Analytic Cold Turkey

Analytics Anonymous

cold-turkey-featureTo coincide with my recent traffic report for July I’ve opted to take an analytic cold turkey session for a whole English month (totaling 31 English days).

Addictive Background

Having been a big fan of coffee after not being able to drink tea anymore I was blissfully unaware that my intake of caffeine was soaring as my stress and workload in a busy department began to rise. At one point I was drinking 2-3 litres a day and was having some horrible side effects with severe migraines on the weekends when my caffeine intake had dropped. I had to stop drinking caffeinated drinks of all forms in order to maintain a good neurological health and it was hard going.

I can frankly say that I was addicted to computer games for a long time. There are claims that there is no such thing as an addiction to gaming but I can vouch that there is. What changed for me was the realisation that I’d wasted a lot of my precious time and that I played these computer games out of some form of depression. What changed was that I had to dedicate more and more of my time to my part time degree study and it made me wake up to the fact that I’ve really not performed as well as those of similar years and younger.

I’m a big metric fan. I currently only use Google Analytics and the built in statistics that come with WordPress.com but I find that’s enough for me. I could use other metrics more frequently but I find that my favoured options provide the best information quickly and without cost.

Why cold turkey from Analytics?

One of my deep seeded rules that I had established in my development journal was that I would not be lost in the numbers. To elaborate that means I don’t want to get caught up in statistics and miss the value of writing from the heart. What Google Analytics tells me following my Zero Second Bounce saga is that what I see is a tiny trickle of people viewing my words. Taking an Analytic break will not hurt in the grand scheme of things. Whilst you can say it is useful to know who has viewed what, at the moment of posting, producing quality is more important. I’m still committed to my start of week post where they normally perform well. Because my current Study diary is aggressive this current week has taken a bit of a progress hit. I will have spent upwards of 7 hours during the week on study and an additional 10 hours on the weekend. I’m also under pressure because I’m behind the curve and there is a deadline for the fifth and final assignment of this module. (a small violin plays for me).

Am I addicted to the metrics?

I check the stats an unhealthy number of times during the day and for my 3-10 minute scan (depending on whether I’m routing through GA or WP) I could have probably written a good 200 words. I often have a sense of guilt after looking because I’m wary that I should actually be doing more. That sense of guilt seems to be driven by others trying to sell gadgets to make you more productive. As a core exercise it is a time to dial out the negative monologue, the constant checking, the guilt.

From the 1st to the 31st August I will observe a Blogging Analytical black hole. It is not quite as solemn an event as 2 minutes silence but it is just as valuable. I will steer clear of WordPress.com and Google Analytics and log my attempts to try and visit and my thoughts along the way. I will also not be allowed to contribute in the Google+ Analytics Community until I return to viewing my analytics. The very notion of the word Analytics may be enough to trigger me to look.

Analytical Methadone?

Methadone_3492c

Who swapped the methadone for the fairy liquid? – Credit The Times

Is there an analytical methadone on the market? No because it is cold turkey. 1000 hail Mary’s if I break my own rules.

For any poor sufferers of real addiction that may involve a padded room and a few restraints you have my sympathy.

Fortunately there aren’t any negative side effects like heart palpitations or extreme sense of anxiety (well at first anyways).

I opted to dispense with a special mantra if I feel my wayward self start to be pulled to the Metric tow:

Not gonna look, not gonna look, not gonna look!”

Check back with me in September and see how I did! See if I beat July or failed miserably.

To conclude; how do you cope with your analytic/metric addiction? Are you disciplined enough to look once a week? What’s your coping strategy? Let me know in the comments below.

3rd December 2013: The followup to this post entitled Analytic Cold Turkey: A month on provides the log of how August went. You may be surprised by the results.

4 Comments Analytic Cold Turkey

  1. Sminso

    I have this same issue! I have my analytics tab pinned in my browser and probably check 4-5 times a day, maybe more. I just closed it, going to check every other day! Thanks for the reminder!!!

    Chris

    Reply
    1. Jackson Davies

      Hey Chris, thanks for commenting! Checking every other day sounds better than 4-5 times a day in my book. In addition you may feel a bit more cheerful because you aren’t dealing with raw numbers but getting to grips with your content. I’ve had more time for social media since I stopped looking so much and that has helped my publicity. I hope you see some positives come from your change! Cheers, Jackson.

      Reply
  2. Tony C

    Hi Jackson, this is an excellent article! I am in a category of little to no analytic data. Although I do check Google Analytic about once a week. I am still learning how to understand the data. I haven’t even found the Word Press data. Where can that be found? I have stumbled on Alexa. That is a sad view for a young blogger. At this point analytic data is more of a feel good thing for me than a position of monetization, although, that is a future goal of mine.

    Reply
    1. Jackson Davies

      Hi Tony, thanks for your valued comment!!

      I would say that checking your stats once a week is outstanding in terms of remaining with focus to work on your posts. I often struggle to go more than a day at some points mostly because of the WordPress Stats.

      Now, as you asked, getting WordPress stats is an easy process. I know that you already have a hosted WordPress site so you will need to head to WordPress.com and create an account there. You will then be able to link your site. Because it runs on the WordPress code it has already been logging your activity so you’ll be able to see back to day one. The stats are located on the second tab. The reader tab allows you to add blogs that you are following which is useful although some blogs may have issues with their RSS feeds which drives me nuts. If you need some help with this give me a shout.

      Alexa is depressing for newbies, agreed. If you can gather enough pace and have a big social media footprint you can get quite deep into the Alexa metrics but for most beginners it is a long ladder to climb.

      I think you’ve got the right mindset for analytics at the moment. Some of the big guns say that you should think about monetization at the start but I’m of the thought that you should learn to walk before you can run.

      Reply

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