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Lift

I mentioned in the previous post that this month I'm working to build a new habit by writing 500 words each day. To track the progress for this habit, as well as others I am working on, I am using an app called Lift. Lift has been around for awhile now, but when I looked at it in the past it did not offer an Android version. Using the iPhone version on my iPad was less than an optimal experience, but with the Android app available, it's a great choice for me.

Overview

Lift is designed to make creating, finding and tracking goals or habits simple. You can browse what habits have already been created by other users and see how many participants they have. You can add your own habits if the one you are looking for does not already exist. You can even mark a habit private so that other Lift users cannot see that you are a participant.

Social Features

I'm not using the app for the social features that it offers, however, they seem to be helpful to those that do. From simple positive feedback/reinforcement to the ability to ask questions of other habit participants, Lift gives you the ability to interact with other users to motivate you to succeed. Some goals are even sponsored by experts that then make themselves available for question and answer sessions in the app. I have noticed that this is typically also tied to a chance for the expert to market themselves or their services, but I can understand why they see the opportunity as a good one for both parties.

Design

A big part of what makes me want to use an app is the design and user experience. Many Android apps feel out of place when the iOS version came first. Lift is an exception. The Android app is great and feels like it was developed with the Android platform in mind. The user interface is very clean and minimal, yet informative and clear as to the progress on each goal or habit.

Don't Break the Chain

The value in having an app like Lift is that it gives you a very visual and material way to measure how you are executing on your goals. It adds the achievement of checking a box each day. The idea of not "breaking the chain" is a large component in building any habit. You don't want to kill the streak, and having an app that shows you that really does seem to have a motivating effect.

500WED

Update: I failed. I literally only met the goal 2 or 3 days out of the 30. I would say I feel defeated, but it has been a busy time in many respects. I'll think about a more reasonable goal at a more reasonable time.

The Challenge

For the month of September, I have decided to take on a challenge. The goal of the challenge is to build a more consistent writing habit. Daily success is measured by 500 words written. I've wanted to build a better writing habit for years. Posting more content here has always been a big motivation, but obviously not enough to push me to write more regularly. My hope is that by doing something every day for 30 days, I will form the habit.

Potential Risks

  • I'll have no desire to write after a few days
  • I won't have anything worth writing about after a few days
  • The structure will make my writing more robotic
  • I won't be writing because I enjoy it

Potential Rewards

  • After this month, content will be posted to the site regularly like magic
  • I will form good writing habits
  • My writing will continually improve throughout the month
  • Site readership will increase due to more regular posts

Tools

Most of my writing will likely take place on my phone or my iPad. I would love to sit here, lie and say that I will set aside time to sit in front of my iMac and crank out post after amazing post like Stephen J. Cannell at the end of an episode of Hunter. While the desktop computer in my makeshift home office is great, it isn't where most of these words will be created. This post is being written on my iPad. This is actually the second time I have written this post. I wrote it to the tune of 542 words last night and then proceeded to accidentally delete it with a poor default action step in the Drafts app.

I want this exercise to also filter my toolset. I want my writing workflow to improve along the way. I want to know what apps aid my writing and which ones should be deleted because they add nothing to the process. I want to find the groove in the technology I have at my disposal so that future efforts aren't over complicated by the plethora of cool apps or devices I have built up around me. I can see why an app that is available on all the platforms I use that also syncs the data from one instance to the next would be an obvious choice. I can also appreciate using the best of the best apps on each platform and letting sync be carried out by Dropbox or some other external syncing or file storage service. Needless to say, I'll keep readers informed along the journey.

Disclaimers

I should clarify that the goal is to write 500 words each day. It is not to post to this site daily. It is also not to make sure all posts during the challenge are a minimum of 500 words. Some of the words I count towards my daily goal will never see the light of day on any website. Some will be components of larger efforts. What I have decided is that only words created outside of my day-to-day "real job" will be included towards the goal. I have never counted how many words a day I generate answering and creating emails, writing code or having conversations through instant message/IRC. Counting those towards this effort would simply be pointless. It wouldn't develop any new or good habits.

Go

Consider the starter pistol trigger pulled. This is day two and I'm happier with this version of the post than the one I wrote and accidentally deleted yesterday. Seems like progress to me.

Reading Literature on Screen: A Price for Convenience?

I've often been curious if reading on screen was as valuable as reading a physical page.  I'll be interested in future studies, but I know I read more with my phone and iPad than I would without them. 

She said more research is needed to understand what’s lost by reading literature on screen. She added that the type of text, the device used, and the background experience of the reader could all influence the outcome

Why you shouldn't drive slowly in the left lane

As someone who commutes to work using some of Florida's most glorious interstate highways, please share this link with anyone you know that drives slow in the left lane.

If they give you the the following justtification... slash their tires.

Now, some people counter that as long as they're going the speed limit, they don't have to move over — and by slowing down would-be speeders, they're making the roads safer.