Better ways to quantify your life

Part 1 of the “New Metrics for Modern Living”

Tim Wu
5 min readDec 22, 2020
Larry David is generally low SAR (explained below)

So for some time now there’s been a movement to quantify many parts of our lives, on the premise that you might learn something from how many steps you walked, hours slept and so on.

Yet of course such metrics often fail to capture what it really means to live. If your day was ruined by being reamed out by your boss and then dumped by your boyfriend / girlfriend, “calories consumed” may not fully capture that.

Hence in the spirit of our quantitative age I present Part One of a new series of Advanced Metrics for Modern Living. (I am also inspired by the spirit of sabermetrics and Curb Your Enthusiasm). I would deeply appreciate any ideas for improving these metrics.

The Seek/Avoid Ratio (SAR)

“Sorry to bother you, but could I have just 10 minutes or your time?”

On your average day: how much time and effort do you spend trying to reach people, as opposed to trying to avoid people who are trying to talk to you? That is your seek/avoid ratio, or SAR.

SAR is a bit of a funny metric. Ideally it should be in some balance. Like blood pressure, if it is extremely high or low, your life may be miserable.



Tim Wu

Professor at Columbia University; author of “The Curse of Bigness,” “The Attention Merchants,” and “The Master Switch;” veteran of Silicon Valley & Obama Admin.