One of my favourite apps at the moment is Lift.

At its core, Lift is a tool to help you track and develop positive habits over time. You add habits to your profile (e.g. “Floss” or “Write 250 Words”), and each day you “check in” to those habits once you have performed them. The app/platform has a bunch of helpful features such as reminders and social support (i.e. people who track the same habits as you can give you “props” whenever you check in).

Thanks to Lift, I’ve taken up meditation as a daily practice, writing a daily gratitude journal, training my brain to make it sharper, and flossing on a daily basis (which I really should have taken up a long, long time ago).

Checking in to my habits on a daily basis, creating “streaks”, makes me feel great. However, breaking a streak sucks.

I don’t know why it is, but I’ve never been good at getting going again once I lose my momentum. Too often, I’ll break a streak and say to myself “oh well, I’ll just start back up next Monday”. By the time that Monday rolls around, I’ve lost my motivation and getting back up on the horse seems impossible. This is true for big things (e.g. a training plan) as well as little things (e.g. flossing).

Well, here’s the next big habit that I want to develop: Grit. To me, grit means doing the work that needs to be done without giving into excuses. It means sticking to the goals you’ve set for yourself. Basically, it means getting shit done.

This habit will have to be a little different than the rest, because it will require some planning each day. I’m going to have to start each day with a clear objective [1]and making sure I’ve reached that objective by the time my head hits my pillow at night. No matter what else I do that day, no matter how much I accomplish, I cannot check into my “Grit” habit on Lift until I’ve reached that objective.

There might be days where I fail, and I’ll have to accept the fact that that happens. But I can’t let it happen too many days in a row. That’s not showing grit, and that’s not how you develop a habit (unless your habit involves quitting on yourself).

Let’s see how this goes!

  1. This could be a task I have been avoiding or a project I haven’t finished yet.  ↩

Shiny and New

Lately, I have been spending way too much time on Product Hunt.

I think it’s pretty common among people who claim to be enthusiastic about today’s tech industry to also be obsessed with things that are bright, shiny, and new. Apps, wearables, phones, tablets, phablets [1]… we all want to be on the cutting edge, to be “early adopters”.

Take Things for instance:

Since having spent way to much money on Cultured Code’s ensemble of productivity apps back when I got my orginal iPhone, I’ve tried to be a dedicated Things user. At the time, was becoming something and I was trying to become as productive as possible. I read David Allen’s “Getting Things Done”, subscribed to Merlin Mann’s “43 Folders”, and decided I wanted to live the GTD lifestyle. At the time, Things was one of the top productivity apps in the App Store so I figured I’d give it a go.

Here’s what you should know about Things’ creator Cultured Code: they consitently make a well-designed app. Here’s what you should also know about Cultured Code: they consistently take forever to release new versions of their app (e.g. Things for iPhone just got some UX tweaks for iOS 8… which hadn’t happened since iOS 6. That’s like a billion years in tech talk.)

Now here’s what you should know about me: I don’t use Things as religiously as I like to think I’d like to because I’m constantly waiting for the latest version of the app (“Things 3”) to be released. However, the truth is that the current versions of Things’ Mac, iPhone, and iPad apps have really everything I could possibly need to be a hardcore GTDist [2]. I’m just being picky because I want something new that will make me feel more excited about work I don’t feel like doing [3].

The reality here is that I don’t need something new, I just need a better motivation system.

  1. What a disgusting word. Let’s please not allow that to become a thing.  ↩

  2. Yes, I am a dork. Why do you ask?  ↩

  3. That initialy GTD mind dump is intimidating. It’s scary to realize how much stuff is going on up there at once (meditation has been helping though) and it’s annoying to have to write it all down.  ↩

Being OK With Crap

So here we go with day two of my “250 Words Every Day” challenge.

For today’s topic, let’s talk about producing crap content.

One of the main reasons I have such a hard time getting content out is because I’m obsessed with details when it comes to the way things look. An image unaligned by a pixel, a font that doesn’t quite work with the text, or a color scheme that is slightly off… all that drives me crazy.

Like, actually crazy.

I don’t know why it is, all I know is that it happens. I’ll spend hours getting the animations right in a keynote/video that last less than a second. I’ll spend 5 hours on trying to find something that works with the copy I’m dealing with. I’ll watch 45 YouTube tutorials on Sketch to figure out how to do something nobody will even notice. The thing is, I’m not doing this for others… I’m doing it for me. If I publish something that is off, it bugs me until I can figure out how to make it right. If I can’t figure that out, I’ll just discredit the work as crap work and pretend I never made it.

It’s a problem.

That being said, one of the reasons I’ve taken on this challenge is to learn how to be ok with producing content that doesn’t always meet my crazy standards (which I even think are crap compared to where I want them to be). I’m trying to teach myself that the important thing is to get the content out there where it can help people.

By forcing myself to produce content on a daily basis, even on the days where I really don’t feel like it, I’m hoping I can get there.

Time will tell[1].

[1]: I am hopeful though!

Real Artists Ship

On August 13th 2014, I started my new teaching job at St. George’s School of Montreal.

So far, my experience at St. George’s School has been incredible. For the first time in a long time, I’ve felt like a total rookie at everything and have had to learn a lot. Starting a new job is a great time to reinvent yourself and to breath new life into your career, and that is exactly what I have tried to do.

That being said, the process of rebuilding oneself from the ground up is an exhausting one and I have found myself with little energy left over for my other passions (namely, the work I do at I haven’t been active on Twitter (or really any social networks), I haven’t written blog posts for the site, and I haven’t created any new resources in what feels like a long, long time.

Part of the reason for this has been my lack of energy by the end of the day (when I used to do my best work for the site), but also because I’ve grown out of the habit of creating content on a regular basis. I’ve been working on the energy problem through meditation, good nutrition, and additional exercise. Now it’s time to rebuild my habit of producing content on a regular basis. Here’s how I’m planning on doing it:

I’m going to challenge myself to write at least 250 words a day. It doesn’t sound like much, but I’ve found that it’s just the right amount to get me going. I’ll be tracking my progress using Lift, which is what I use to track the other habits I’m trying to develop. To prevent me from getting distracted, I’ll be writing with Byword (which I love… and I’m starting to get the hang of Markdown editing). I’m also thinking of picking up a slick keyboard for my iPad for ultra-distraction-free writing (lately, I feel like I have the attention span of a gnat).

Sometimes this writing will have to do with physical education, other times it won’t. The important thing is that I create something a share it with the world on a regular basis. Steve Jobs once famously said that “real artists ship”. It’s time to start shipping.

Love this kind of product. Although I love the idea of keeping track of the foods I eat, I still haven’t found an app/tool that makes it really easy to do so. I think something like this is a step in the right direction, although I would love to see the Countertop app app some voice controls (e.g. you could just say what you’re adding to the Prep Pad rather than typing it in). The dream is obviously just to take a picture of what you’re eating and the app automatically recognizes the food and adds the nutritional value to your account… but I think we’re still a far way away from that (but maybe not too far away).