Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Habits

No doubt, the world of
Habitaria fears the might
 of a level 4 habit builder
and his magic helmet.
I admit, the primary point of this post is to keep my resolution of one post per month. It seems like an easy goal; until finals. Warning: this post contains a bit of personal junk.

On that note, I find personal productivity (and tracking it) an interesting field. If my RSS reader is a metric of any kind, there are a lot of people interested in it. It makes sense, we're all selfish to some extent and personal productivity is all about ourselves.

Some years ago I read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I'm leery of book titles with numbers and 'ly' words in the title, but it remains the only book I've ever recommended to others. It was the book that made me realize I can learn how successful people do things. I still need to refine it, and practice it, and make it work for me; but I'm not starting from scratch (note: more proof we are living in a cool future).

I don't consider myself a success, but I feel like I'm finally on the right path. Over the years I've used a number of tools to aid me in being a productive or successful person. I think many of us struggle with what works for our tastes.

For me, the task managing tool I use most is the one in gmail (you know that one no one knows about and almost doesn't make sense it's even in there). When I am not at home I can add to it from my email account. When I am at home I use this link to manage the list.

https://mail.google.com/tasks/canvas

I don't recall where I found it, or why it exists, or when Google will take it away (RIP Reader). I like it though. I don't even bother with separate lists, just one big list. For example I'll have stuff like this:

  • COMP3223 - Assignment 3 due
  • COMP3053 - Group Project due
  • Research Group - Setup bitbucket repo
  • Personal - taxes
  • Personal - look into dropbox alternatives
I generally group them by what comes before the hyphen, but I can also sort by due date. Tasks can be edited like one big text document, and you can add notes to a specific task. The only thing simpler would be a text document (which I've been known to use but it not as satisfying to delete tasks as it is to check them off and see the line through them).

A couple of weeks ago I started using habitrpg.com. It also has a task list with satisfying checkboxes, and it's kind of fun. I've particularly enjoyed the daily tasks, I have a bad habit of skipping breakfast. Since I've started using HabitRPG I have yet to miss breakfast. 

Time will tell how well I stick to this one, but so far it is more promising than many of the other tools I've used. It caters to the gamified desire for immediate feedback. Just the other day I was so close to level 3, I did a Project Euler problem (which is one of my regular habits) just to level up.

If this post has a point to make, it is try new stuff. I hear a lot of people say "Have a system and stick to it." I feel that is bad advice. I say stick with what works, but don't let that stop you from checking out everything else.

1 comment:

Jeremy Cavner said...

Do you use google calendar? You can access/use your tasks there, too, and unlike being in your email app, it seems to fit right into your a calendar app.

You can toggle Tasks on/off to be seen on your calendar or not. And you can drag and drop them on different days to reschedule their due dates.