Why do you work? (And how you can help others answer that question)
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Visualizing time-wasting and goal progress


Concerned that I was using my phone too much to aimlessly look at crap on the internet, I turned on the Screen Time limiter. And then promptly ignored it every time it told me "you're wasting your time."

Very little of what I want to achieve in my life, either personally or professionally, is connected with looking at my phone. I don't use it to write, design, teach, conduct research, or consult. I use it when exercising to record distances, but that only requires me to look at it when I start and finish.

But this isn't about how much I use my phone, rather why I'm not making as much progress as I want to towards my goals. I realized I wasn't measuring my progress in any way, so I started journaling to monitor what I'd done on any given day, setting goals for the following day.

That went brilliantly - for about a week. Then it became difficult to find the time and motivation to record everything for the day, especially when I hadn't done anything particularly productive. So the journaling stopped rather abruptly, at least in its original form.

I like order and organization, so the ad-hoc style I'd adopted didn't suit me (even though I was the one who decided to do it that way). The result was that it was destined to fail from the start. Not only didn't I keep it up, looking back on it doesn't really tell me much about how much I was getting done and how much time I was simply wasting.

So I changed how I go about it. Instead of keeping it free, I drew boxes for each day representing my goals. Something like this (these are random goals not mine):

  Exercise Study Writing
Monday Gym -20 mins -- --
Tuesday Walking -- --

This makes it really easy to see what I've done and, more importantly, what I haven't done. At the end of the week I write down why I haven't got things done. 

What's the point? It not only let's me see very clearly how much I'm getting done, it also lets me reflect on how important my goals are to me. If they're really my goals, why am I not doing anything towards them?

I haven't been visualizing my goals like this for long, but it's really helping to put things into perspective.


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