I connected with a very cool reader named Patrick. I wrote up, "On Getting More Done – Top-down, or bottom up?" and "Want to read more? Okay, here’s a few ways to do so" upon question/request from him, and we've had a nice correspondence.
He just sent me this really smart email, and graciously allowed me to share it with you -
Thanks again for the terrific emails you took the time to write last time on the topic of reading more. And great stuff on the blog lately, keep that up.
I've recently come across some pretty interesting stuff in the motivation field, I guess you could say. So I thought I might share my discoveries in case it might grant you some more insight on the topic.
It started with a TED-video I saw. I'm sure you're already familiar with TED, in other case it's definitely worth checking out. The video I saw was Tom Chatfield talking about how video/computer games reward the brain. Gaming is pretty fascinating imo, how it can motivate such a large number of people to so much, who in other parts of life are maybe not as productive. I have a couple of friends and a brother as anecdotal evidence to support this :) Mr Chatfield talks about how gaming motivates people to put a lot of effort (and money) into something virtual and how this possibly could be applied on education. I found the video interesting, and recommend it if you would find this kind of stuff interesting. Here is the url: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/tom_chatfield_7_ways_games_reward_the_brain.html
So, I thought I might keep a look out for things that include a couple (or all) of the ways that gaming motivates, and rewards the brain (this might be an interesting topic for a blog post in the future btw, or at least I would find it interesting, ha). And I found the ReadMore application for iPhone. If you're not familiar with the ReadMore app; it's sort of a "Current targets"-list that you wrote about in the email/blog. Except in ReadMore, you clock your reading time, which gives you some interesting data on what pace you are reading in and so on. I found this motivating partly because of the tracking element (reward system in the brain is lit up by being able to get positive feedback from yourself when you have been a good boy). Also, since you track every session of reading, you get som data on your reading tempo as I said, which at least made me more motivated to read more efficiently (so my stats wouldn't be bad). So I feel like my willingness to read, and my reading efficiency went up thanks to this.
Your thoughts on this?
My thoughts? I think it's really good stuff. I actually studied game design and reward mechanisms a little bit because I thought it would help me build out my tracking better and keep myself engaged and productive. It also seems like an area full of rich data and examples that's been neglected by formal thinkers thus far, which means you can get ahead of the curve by studying/applying it.
Like anything else, you want to be careful that you're optimizing for the right things - you don't want to read too fast at the expense of retention/understanding just to fill up your stat sheet. But I think that's a minor risk - overall, I think the value of the tracking, data, and game mechanics would help read more, encourage, inspire, and educate.
Very smart letter, great stuff Patrick. A pleasure corresponding, and thanks for letting me share this with everyone.
I've talked about time tracking a lot, most recently in "Daily Tracking Template v6."
One thing that's a mixed blessing is I do all my tracking by hand. I write it all down by hand, I add it up by hand, and I calculate out the results weekly by hand.
I do this for two reason - first, it makes my tracking very flexible about mixing notes in with times, changing/updating categories on the fly, and otherwise not locking me into a fixed format. Second, since I'm doing it the long way, it keeps it in the forefront of my mind. Almost always, automatically generated reports/numbers get less attention than going over them slowly by hand.
Additionally, trends about how the days ebb and flow start to emerge by going over them slowly. It only takes a few minutes a day, and I really think it's time well spent.
One downside, though, of doing it by hand - I don't have any nice way to find correlations. No fancy automatic output graphs or visualizations. If I want to see if there's some sort of correlation, I need to come up with a hypothesis on my own and then go dig through past records.
My friend and fellow blogger Cam Chardukian writes in on The Downfall of Video Games:
For example it took almost no effort for me to quit watching television. I've also gone from eating the unhealthiest diet imaginable to literally not having eaten a single desert in 3-4 years and actually finding artificial/processed foods to be disgusting.
Why on the other hand have I been able to make progress in things like socializing or nofap, but ultimately been unable to achieve similar levels of success in them?