There it goes: I’m a streak monger! I crave doing long-term, large number streaks.
There’re for sure people like me. People who’re even bigger streak mongers than me. In any case, I see myself as quite addicted to creating and maintaining long-term, daily habits.
The idea for this note came today after I actually broke one of my (not so long) streaks: my Amazon Reader continuous daily reading streak.
I usually do my best to maintain my streaks, but yesterday was quite a busy day, and somehow I lost the time, forgot to read, and lost my 180+ days of reading. Damn it. Nevertheless, life goes on. I hope more than 180 days remaining, so I’ll maybe get an even better streak in a bit more than six months.
With this article, I want to do two (well, three) things:
- To complain about me losing my nice Reader streak. (Check)
- To brag a bit about the length of my current streaks.
- To tell you how I manage to keep them going.
As I already confessed: I’m a streak monger. I had a w(h)orse word in mind but decided to settle with ‘monger.’ I’m sometimes doing mad things to maintain my other two remaining streaks: my 653-day long Elevate training streak, and my 583-day long 750words streak.
For the ones, who never heard of any of those, here’s some more info.
Elevate is a brain-training app, which helps me improve my math, memory, English writing and reading skills, etc. This referral link will give you a week free of charge. Then you need to subscribe. I have had my subscription for more than three years (if not four), and I’m quite satisfied with the results.
To keep my streak there, I need to train daily. For the past 653 days, I never missed a day.
750words, a (paid) service, pushes you to write at least 750 words per day. Every day. It trains your writing skills. It also trains your willpower (to write daily, no matter what) and creativity (to find new daily subjects to do the writing). I keep the service mostly as my private journal, but I often write my blog posts first there (this one will also go there).
In 750words, I have a 583-day long streak. And I hope to keep that one going.
There’re many things to consider to maintain these two streaks.
The first thing is, well, to actually do your commitment daily. With Elevate is relatively easy: it requires 10-20 minutes to do the training, and that’s it. For 750words, it’s much harder, as writing needs time. And focus. Yes, you could easily (and completely) hack the system, but then you will be lying primarily to yourself, not anyone else. So I try to be diligent and truly do it.
However, I admit that for 750words, I do have one handy hack, which I used twice (or three times) for the past 583 days. E.g., I would break my streak if I didn’t use the hack.
The hack is simple. Once you start practicing your writing, it happens so that you often write more than one subject per day. Or you figure out writing subjects, and then you do them accordingly. I have prepared three materials in my arsenal, which reside in the “750 ready” folder. E.g., in case I screw up badly, I use these texts for the day.
I know; this looks a lot like lying to myself. But I want my streak, and I find this acceptable. Of course, once I use a pre-ready text, I sit on my butt and write twice the words in the coming days. Usually, it’s more than twice because I pick up a subject that is interesting and goes longer than 750 words. But the idea is to restore the reserve for another rainy day.
Maintaining streaks in online systems (like the two above) also requires online connectivity. One of the hardest logistics things (to date), especially if I’m traveling. To keep both these streaks, you can’t be offline. 750words service has the “schedule vacation time off” feature, and I think I used it once. But not for this streak: for this one, I registered all my words regularly. As for Elevate, I think they support offline work, as far as the device (my iPad) is with me. And at the moment I’m online, it pushes my streak data into their servers, updating it correctly.
The key to keeping these streaks is to schedule a reminder about both. This saved me countless times. In such a case, the only habit one should develop is to track down the “Reminders’ log” and ensure it is empty at the end of the day. And if it’s not empty yet, to take care of the daily tasks. My Elevate task pings back with a reminder at 18:00 daily. My 750words task pings back with a reminder at 19:30. If I see the reminder, I usually take care to do the task immediately.
This is a brief overview of how I sustain my streaks. It’s not pretty that I lost my 6+ months log Reading streak, but it happens. The most important thing is to kick back once you sustain such a loss. I remember my 750 words’ streak of 380 days. It was excruciating to break this one. And stupid. But it happens. You break it, and you know that you need more than one year of steady schedule keeping to recover from the break. But it’s great willpower training, too.
That’s actually it! Happy streaking!