New Year's Resolutions: July Edition

Follow up to “Resolutions Update: June Edition”.

About half a year ago, I outlined some New Years Resolutions, and then did what I thought impossible – used the power of blogging, precommitment, and betting to actually stick to my plans. Following up my last report in June, I present my July update, where I see how I’m doing against my goals, and… more importantly… update my goals based on how things are going so far.

How the New System Worked

Last month, I switched from tracking all of my goals individually to tracking them in a total points system, and then scoring the month as a whole for the points needed. This system offered the ability to fail in one area and make up for it by overworking another area, or fail on one day and make up for it by overworking another day, which has it’s share of pros and cons. Here’s how things broke down.

Points: My system required scoring 10800 points for the month, which averages to 360 points a day. I succeeded at this, accruing 11670 points for the month. The averaging worked nicely, because I had a high of 613 points and a low of 225 points.

Exercise: I exercised 16 out of the 30 days of June, averaging 23 minutes of strenuous exercise per day. I also walked an average of 38 minutes a day. I had a noticeable relapse in running ability after not running for awhile in the beginning of the month, followed by a very noticeable recovery to where I was in ability at the end of May. I also had noticeable gains in strength. Overall, I’m reassured that despite not trying to exercise or walk for particular amounts of time (walking itself varied wildly from between nothing to five hours per day!), they ended up very close to what I had wanted (about 20 minutes of strenuous exercise and 40 minutes of walking).

Diet: I had a few different goals for diet. The first was to consume 2.5L water a day. I fell a bit short, consuming closer to 2L a day. The second was to consume >56g of protein. This went very well, with most days involving >100g of protein. Thirdly, I wanted to eat one fruit and one vegetable a day, which I succeeded at about 70% of the time. Additionally, I still greatly increased the amount of vitamins and minerals I was getting, despite not tracking those officially. Lastly, I wanted to eat less than 2174kcal each day. That went less well – I only succeeded 47% of the time. Overall, I think my system needs to be stricter on diet.

Weight: On 3 June, I weighed 181lbs, down from the 210lbs I started back in January. On the 1 July, I weighed in at 181lbs. Therefore, I maintained my weight. My plan was to lose 4lbs for the month, but making sure to get less than 2100 Calories proved difficult. Additionally, one should note the margin of error in weight.

Productivity: This month, I spent an average of 6 and a half hours a day working on “tasks”, 50 minutes a day “writing”, 7 hours a day with friends and family, and 30 minutes a day researching (previously called “targeted reading”). Note that sometimes these overlap, like working on tasks with a friend. I think this is pretty ideal for a summer month where I’m home specifically to make time for friends and family.

Hygiene: I’m sure you don’t want the actual details on this one, but things are continuing to improve.

Annual Goals: My three goals outside this system and my strategic plan are to (1) write 200 blog essays, (2) add four games to the arcade, and (3) get my driver’s license. Overall, I’ve now written 97/200 essays (49% in 50% of the time), done no more work on the games, and am significantly closer to getting my license.

Tweaking the System

So how am I going to change this system going forward for July?

Reconsidering what counts as a “task”: I decided there was little point to “punish” writing and researching by making them count for less points, so now they will be categorized with tasks and counted for 15 points per half hour.

Adding more hygiene: To further clean myself and my surroundings, I’m adding making my bed, using mouthwash, and shaving to the list of things to do, for +10 points each.

Increasing points for important activities: Exercising will now be worth 25 points (was 20) and can be claimed six days a week instead of five. Showering is now worth 20 points (was 15) and brushing teeth is now worth 20 points (was 10).

Adding keeping up daily logs: It will now be worth 20 points to make sure I update all my logs for the day.

New nutrition goals: I’ve decided that I’ve spent enough time doing meal-by-meal tracking on Cronometer that I’m just going to make my own diet goals. On this system, I’ll get 20 points for drinking 5 cups of water, 20 points for drinking 5 cups of milk, 20 points for eating a protein bar, and -10 points for each bag of chips, sweet, or other clearly unhealthy thing I eat.

New sleeping goals: Over the past month, I’ve tried my hand at biphasic sleep, which is a fancy way to say “sleep less at night and make up for it with a nap”. My current plan is to try sleeping for six hours during the night (usually around 1-7am) and then nap half an hour during the day (usually around 4:30-5pm). To re-enforce this, I’ll give myself 20 points for sleeping 7 hours in a day or less.

New point demand: Earlier, I required 360 points per day from myself, averaged over the month. I had an average of 389, but now there are more points to earn, so my guess is if I put in the same effort under the new system, I can average 444 points a day. To ramp things up a bit, I’m going to demand 460 points a day from myself for the month of July and see how I do.

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Followed up in “New Years Resolutions: August Edition”.