A “Hackable Me” post is a few words on incremental personal self-improvement: a personal hack to better myself. I’m actually very skeptical when it comes to the kind of DIY, fixer-upper, read-this-book-to-change-your-life sort of self-improvement one normally thinks about. On the other hand I tend to consider that (a) publicly scrutinized goals and (b) introspective evaluation of those goals through words tends to lead to making me a better person. This is just a thing to do with that.
For those who are only casually following along, I built a simple little web application that let’s me:
(a) track the things I do in my day-to-day life that make me a stronger, healthier, and more balanced human being (which I’d already been doing for a long time, but in a spreadsheet. I know, you can say it… NEEEEEEEEEEERD!) and;
(b) generate a little bit of analytical analysis of the same in the form of a graph that I can display on the sidebar of this blog.
The idea being that (i) tracking leads to awareness and (ii) sharing leads to accountability. All of that leads to meaningful results. It works for me. It seems to. But whatever. And I like to play around with web code anyhow, so call it a hobby.
Since I launched this thing about twenty days ago, I’ve been noting some minor things that required some tweaking, so –as I wrote above– I spent some time on Monday evening adding some of my new “wish-listed” features.1) Negative Points (FAILS) – I’ve always tracked this sort of thing, but I hadn’t incorporated it into the original version 1.0 design. Over the last twenty days (oddly enough) it’s easy to realize how removing one minor component of a system can throw the whole thing off. Negative points are an incentive for good behaviour, particularly because in my little system the bad things make it very easy to losing points and very difficult to get them back. Oh, and as a result I tweaked some of the point values for the HACKS (they are lower and more difficult to obtain.) FAIL examples: miss a scheduled run, eat a late-night snack, or just have a lazy (unHACKed) day.
2) Daily Caps (LIMITS) – Somewhat arbitrary, but also somewhat common sense, I’ve included a little check in the code to make sure I can’t –not that I would, cheat and– add a great big number of easy-to-do things just to give myself points. I mean, I’m probably the only one who actually cares, but it’s funny the little tricks you’ll play on your brain to get that endorphin flowing. So, per-day caps: some are set to one, some are set as high as eight… it depends. But it’s like hard-coded common sense. Also, my memory needs all the help it can get, so it helps reduce double accounting, especially on the big-ticket items.
3) Graph Tweaks – As a result of all these changes to the guts of the functionality, I needed to change how some of the data displayed in the graph and how the interface worked, of course (pictured.) Note the addition of the two extra (smaller font) number values (denoting the HACKS (in white) and the FAILS(in red)) and the incorporation of the data-bar below the x-axis. To read that graph, for example: on Sunday (062) I went for a big run (blue) and did a few minor other things, but ate like crap (so I lost a bunch of points. I had a overall day of 3 points. On Monday, I behaved, ate a decent lunch, did a bunch of other positive things, and didn’t do anything to lose any points (really) so my day was at a strong 22 points.
Hopefully, I’ll also be able to do some more (written) analysis of this as the weeks roll on. (if you care… if not, then just tune out.)
I’m sure I’ll need to tweak it a bit more as more data rolls in and I notice little bugs in the display or the functionality. Also, I have a few more features I’d like to add. But for now, keep following along and keep me motivated!