I've been struggling with my productivity lately. When you build a website around a central tenant of being more productive this qualifies as A Very Bad Thing. I could go through the list of the list of excuses, but that's exactly what they are. Time to man up, admit that I wasn't living up to the expectations I set for myself, and be better...
It's easy enough to type that. Living it is a horse of a different color. What I need is a way to stay motivated and accountable. The first thought that came to my mind is that I should take a commitment contract out against myself. This would help ensure that I stick to my plan. I was in the process of doing just that when I realized that would have to quantify my productivity. (Remember "Measurable" from our SMART Goals).
Fortunately, I happen to have a handy tool to quantify my productivity. I can simply refer to my prioritized to-do list. Each day, I will keep track how many points I've completed in a spreadsheet. I could even run some statistics on the data and create some graphs. The possibilities are endless.
Rate My Life
All problems are solved, right? Well not exactly. As we all known life intervenes with work sometimes. Earlier this week, I had to take time off to do my taxes. On my conventional business to-do list, this would have scored low. On my, "I like to stay out of jail" to-do list, it ranked high. There are a lot of items like this. Walking my dog comes to mind immediately. Then there are the times where I take some extra time make a healthy meal. This lowers my productivity, but it is also a worthwhile trade off. The last thing that I want to do is to become a slave to my productivity charts and graphs.
I needed to do a little tweak. I created a spreadsheet for several areas that I want to be better in. Here's a representation of that spreadsheet:
|Category||Max Score||Today's Rating||Today's Score||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||31||Total||Average|
|Family / Fun||10||8||8|
The categories were ones that were just off the top of my head - most of them pulled from the goals of this site: Money, Health, Productivity, Social good, and Family / Fun. The idea here is to rate myself each day on this criteria. If I eat tons of fast food and don't exercise, I'm going to get a low health score. If go crazy and buy a bunch of tablet computers for every room in the house, I'm going to get a low score in the money category (and perhaps an increased score in the likelihood of getting divorced column that isn't present here). I don't think I need to explain each category... I trust you get the picture.
You may wonder why I have a Max Score, Today's Rating and Today's Score column. As I've explained it thus far, I could just put a number from 1 to 10 for each day of the month, and have the same result. Did you notice above that I said this graph was a representation of my spreadsheet? My actual spreadsheet is a lot more complex. I didn't want to melt your brains.
My Life as a Video Game
My spreadsheet breaks down categories into specific tasks. So walking the dog gets points in both family/fun and health. I have exercise and diet tasks in the health category. If I have the best workout, I can earn 10 points there. If I have an excellent diet, that's another 10 points. I often forget to floss, so I'm giving myself an extra point. What I have now is a Health Category with a Max Score of 21. If I put in above average workout (6) with above average diet (6) and floss (1), I will earn 13 of 21 possible points. When I skip the gym, I likely won't get out of the single digits. Thus my life as a video game is designed to score points. That may sound a bit a crazy, but it's quite sane in a world of where winning is living the Charlie Sheen life.
As long as I keep the system in balance, this seems like a great way to stay motivated throughout the day. Scoring points allows me to set measurable goals. Best of all, I can put a reward system in place. It may take a little negotiation with my wife, but I think I could talk her into agreeing to let me get one tablet computer if score enough points. I've been eying the HP TouchPad coming out this summer, we'll see if I get there.
Photo Credit: Raja Nicholas FletcherThis post involves: