Yearly Theme Update & How I’m using Streaks to Stay on Track

If hindsight is 2020, maybe 2020 wasn’t the best year to pick health as my yearly theme. Nevertheless, here we are.

I’m nearing my 4th month of working from home due to the pandemic, and the biggest lesson I’ve learned during those 4 months is just how easy it is to slip out of a routine.

Skipping things I didn’t pay much attention to, like my afternoon walk, now suddenly have an incredible power to spiral my default behavior right back to sitting on the couch if I’m not careful. At the same time, I’m also being mindful that it’s okay that I’m not performing at the levels I normally would. These, after all, are not normal times, and giving myself a break is necessary at times.

With that being said, my intention for this year was and still is to focus on my health. I’ve just had to readjust my expectations to effectively fight the gravitational pull towards my couch. For that, I’ve been taking a page out of the ideas in James Clear’s Atomic Habits and BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits and accepting that doing something regularly, even if it’s small, is better than doing nothing at all.

I’ve been using a combination of Apple’s Activity app and Streaks to set my goals. Using the Activity app’s trends tab, I set my goal to be only slightly above my average. If the app says I’m getting about 9 minutes of exercise a day, I’ll set my goal to 10.

Right now I have goals set in Streaks for “Move” calories, walking distance, stand hours, exercise, sleep, and meditation. Streaks syncs with Apple Health as well so the actual effort of tracking my goals is minimal, and because the goals themselves are only slightly more than what I usually do in a day, I’ve actually been meeting the goals almost every day. In fact, most days, I exceed them. Contrast this to a few weeks ago, when the idea of meeting any of them let alone all of them seemed out of reach – this is a win in my book.

Because I’m going off of the average trend, the goals feel achievable even on my worst days. More importantly, as the trend goes up, I’ve been incrementally increasing the goals (albeit slowly), which much to my surprise hasn’t felt as onerous as it had in the past.

Maybe, by the end of the year, I’ll be back up to where I’d hope to be, but for now, making progress a little at a time feels good. And feeling good is something we could all use a little more of right now.

What’s on my home screen? (2017 Edition)

I try to post an update on my home screen at least once a year, but admittedly it has remained fairly stable… at least up until now. This year, I actually have a few new apps to show you! So without further adieu, here’s my home screen for 2017.

The top row still serves as a gauge for my day, but this time around all of the apps are new. I’ve switched back to the stock calendar app (read more about why here). Carrot Weather has replaced Dark Sky, due to it’s superb Apple Watch complication. My Ulla obnoxiously blinking at me is still my biggest motivator to stay hydrated throughout the day, but because it lacks any sort of tracking capability, I use Waterminder to track what I’m drinking throughout the day. I like it because it includes other types of fluids (even soup). Streaks is in the last spot, and I use it to keep track of well… streaks… It’s nice to keep tabs on various habits I’m working on (mindfulness, daily exercise, steps taken, hydration, etc) over time. Streaks and Waterminder are both rare apps that are deemed important enough to break my no notification badges rule.

The next row is my row of folders which serves as a nice visual barrier on the screen. Following a tip from CGP Grey to relocate any lesser used apps to the second page of a folder, I keep only the essentials here and rely on search for getting to the others.

The third row, my Media row, has remained relatively unchanged over the years. These apps seem to be here to stay.

The last two rows are a collection of miscellaneous utilities and things I like to incorporate into my life. 1Password and Waze always get a spot on the home screen. Notes is primarily used for quick access to carry out menus. Given that I still haven’t officially started classes yet, I’m still working my way through some TV shows so Television Time is being used fairly heavily at the moment. To balance it out and serve as a reminder to meditate, I also have Meditation Studio on my homescreen.

My home row, like my media row, hasn’t changed at all. Messages, Airmail, Safari, and Omnifocus are definitely her to stay as well.

Stay tuned for an iPad Pro version coming soon.