Reviewing the daily review
I’ve been doing the daily review for over month now. So I want to check how things are going, and evaluate how it is working as a supplement to Shuff. Going through each item I’ve been tracking:
- Learning Chinese with Skritter. It’s useful and reassuring to see my number grow. After tracking for a while, I made a projection to how many new characters I needed to add each day to get to 1500 without a reasonable amount of time. After that, I’ve been pretty consistent about studying each day.
- Stepmania. I started tracking this about two weeks ago. I try to play the same song every day and track the change of “Flawless”-rated arrows. In contrast to Chinese, where my numbers increase just by showing up, I’ve had no noticeable progress. I’m not sure if that’s a property of myself or of the assessment — I’ll keep showing up for now and see how it goes.
- Eating healthy. After reading Perfect Health Diet, I stopped trying to eat as much protein and realized a need to increase other macronutrients and think about micronutrients as well. I gave calorie tracking a shot, but I don’t think it’s worthwhile — the unknown about food from restaurants is too high, so I’ll just try to minimize those using the “happy meal” tracking. With the 80/20 principle, I should be getting about 16 good meals per week. Surprisingly, I have achieved that a couple of the weeks, but still need to plan my meals better.
- Getting crap done. As suggested, I made a push to get my to-do list from a peak of 10 down to a low of 2, but now it’s gotten up to around 5 and stayed there. On the other hand, I think the inbox tracking has helped me keep that mostly low. One thing this suggests is to make the to-do list items easier to do, which should’ve been true from the start. For example, instead of “cancel bank account” (which I can’t bring myself to do thanks to the horrors of customer support), I could change it to something as simple as “write down number for Chase bank.”
- Cleaning tasks. I previously said I was taking the “smaller step” of “recording whether I’ve done at least one “clean up” Shuff task that day.” In fact, think it’s a perfectly fine step. My house stays in pretty good shape doing just one or two during the week plus a bigger cleaning on Sunday.
- Being a good researcher. I changed this from three items down to two: accomplishment and something random. Even two can be hard to come up with in a day, but it’s nice to have an accomplishment listed for every day (even though many of them are not research-related).
- Going offline. Like this one. I realized how poorly I was doing one week and worked to fix it.
- I also added location to keep track of how often I’m at school and the coffeeshop or when I’ve gone out to special events (rarely…), and a task to keep track of whether I did stretches.
Back to Shuff
A few of these are already tracked (whether I’ve cleaned) or trackable (whether I’ve cooked) by Shuff. Even then, they get lost in the noise. Some I really want to have the output number, such as number of Chinese characters learned, so that would have to be added to Shuff if I really want to takes things back there. It’d be fun to make a complete visual dashboard for all this kind of stuff together, but the more specialized I make Shuff the less likely anyone else will want to use it. Maybe.
Another thing I realized was that perhaps the Shuff philosophy of randomly interleaving small tasks is flawed. I noticed it’s really nice to have the dishes done and the inbox empty before I get down to work. Not always possible though.
Twenty questions with Evernote
I aligned Evernote to fit the idea of the research/personal questions. In the first week of Cognitive Perspectives to HCI, we talked about whether filesystems should be organized more organically — i.e. more associative. I think organization can also serve to help form a better mental structure. While I wouldn’t advocate eliminating the many natural associations we create, it’s probably also good to reinforce a structure that can be browsed or communicated coherently.
So basically, I have stacks which represent the different research questions. Within them I have notebooks that represent clusters of evidence to may provide a partial answer. For example, I have the question “How do we motivate people to pursue mastery-based learning?” with an evidence cluster “Use reflective assessment” that collects a few papers on the subject.
As I mentioned last time, it’d be good to incorporate with the rest of my tracking. Tracking the amount of stuff in each category might not be hard and would be cool to see. I think refining and revisiting are equally important.
Daniel Willingham gave a great, entertaining talk on Friday. One point that he made are that education researchers have three ways to contribute to education: what must be done, how it could be done, and rigorous program-A vs. program-B results. The musts seem to generally come from basic psychology research. His example here is the need for factual knowledge to improve reading ability — it’s just how the brain works. How it could be done is more open but can be more applicable by teachers. Within learning technology, it’s not clear to me whether that should be providing example applications and evaluating them or producing design patterns or what.Anyway, it’s another thing to think about for categorizing my notes within the Evernote system.