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Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to the result. – Bob Proctor

The-Lifestream-ExperimentLet me preface by saying that I’m no stranger to time management – for years now I’ve been using time-tracking apps in order to maximise my productivity. But recently I’ve taken this to a whole new level by combining time-tracking directly with habit change.

I’ll explain: technology has now brought us the status update. Anywhere in the world you can get an internet connection you can tell the world what you’re doing.

But instead of taking a selfie for Instagram I’ll be using this technology for something more useful – a 24/7 status update.

I’ll be experimenting with streaming what I’m doing 24/7 to see how it affects productivity, happiness and every other aspect of my life. 

In doing so I hope to utilise one of the strongest motivators for habit change – accountability. By having others able to see what you’re doing on a permanent basis, it can be a powerful motivator for sticking to your goals.

This Lifestream also uses another golden rule of habit change – immediate feedback.  Whilst monthly reviews are brilliant for insight, the problem is that they’re monthly.

This means that you can go about for a whole month doing all sorts of detrimental actions to your goals (e.g. drinking fizzy drinks) without any sort of negative feedback until you look back on your lack of progress a whole month later (delayed feedback).

If on the other hand we had immediate feedback (e.g. an electric shock every time we picked up a fizzy drink) then we’d learn the behaviour-consequence link much quicker. I won’t be using an electric shock but I’ll instead be leveraging instant accountability by having an overview of my daily activities available online to anyone at any time.

Not saying that I expect people to be tweeting me whenever I’m procrastinating (or even that I’d want that), but I think that even in just knowing that my actions are potentially being watched should aid my willpower.

At least – that’s the idea. Like all habit experiments it might have no effect at all, so this is why it’s being tested out. I’ll report back on the findings after a good period of testing.

Here’s my Lifestream below:

I’ve grouped my daily activities into four overarching categories with up to five activities for each category.

Scroll your mouse over the image below for explanations of each activity

Category: 'Action' refers to all activities which require me to proactively do something physically
Category: 'Analysis' refers to all activities which predominantly involve creative thinking
Activity: 'Learning' is time spent researching ideas and consuming new information (however this only counts for goal-directed learning - 'infotainment' is instead classed as Downtime: Leisure)
Category: 'Social' refers to all activities which revolve around my social relationships
Category: 'Downtime' refers to all activities which are predominantly rest and recuperation
Activity: 'Process' is time spent clearing my inboxes of new ideas and tasks with lots of decision-making. This involves creative problem-solving with new and unique choices, thus is often spontaneous with unpredictable outcomes
Activity: 'Review' is time spent managing systems and reviewing progress. It is also involves lots of problem-solving but in the context of current data - based on information from current habits, goals etc
Activity: 'Measure' is time spent measuring aspects of my self and lifestyle e.g. cognitive performance, physical attributes etc
Activity: 'Next Action' is time spent on my highest priority tasks (income generation, business growth etc)
Activity: 'Functional' is time spent on regularly scheduled tasks that don't require creativity e.g. cleaning, data entry, etc. Most prime for automation or delegation
Activity: 'Work' is time spent at my job as a behavioural analyst
Activity: 'Exercise' is time spent on exercising - namely strength workouts at the gym, cycling or Krav Maga (martial arts class)
Activity: 'Other Goals' is time spent on all other goals e.g. cold thermogenesis, cognitive enhancement, etc
Activity: 'Meal' is time spent socialising and eating food with family
Activity: 'Meal' is time spent eating food alone
Activity: 'Sleep is time spent in bed (note: not the same as actual sleep duration)
Activity: 'Talk' is time spent interacting digitally e.g. texts, phone calls, email etc
Activity: 'Meet' is time spent socialising with non-family members in-person
Activity: 'Travel' is time spent travelling whilst with at least one person I know
Activity: 'Travel' is time spent travelling whilst alone
Activity: 'Leisure' is time spent relaxing e.g. surfing web, watching movies etc. Some is necessary, but most of this is just procrastination
Activity: 'Other' is time spent taking care of my body e.g. getting dressed, personal hygiene etc

The categories allow me to quickly see my balance of time e.g. if a day has too much blue then I’ve been relaxing too much and not spending enough time socialising, analysing or on action. The currently defined activities and categories are bound to change over time but right now this makes a lot of sense based on how I typically work.

Now that this experiment has begun I’m especially curious to examine the effects of Lifestreaming on my:

  1. Focus and mental endurance
  2. Willpower
  3. Productivity
  4. Efficiency
  5. Happiness

Keep watching the Habitstream page for more updates and the findings as this experiment progresses.

Many thanks to David Achkar for inspiring this experiment and providing me with the background needed to make this habit easy and sustainable.