As I mentioned in my first blog on my social media experiments, I’ve already started using Twitter and Forest as an accountability system for myself.
First, the 140 character limit forces me to be clear and concise when setting goals; this limit also helps to keep me from overpromising what I’m going to accomplish in my 3-4 hours of dedicated writing time every afternoon. Second, I’ve spent a good amount of time cultivating my Twitter account to be in conversation with other scholars in my field. I’ve seen other scholars (specifically Catherine Sloan) use Twitter in a similar informal goal setting fashion. Third, I liked the idea of a public but semi-anonymous accountability system.By putting my goals “out there” in the universe, there is a level of observation, as if I were working in a coffee shop. Announcing my goals doesn’t mean I expect or need someone to check up on me but that there is the potential for awareness and observation that keeps me motivated.
The second part of my system is using the Forest app to keep track of the hours I spend intentionally focused on writing. Like many, I find it is often possible to be distracted by social media or other digital programs and have found Forest, an app designed to reward time spent without accessing apps on a smart phone or a series of “blacklist” websites on a web browser (I’ve set mine to include Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Instagram). Each half hour spent working without distraction “grows” a tree in a digital forest (as well as accumulates coins that can be used to buy prettier types of trees or even to plant real trees.) I plan to post the resulting Forest diagram with an update on my progress from the previous day before posting my new goal for each day. Like with Twitter, Forest was an app that I was already using, liked, and found to be motivating, so I am folding it into my summer routine.
Using this system, I hope to build an accountability system for myself. There are other perks to this system (one which I’ll perhaps discuss in a future post), but on the whole, I see this as mostly a useful exercise to help me keep the ball rolling and to build a demonstrable record of how much I accomplish in the next few months.