For the longest time (probably my entire college career) I’ve meant to implement several systems to monitor and track my productivity. Finally, after dragging my feet for several semesters I figured out several ways to do so my final semester of college. I plan to keep this up through 2017 and continuously reassess and iterate. However, I recognize that graduating, moving to a new apartment, and starting my full-time job will probably interrupt any long-term consistency that I can monitor. But with that in mind, I’m going to try to my best. Currently, the productivity habits I am monitoring consists of sleep, steps, social media usage, daily and weekly goals, and consistency in habits.
Reflecting on first month of new year of habits
This month started with a little bit of a rocky start because I spent the first two weeks laying around my house, reading thought-pieces, getting anxious about starting my final semester of college, and readjusting back to college after a month long break. Most of the data I will be looking at will only really consist of two weeks but I hope my February data will be more complete.
Habits according to HabitBull
A great Android app that I’ve been using is HabitBull. For a basic account you can track up to 5 different habits and track your streaks on a calendar and analyze your success with the data it provides. According to HabitBull, my month of January was pretty meh. The habits I have decided to focus on is: Español (includes listening, speaking, Quizlet, watching tv, writing, and practicing grammar), Move! (more than an hour of exercise), Meditate (try to meditate on a daily basis with Headspace), Read (ya know), Study dev (practice development).
Ultimately, my streaks were very low. The highest ended up being meditating for those sole 3 days and then I didn’t even keep it up, and I’m unsure how to proceed with meditating going forward. My schedule is easier than last semester’s but I don’t have a lot of time to chill and unwind except for bedtime, but I’ve found that I fall asleep when I meditate too close to bedtime. I need to find a time during the middle of the day (when I’m not at work) to do it. Additionally, my consistency for all of the habits have been poor…consistently throughout the weekdays and weekends is difficult to manage.
February Goals: To meditate more. To hit a 4-day streak with Spanish and Move or do either 4x a week. To practice dev outside of class (so on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays instead of just Tuesdays and Thursdays). Find more time to read–I just need to carry my books around a bit more and eliminate my daily article reading.
Wunderlist / Google Cal
For the longest time I tried out many different online to-do list applications and was always disappointed. I might have tried Wunderlist before but when I downloaded it last semester I fell in love. It’s incredibly useful and I can use it for my never ending to do lists, get integrated reminders of due dates for hw on my phone, and I use it for meeting notes. Even better, I somehow got a year of premium because I have a Samsung phone. I also am in a very serious relationship with my Google Cal: the integration, the organization, and more–what’s not to love (mostly kidding). Recently I’ve been experimenting with the new reminders feature, not sure how I feel about them since i mostly ignore them.
February Goals: Organize my general to do list, it has gotten a little unwieldy. In addition, figure out how to better organize my daily/weekly goals and my habits list. Refine my use of reminders.
Online use according to RescueTime
I have been monitoring my online/phone time with RescueTime. It’s a great application that I have installed on my phone and laptop and it gives you a dashboard with percentages of where you’re spending your online time. This one is painful to look at but, unfortunately I need to use social media less *bangs head on desk*. A scary 45% of my online use is on social media which is strictly in my red/not-productive time. I’ve always loved social media, especially Facebook. For the past couple of years I’ve been using social media as one of my channels for curated news consumption and have been wasting time scrolling and scrolling. I definitely need to fix that.
February Goals: I have a February goal to increase Reference & Learning and News&Opinion (with News&Opinion being more intentionally used) over Social Networking. With Social Networking, I’m going to need
Goal Meeting According to my spreadsheet
This whole section was created when I was at a coffee shop for three hours during the first two weeks of the month–so I did do something productive!! This is one of my more ambitious productivity (and maybe even too obsessive and unrealistic, but I want to give it a shot at least) measurement endeavors.
The first screenshot is what my ideal week would look like–this is entirely unrealistic but it is at least a hope. Peep the neon blue that is for my live section, aka my don’t-forget-you’re-a-second-semester-senior-who-needs-to-live-and-have-fun.
I stole the idea for the second screenshot from my friend Ross Garlick and his system for productivity. I edited it a bit to suit my needs and what I need to focus on. He created this system to gamify productivity and I’m using it as a vague tracker to monitor what I actually get done during the day. Obviously the first two weeks of the month were a dud but I slightly got into the habit of updating it everyday. I have a plus/minus list of things that I would like to do/avoid.
The last screenshot is mean to be a to do list that ended up being quite cumbersome and useless aside form the color coordinating/matching with my first shot.
- Figure out a better system of adding and subtracting points, thus far it’s been a bit arbitrary. I need to refine my list and better consider the points I give and maybe give a high, medium, and low priority to each option. Considering making this tab one of my auto-open tabs.
- I don’t think I want to strive for my perfect week so I’m okay with that progress thus far.
- I’m not sure what I want to do with my last sheet. Should I just migrate that to Wunderlist and have it be daily clicks instead of pulling that sheet open and manually crossing it out?? Now that I’m writing this, I think that’s what I plan on doing.
Sleeping and Steps
- Will see if there’s anything I can do about my bedtime and wake up time because my priority thus far has been a focus on 8 hours of sleep.
- Additionally, it seems as if I haven’t even attempted to run outside once (well it’s January). Maybe attempt to this month.
- Increase my goal to 10k steps a day instead of 6k steps a day.
Room for Improvement
- Money Spending
- Oh, I didn’t even try with this one. I haven’t even wanted to look at my spending this month because January always is pricey for me because of birthdays, the start of the semester, and Spring Break purchases. In a weak attempt to keep an eye on my spending, I had the Chase app give me notifications for any card spending over $20. I even tried to have mint.com as one of my tabs to auto open but I very consistently quit out of it. Maybe I’ll try to look at my spending in February?
- News Consumption (I’m going to write about this exclusively in a future post)
- I spend way too much time on news consumption and after reading this article I’m going to need to reevaluate. Going into the Trump administration I had every intention to let the news fuel my activism, however I’ve noticed that it’s been mostly contributing to my anxiety and feeling especially overwhelmed by the end of the day. I will be experimenting with deleting certain apps, only allowing myself windows of time to read the news, and taking news-mental-health days. Stay tuned.
- Monitoring my Mental Health
- All I have for helping out my mental health is going to counseling services, meditating (which I haven’t been doing), exercising (which I have been doing), and then vaguely tracking all of it under my general spreadsheet.
- I now recognize that I should probably find a way to track it in a more kind way–subtracting points from my general spreadsheet is a little backwards (shoutout to counseling for pointing that out to me). Maybe I should journal and use smiley faces to indicate how I’m feeling and frame it in a sense of only room for improvement?
- Optimize my If This Then That (IFFT)
- Will elaborate in February.
- More of:
- Reading, running outside, consistent habits
- Less of:
- Social media and excessive spending.
- Figure out how to format this post better for February and to write this post in a more timely fashion.