Category Archives: Lifestyle factors

Fitness tracking the quality of my life

Fitness and other tracking systems have the potential to measure some aspects of quality of life and possibly suggest changes that will improve future quality of life. I have worn a simple fitness tracker (a pedometer-style step-counting watch) for almost two years and have now combined the fitness tracker data with other sources – my real-life and online social activity – to look at how quality of life might be assessed.

The fitness tracker tells me my total steps and primitive measures of sleep. The real-life activities are social and work activities from my diary and photographs from my camera (which fill in gaps about where I was). The online activity is taken from the number of email and Twitter messages that I have sent per day. Some of the data is noisy and I have averaged over a week.

The take-home message is that physical activity improves quality of life. Twitter (or at least the way I have been using Twitter) has a negative impact. Doing more to be outside the house, even simply taking my activity to another place, would improve my fitness and happiness.
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All I want for Christmas

Christmas-TreesChristmas is one of the hardest times of the year for many people with autistic spectrum disorders. The combination of sensory exposure and social exposure can lead to sensory and emotional overload, often without the usual safe spaces to go and decompress because there are so many people present in the house.  Equally, Christmas can be an opportunity to travel though some well-rehearsed and pleasing rituals with beautiful sensory experiences. I hate and love Christmas in equal measure.

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Distraction-free writing

Most people find it hard to settle down to work, especially a new task that begins with a blank page or pile of materials. Some of us rush out and buy a brand-new set of pencils, brushes or whatever tools in the hope that the thrill of opening some lovely, new toy will into a thrill for the job in hand. The reality is that work is often work — and if you have a job that is play, that is absolutely wonderful. (Some of the best work I do is play, where my interests and my work are exactly the same thing, so nothing holds me back from starting and keeping going). Mostly, though, work takes effort.

These are some of my techniques to create a space in which work is easier and more productive. Although I am talking about writing, because most of my time is spent putting words into documents, the techniques might be applicable to all kinds of other work leisure.

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