Kevin Gao’s 6 Rules of Well-Being

My friend Kevin Gao is the founder and CEO of Hyperink, a YC-backed digital publishing company. He recently shared his findings of 6 “rules” (my term, not his) from reviewing 3 years of monthly data tracking his well-being from a variety of metrics. I thought this was a really cool idea and wanted to share it with you.

Here’s the post (reprinted with permission):

Kevin Gao Scorecard Findings

I’ll retype his answer here (with some basic formatting/punctuation added)

Kevin’s 6 “Rules” of Well Being

So for the last 3 years I’ve kept a monthly scorecard of how I do (and how I feel) on a variety of things like health, sleep, family, etc. Just reviewed all of it and here are the 5 main conclusions I came to, thought it was amusing to share!

  1. Don’t sleep past 9am (for some reason my days just get out of whack when I sleep late)
  2. Run more, even if just 15 min/day
  3. Call mom more (right now its usually once/week but when i talk to her more often in a week i feel a lot better)
  4. Meditate more, even if just 5 min/day (can’t handle a lot more)
  5. Stop binge drinking (which according to wikipedia is 5 drinks a night!!…ruins my next day)
  6. Take more weekend trips

Later in the comments he elaborates on the system:

“I got it from, he basically lists a bunch of categories and then every month, rates himself 1-10 on each and writes a few notes. Track through Google Doc”

What can we learn from Kevin’s rules?

First there are the rules themselves: clear, easy and actionable.

It’s easy to look at them and go “Duh! If you exercise more and avoid binge drinking, of course you’ll feel better.” On the other hand, how hard is it to get ourselves to do run a little every day when we feel lazy?

But still, keeping a regular sleep schedule, exercising a little, staying in touch with family, being mindful, avoiding harmful substances and decompressing more frequently are things most of us could stand to keep in mind.

But more importantly is the system. Do you track what makes you happy?

I already do a lot of reflection (daily journal, weekly blog posts, quarterly newsletters) but I’m considering adding this habit because even a 1% improvement over the 480 waking hours a month would be worth 20 mins of reflection.

I found this post on Steve Pavlina’s blog which might be a good place to start.

Do any of you track your well-being? What have you learned?

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Jason Shen

Jason is a tech entrepreneur and talent expert. He is CEO of a performance hiring platform called Headlight, a Fast Company contributor, and an advocate for Asian American men. Follow him on Twitter at @jasonshen and subscribe to his private newsletter.

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  1. Here are the categories I actually track, in case you’re curious. Essentially once a month, I spend 15-20 minutes giving myself a “score” from 1-10 and write a few notes (eg, “Finished a Lynda class on CSS this week”). I used to do it weekly but got lazy and monthly is a cadence I can keep up. Love to hear what people think and how you guys track yourselves!
    1. Habits & Daily routine
    2. Career & work
    3. Money & finances
    4. Health & fitness
    5. Mental development & education
    6. Social life & relationships
    7. Home & family
    8. Emotions
    9. Character & integrity
    10. Life purpose & contribution
    11. Spiritual development

    • @kevingao1 I find that the more I try to track the less I stick to it.  So daily It’s just “Was I better today than I was yesterday(if not how to improve for tomorrow)” and weekly I just write a quick paragraph.  Monthly/Yearly I run similar numbers though.

  2. Great tips, kgao ! And nice job bringing them here, jasonshen ! Thanks to the both of you!I, for one, list all the awesome and nice things that either have happened to me or I’ve achieved myself in a daily journal.  Also, listing all the good things I’ve already got in my life. Reminds me of how lucky I am.

  3. Great post! I’m actually writing a blog post about my own conclusions on this stuff right now(should be live tonight). In a nutshell tracking this sort of stuff has allowed me to realize what little negative actions such as a late night out or even caffeine with dinner can do to me in the longrun.  A day or two of bad sleep completely destroys my motivation and causes me to fall far from my ideal version of myself and the way I came to that conclusion was through careful tracking of my mood and activity levels.(Hint: they’re usually at the lowest when you can’t even be bothered to enter the data)

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