Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Quick Tips: Using the Widget

The Meditation Helper widget is my implementation of Jerry Seinfeld's productivity secret:

Years ago when Seinfeld was a new television show, Jerry Seinfeld was still a touring comic. At the time, I was hanging around clubs doing open mic nights and trying to learn the ropes. One night I was in the club where Seinfeld was working, and before he went on stage, I saw my chance. I had to ask Seinfeld if he had any tips for a young comic. What he told me was something that would benefit me a lifetime...
He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day. But his advice was better than that. He had a gem of a leverage technique he used on himself and you can use it to motivate yourself—even when you don't feel like it.
He revealed a unique calendar system he uses to pressure himself to write. Here's how it works.
He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.
He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. "After a few days you'll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You'll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain."
"Don't break the chain," he said again for emphasis.
The widget displays the chain of days where you have hit your meditation target.

 This is a copy of the widget from my current home screen. The top number shows the current chain, and the bottom number shows the highest chain that I have completed so far. So what this shows is that I am currently on a run of 59 days, and that is my longest run to date. The bar on the right represents the time I have meditated today, as a proportion of my daily target. I know by glancing at this that I have meditated for 50% of my target today, and if I don't do the other 50% before midnight, I will break the chain.

The daily target is set via the settings menu. From the main timer screen, hit the menu button and select 'Settings' (see the screenshot to the right). That brings up the Settings page, which has the option to set the "Target Daily Time".

Currently my "Target Daily time is set to 60 minutes. So the widget is telling me that I have meditated for at least 60 minutes for the last 59 days, and so far I have meditated for 30 minutes today.

You can hopefully begin to see why this is useful. Having this kind of reminder on the home screen of your phone can serve as a powerful motivational tool. Before I had this, I tried to meditate for 1 hour every day, and managed to do so for maybe 8 or 9 days. But then something would happen that would make it easy for me to make an excuse not to meditate. Although I might regret not having meditated for a while, I would soon forget about it. There were no real consequences to skipping meditation.

That is not the case with the widget. Now, if I skip meditation, I will break the chain and will need to start again from zero. And I really don't want to do that! I want to push on to the 100!

I really really really do not want to break that chain. Here is where my competitive nature kicks in to act as motivation. I just do not want to see this on my home screen!

As an example, for the last couple of days I have had a really heavy cold. Previously I would have used this as an excuse not to meditate. But now I don't want to break the chain, and so I sat down to meditate even despite the cold.

So that's the widget. I hope you find it as useful as I do.

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