kindling / experiences and experiments

Streaks and chains

I’ve been recording three daily activities in an iOS app called Streaks: reading for 15 minutes, walking 6000 steps (now 7000), and waking at 8 am. When I mark something as done or achieve my step count goal (Streaks tracks that automatically with iOS Health app integration), my streak increases by one. When I miss something, the counter resets. This reminds me of Jerry Seinfeld’s tip on productivity: “Don’t break the chain.

Screenshot of Streaks iOS app showing frequency of activities done in January 2016 Screenshot of Streaks iOS app showing frequency of activities done in February 2016

Activity            | Jan Completion | Feb Completion
--------------------|----------------|----------------
Read for 15 minutes | 7/23 (30.4%) | 19/29 (65.5%)
--------------------|----------------|----------------
Walk >6000 steps | 25/31 (80.6%) | 23/29 (79.3%)
--------------------|----------------|----------------
Wake at 8 | 1/8 (12.5%) | 12/29 (41.4%)

I’m glad I’ve increased my activity completion rate, and I’m trying for long, unbroken chains.

Most days, I don’t manage to accomplish all three tasks. I want to say that’s fine, but the line between cutting myself too much slack and being kind to myself is thin. How do people balance being disciplined against not being a hard-ass? I suppose I can cut myself slack for non-critical matters, but then, what makes one critical but not the other? It’s too easy to justify laziness. For now, I do the best I can, and try not to get too upset with myself when I fall short. Some day, that’s not going to be enough.

This post has been edited for coherence.