Step-by-step instructions to Create your own health dashboard for less than $35
In theory, wearing an activity tracker (fitbit, UP, Misfit, etc) is a great idea. You can see how much activity you have throughout the day and if it is looking a bit sparse it can help motivate you to get up and move. If you do this enough times over a sufficiently long period of time you should see results in how you both look and feel. There is a pretty big problem with this standard approach though. Sure, the data is recorded for you, but the only way to view it is so basic you would have to possess a mind like a steel trap in order to really learn anything from it long term.
I can view how many steps I have taken on a single day, OR I can see how much sleep I got the night before, but I have no way of knowing if being more active one day helped me sleep better that night. There isn’t a convenient way for me to learn that I’ve slowly been accumulating a sleep-deficit for the last two weeks, which is why my diet has been hard to follow or my mood has been off.
The health-tracker gizmos and gadgets of the world have solved the problem of gathering the data for us, unfortunately they also hold it hostage with their lack-luster dashboards. Because of this I decided to build my own health and fitness dashboard. Not only that, but I built it in such a way that ANYONE, regardless of technical skill or knowledge, can create their own as well. This step-by-step guide will show you how using a few simple and FREE services connected with a single device which costs less than a lack-luster date with give you more insights to your health and fitness than devices that cost $200-$500!
1 Gmail account with access to Google Drive (FREE)
1 Freeboard.io account (FREE)
1 IFTT.com account (FREE)
1 Misfit Flash ($29.99 or less)
Here is what my dashboard currently looks like. At a glance I can see if I haven’t been getting enough sleep, how efficient my sleep has been, my activity, and how current my data is. You can view the interactive page here: https://freeboard.io/board/P03yCb
Here are the 10 easy steps to creating your own dashboard:
1. The only step in this process that will take some time is going to be ordering your Misfit Flash. If you have Amazon Prime you can get it in 2-days or less, so go ahead and click the link above (or this one here) and order that right away!
2. Next we are going to set up your Freeboard.io account. This is totally free and super easy. Just got to Freeboard.io, click on their big “Start Now” button and enter a username, email address, and password to create a new account. After that go back to the dashboard link I shared with you earlier (https://freeboard.io/board/P03yCb) and in the bottom right click the “Clone” button (see below).
Congratulations! You’ve just made a copy of the dashboard and added it to your own Freeboard account. For now it will still populate with my data, but we’ll get back to fixing that later.
3. Next we are going to set up your IFTT account (stands for If This Than That). IFTT is a service that allows you to connect other services (called “Channels”) and have certain actions taken based upon the criteria you set. For instance, every time it is the first of the month I have IFTT automatically send out an email reminding my roommates to pay up their “house dues” for common house supplies. I also use it to automatically log my activity and sleep information into a google spreadsheet, which in turn feeds my dashboard. So, without further adieu, go to IFTT and create an account using an email address and password.
4. Once your account is created there are only two Channels you will have to activate (Gmail, and Misfit). To do so go to “Channels” in the top right of the IFTT website, then using the large search bar in the middle of the screen search for and activate Gmail and Misfit. The directions on IFTT are easy to follow and you should be connected in no time.
You may have noticed something which at this point could cause some problems. Mainly, Misfit won’t let you set up an account without actually having your Misfit Flash delivered already (frustrating, I know, but we can keep walking through the steps and once your Misfit Flash arrives you can finish up your dashboard).
5. Copy these two recipes for your IFTT account:
The first one will automatically log your activity data for the previous day into a Google Spreadsheet whenever you sync your Misfit.
The second one will log your sleep data ONLY if you have not exceeded 23 hours of sleep for the day… Meaning it should always record your sleep data to a Google Spreadsheet. There is no direct way to ask Misfit to tell you your sleep data through IFTT currently, so this is a roundabout way to get the data.
Ok, we are almost done. For the last steps we are going to have to wait until you have your Misfit Flash and it has recorded data for at least 1 day. Once you have done this you will be able to find the two spreadsheets which IFTT has created in your Google Drive account. Go to the folder titled “IFTTT” and then you will see the “MisfitActivity” and “MisfitSleepLogs” folders. There will be a spreadsheet within each of these Misfit folders which require a few steps to make the data available to the dashboard.
Open up the “Daily Activity Summary” inside of the “MisfitActivity” folder and do the following steps:
6. Select File -> Publish To The Web…
7. Make sure you publish the “Entire Document” and check the box that says “Automatically republish when changes are made”. Then select the “Publish” button.
Close out of the “Publish to the web” menu and then select the “Share” setting in the top right of the page.
8. Click “Get sharable link” in the top right of the menu which appears and then select “Done”.
9. Now, on your own spreadsheet, copy and paste everything that appears between the two “/“s within the red box in the below screenshot. This is a unique identifier for your spreadsheet and we will use it momentarily to update your dashboard.
10. Open up your dashboard which you copied from the earlier Freeboard.io link (For reference:https://freeboard.io/board/P03yCb). If you are logged in to your account you should see a section in the top right of the screen called “DATASOURCES”. Select “MisfitActivity” and in the field labeled “SHEET KEY” paste the unique identifier we got from your Daily Activity Summary spreadsheet. The select “SAVE” and refresh the page.
Congratulations! Your dashboard is now displaying your own information! All that is left is to repeat steps 6-10 for the “Sleep Log” spreadsheet, this time pasting the unique identifier into the “MisfitSleep” DATASOURCE of your dashboard so it uses your sleep data as well.
That’s it. You’re done! You now have a dashboard more advanced and actionable that 90% of the “professional” solutions out there and it doesn’t cost you a thing to keep using it.