voice in my mind tells me that I should ensure the run is recorded so that it counts for something. I know it’s ridiculous – all of it – but I slip on the arm band anyway.

And so many times I’ve opened up my Word document with the intention of just writing to my heart’s content without worrying about the word count; and a lot of the time I don’t give a second thought to the word count, but my eyes have a tendency to wander to that figure at the bottom of the window. And even if I hide it (which I almost always do) I sometimes note down the number on a scrap of paper before I hide it because sometimes I just need a concrete way of measuring progress.

Most nights when I log on to WordPress, I avoid looking at the stats page, but curiosity (and probably also a need for validation) gets the better of me now and then, and I tell myself that it’s perfectly reasonable to care about page views and followers.

And maybe these numbers have their place – maybe measuring progress is a necessary part of making progress – but I’ve always run fine without apps in the past, and I’m not writing this story to a deadline or even a minimum word requirement, and I reckon I write more unrestrainedly when I can pretend that no one reads my blog.

So I don’t know why I care about these numbers, but I don’t know that it’s necessarily a detrimental thing. I mean, it’s not like I’m obsessed over these figures (yet…)

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6 thoughts on “counting progress

  1. My career was data management. I lived and breathed trends and statistics. We had a saying that whatever gets measured get managed. Admittedly, I too am a stats nerd … except interestingly, my blog stats.
    But workout numbers? Absolutely!

    • That’s not a bad saying – “whatever gets measured gets managed”. This is why I’ve been avoiding weighing myself for the last 1-2 weeks 😉
      I’m completely with you on workout numbers, but could probably benefit from your guidance on not caring about blog stats!

  2. For somebody who loathed math and never saw the point of it, I am also fascinated by some of the figures that populate our everyday: blog stats, the scale, word counts, baking measurements….

    • Indeed! I suppose a lot of school maths didn’t really have any obvious practical application (and still doesn’t). I’m still waiting for the day I actually need trigonometry for something

  3. I used to find stats (and probability) in high school, and uni boring as well. It was a necessary part of my training though but I never really paid full attention to it. Now that I’m working, I wish I did pay just that little bit more attention. It’s a very useful tool, but also like all tools, can be easily manipulated to tell a story, however you want to tell that story.

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