Welcome to SAYA

A new, uniquely versatile way to define your goals, track your progress, and achieve your objectives.

SAYA app image

How does SAYA work?

SAYA is powerful and effective because it requires honest introspection and provides accurate accountability over time. Here’s how it works:

1

Determine your Objective.

Your Objective is your overall goal. It could be anything which includes tangible actions. In this example, the Objective is “High level of mental and physical fitness”.

thinking person
activities spreadsheet

2

List all Activities which relate to your Objective.

Organize them by category, and give each activity a score or score range.

3

Set your score Goal.

Your score goal is the average daily score you’d like to achieve over a 7 day period. You should choose a score goal which is challenging but realistic.

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entering data

4

Enter a score every time you engage in one of your listed Activities.

5

Track your progress!

SAYA will keep track of your score and automatically calculate your average daily, monthly, tri-monthly, and yearly score, giving you the vital feedback and accountability you need to achieve your Objective!

SAYA screenshot

Tips for creating your Program

Your Objective

Your list of Activities

activities spreadsheet
  • Create a spreadsheet or table and list everything you do that helps or harms achieving your Objective, and organize these activities by category. For example, if your objective is “Improved health”, activities such as aerobic exercise, weight training, and yoga make sense grouped together in a “physical movement” category, while alcohol, processed foods, and icecream – fittingly placed in the “food” category – are harmful to your objective.
  • Chose helpful Activities that you are realistically going to do and harmful ones that you know will happen.

Scoring

Setting your Goal

Instructions for using the app

If you haven't aready, download the app.

When you first log in to SAYA you are taken to the Main Screen. This is the screen where you can quickly see how you are tracking against your Goal. Notice that you are on the TODAY screen; the 7D, 1M, 3M and 1Y options display scoring averages for those time periods.

Tap the person icon in the upper left corner. This takes you to the My Account Screen.

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1

Entering your Goal

Enter your 7 day average score goal as well as your Objective and tap Save. You can change either any time.

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2

Adding Categories

It’s time to create your Program.

Tap + ADD CATEGORY.

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Enter the name of your category.

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3

Adding Activities and editing Categories

To add an Activity to a Category, on the Main Screen tap Edit under the Category name.

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Press “Add New Activity”.

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Enter the name of your Activity.

Choose whether your Activity has a positive or negative score.

Enter your Activity’s default score.

If your activity has a score range, select this radio button and enter the range below.

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4

Entering Scores

When you do an Activity, tap the + sign to the right of the relevant Category name.

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If your Activity has a default set score, simply select it from the list and press “Save”.

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If your Activity has a score range, use the slider to select the pertinent score and press “Save”.

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5

Archival view

Your day’s Current Score.

Current Score Effect. This number is your immediate Moving Average.

Today’s Minimum Target. The minimum score you need to achieve today to align your 7 Day Moving Average with your Goal.

All scores for your day’s completed Activities are shown within their respective Categories.

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Score Reporting Period. You may view your average daily score and the frequency/score of individual Activities over the reporting period you choose to view: 7 days (7D), 1 month (1M), 3 months (3M), or 1 year (1Y). In this example, the average daily score over the past 7 days is 33.3.

The average score for each Category is shown to the left of each Category name. In this example, the 7-day average daily score for all Brain Activities was 16, and it was 13 for all Exercise Activities.

For each Activity two numbers are displayed: the average daily score for that Activity within the reporting period and the total number of instances for that Activity.

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The other archival display is the graphing function. Tapping the top right toggle on the Main Screen takes you to a graph showing your scoring over time. The bars represent your score on individual days while the white line shows the 7 day moving average.

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Why does SAYA work?

SAYA works because it is an easy to use system that was developed and refined over years to respond to a real world need. It is too easy to roll through the days and weeks thinking you are getting a decent amount of exercise, not drinking too much, and focusing on your health when in reality you don’t actually know how you are doing. We tend to minimize or forget about the things that detract from achieving our Objective. SAYA was created to quantify and track how you are actually doing in your quest to achieve an Objective that requires persistence and accountability. Here are the core principles:

It doesn’t matter what you do on any given day. This is central to why SAYA works. Your health is a combination of the helpful and harmful things you do over time, just like your cholesterol test shows a 3 month average. Any Objective that requires persistence and accountability is not going to be achieved quickly, so achieving a high score last Tuesday doesn’t mean much in isolation. Skipping an afternoon workout to meet friends and gorge on pizza and beer is not going to crush your fitness if you are maintaining a 7 day moving average that reflects a high level of physical activity. SAYA allows you to systematically plan for and react to low scoring days by achieving high scoring days around it. Life happens - you have family obligations, business travel, work deadlines. Uninterrupted streaks are not necessary. Your 7 day and 30 day moving average score is a much more accurate determiner of your success than how many days you can go in a row doing or avoiding doing something. If you have a well thought out Program, your Goal is achievable but ambitious, and you achieve it most days of the month, you will achieve your Objective.

There are multiple routes to achieve an important Objective. If you look at my Program, you see that I can get to +35 by combining many different Activities. Because my Objective is relatively broad – to maintain top physical and mental performance and increase longevity – most combinations of Activities that get me to a +35 will make me feel physically and mentally on top of my game. It’s true that if all I did was read books all day and eat vegan I could achieve a +35 every day but I never do that. The Activities in my Program reflect years of paying attention to what makes me feel strong, smart and unstoppable on my best days, and what Activities make me physically slow and mentally sluggish.

Not all bad habits and helpful intentional actions are created equal. Smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer are not the same thing. Each has a deleterious effect on your health, yet they affect different people in different ways. You, the user, have to decide how to score these Activities in a way that makes the most sense to you. You can create any scoring regime you want, just make sure the relative magnitudes are appropriate. If you know something has a large, negative effect on you then score it a as several fold larger than something negative but relatively minor. If smoking a cigarette is a -15, make caffeine a -3. Recalibrate your scoring when you realize something is scored in a way that is not reflecting its true effect on you relative to other things.

Whether or not you achieve an Objective is a due to a multitude of factors, not a single one. You can use a device to track how many steps you take in a day because you believe a certain number of steps is good for your health. If you eat lots of cheese and red meat, smoke cigarettes and eat lots of sugar the 10,000 daily steps don’t mean much. If you already track things like steps, calories and hours of sleep make them Activities in your Program but don’t rely on any single Activity as an indicator of a complex Objective.

Accountability is elusive without quantification of your effort. When you were in school accountability was straightforward - it was your grades. In the post-school world, we don’t get graded often. It comes in the form of promotions, cholesterol tests, disease diagnoses, salary increases, injuries, and other significant events. On the vast majority of days none of these things happen. The vast majority of days are when you influence how well your life goes. Think of all the Activities you would assign a negative score to; no one but you is going to stop you from doing them. SAYA was created around the central tenet that you know yourself better than anyone else, and therefore you are the best person to decide how much an Activity helps or harms your efforts to achieve your goals. The only requirement is that you be honest with yourself. Using SAYA effectively will cause you to confront your vices.

The more you can quantify an Activity the easier it is to see its realistic effect on achieving your Objective. Riding an exercise bike can be quantified by the time you ride it, or better yet how many calories it says you burned. A 400 calorie stationary bike session takes me 30-35 minutes and scores a +10. If my session got cut short and I only rode 216 calories, I score it a +5. Take the same approach for grams of sugar consumed, minutes spent meditating etc.

When tracking is simple and quick, people are more likely to do it. You might think this is a rat race, that looking at your phone and entering data about what you do every day is a burden. That’s understandable, but you already look at your phone many times per day. Every Activity in my Program on page 4 is an inflection point that affects me. Entering a score is satisfying because it reminds you that you are pursuing an important Objective and SAYA is helping to achieve it. It’s not possible to get sucked into wasting 20 minutes on SAYA like you would on social media because entering scores and viewing your scoring trends is fast and simple and there is nothing else to do in the app.

What is the evidence that SAYA works?

I could tell you that when I keep my 7 day and one month moving average scores at or above 35, I feel great and my mental performance is sharp, and it would be true. I can correlate failures or negative health events to dips in my longer term moving average as well. Some days I score as high as 70, and in the evening on those days I feel great. All of this sounds too subjective.

Use of objective measurements, to the extent they are diagnostic of your Objective, are the best way to evaluate how well your Program works if you have been meeting or exceeding your Goal. The Program I have followed for the last 5+ years is in many ways a roadmap for increasing longevity. I recently had my biological age tested using an epigenetic diagnostic test that measures reversible changes to your chromosomes. If you followed my Program and scored high over time (lots of exercise, meditation, healthy diet etc.), the test would show that your biological age is lower than your chronological age. By contrast if you followed my Program and scored low over time (lots of alcohol, sugar, lack of sleep etc.), the test would show that your biological age is higher than your chronological age. My results showed that while my chronological age is 49, my biological age is 44. I am aging slower than 82% of the population. I am certain that if this test was available a decade ago when my 7 day moving average would have been something like -25, my biological age would have been older than my chronological age.

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Different ways of using SAYA

The Program I use is all about health and wellness, which is a driving force behind why many people use self tracking apps. SAYA can be used to achieve any Objective that requires persistence and accountability. Let’s say you are mid-career and want to make a change. You don’t want to dabble, you really want to do it but you have family and work obligations, you can’t quit your day job, so how do you learn how to write software code in your spare time? Give yourself a +15 for an hour of formal instruction (on online class for example); a +7 for an hour of self-directed coding; a +5 for an hour of reading a book on coding. Your typing isn’t that fast so download a typing tutor program and give yourself a +5 for an hour of that. For the negatives, -5 every time you open up Facebook, -15 for an hour of TV, etc. Penalize yourself for wasting time. Set an ambitious but achievable 7 day moving average Goal, and if you meet your Goal, you will learn the new skill even if you are not able to work on it every day.

Why I created SAYA

Life is a series of phases, and most of us can remember a not so great phase. For me it was when I was working way too hard under constant stress, traveling internationally on business, and was burned out after a decade of founding and running a startup. My physical health was poor. I was running one day a week, surfing once a month, and not much else. My caffeine consumption was through the roof and my diet had too much unhealthy food. I was having a drink or two every night. I took Ambien multiple nights per week because my body clock was not in a rhythm from all the travel and stress. An obvious consequence is that my mental performance was not very good. I felt terrible and people noticed.

I recognized what was going on, but I had so many barriers to making real change in my physical and mental wellbeing that it felt impossible to do anything meaningful about it. I couldn’t quit my job because my company had just gone public and I was one of the founders. I couldn’t stop the business travel because the company needed me doing what I was doing. The caffeine and Ambien were things I could taper off but it was too easy to depend on them to manage what my mind and body were feeling. My Objective was to have top notch physical and mental wellbeing, but I was so far from achieving it that it was hard to know where to start. Out of feeling a need to do something rather than nothing, I began tracking things that detracted from and contributed to my physical and mental wellbeing. First I tried to do it in my head, which was basically impossible. For a long time I did it in a spreadsheet, which was cumbersome and inaccurate because you don’t remember all the details of your day by the time you can open a computer. Eventually I saw that a mobile app was the only way to make it easy enough to use that it could really work for people.