Pace Yourself with Technology

Scene from a marathonBreaking a large task into smaller tasks is a tried and tested method for making something seem more manageable.  However, you still have to actually complete the smaller tasks as some point.  Recently I found two online services that try to help you pace yourself through these smaller blocks of activity – while being at opposite ends of the literary spectrum.

Daily Lit (http://dailylit.com/)

Daily Lit lets you choose a book, and then have small portions of it sent to you, for example by email.  You can choose how much, and how frequently the passages are sent.  You could choose to be sent a page a day, or a chapter each week on Sunday mornings.

You could of course just carry and eReader (or an actual book), and read when you have spare time; but one use of the website is to enforce a schedule on yourself.

National Novel Writing Month (http://www.nanowrimo.org/)

As well as being Movember, November is also National Novel Writing Month (although it has since become international).  On the 1st of November you and over a quarter of a million other people can start writing, with the hope that you’ll have a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month.

NaNoWriMo takes a different approach to DailyLit.  Rather than demanding a certain number of words each day, it just tracks how much you have written.  It then exposes your progress to the wider community – hoping to foster some camaraderie.

If you look at the profile for the Municipal Liason for Derbyshire: chickenchargrill, you can see some other gamification features – such as badges for previous entries and successes.

Conclusions

Finding some way to pace yourself or others is nothing new – from word-a-day calendars, to weekly suggested readings after lectures – but technology can really help to strengthen that structure.  Whether it’s automatically breaking it down and feeding it to you, or building a social experience around it.  The examples are nicely self-contained sites, but the general tools are readily available in other forms.

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