Freedom vs. Commitment

Why sometimes it’s needed to be committed to an external constraint in order to achieve greatness

I’ve just ended a long month of basically not doing anything, and not being committed to anything, but myself. It’s no wonder that I didn’t achieve much in this period of time and didn’t feel I was making any progress, although I wanted to. To be precise, I was mostly focused on immediate goals like having fun, meet friends, rest, but not on long-term goals like learning new things or writing about things I wanted to write about (there’s well-written coding crash-course for designers, just waiting to be written by me). Magically, as soon as I finished my long vacation and started working, my mind switched to FOCUS mode, and I started learning new things, as I was getting payed for this time. Oh wait, I am! So, is that why I was so focused? Because I had a boss and needed to prove myself?

Well, yeah.


Control Freak

Having a documentation of EVERYTHING keeps me in control

The past couple of months were a rollercoaster of feelings for me. I’ve had my awesome weeks of full control and self satisfaction — I designed awesome things, learned a lot of stuff and went to the gym a lot. But, there were also periods of disappointment and low self confidence — I didn’t enjoy my job, I felt stuck, and the only thing I wanted to do was get in my bed and play video games for ever and ever. This feeling is connected to many things in my life — work, money, fitness, etc.

It appeared to me that the key for being satisfied, for me, is Control.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away

I switched to iOS lately and played with Health app — an app that learns almost every aspect of your health and habits — activities, eating habits and much more, depending on what permission you give it, of course. I know this is not a new and revolutionary idea, but an app that collects your data of a routine or a progress you’re going through is still satisfying and fun.

After playing a little bit with the app I was a bit frustrated with the structural way it works — You can measure and document your runs, but documenting gym workouts is a bit crooked. I mean, it’s possible, but it’s not as easy. Gym workouts aren’t as measurable as runs, so there aren’t so many apps that do it, although generally all it takes is a little tick that you’ve completed a workout.

The improvement diary

My father cycled and swam for most of his life, and in order to document his progress, back in the past millennium, he wrote down his activities in a little diary, with a little illustration that describes the activity.
I really liked looking at these illustrations and records, both in a visual way and in a ideological way. So, a couple of months ago, I bought a cheap diary and at the end of every day wrote what I did in order to get better — Worked out, played the guitar, learned how to code in ReactJS, etc. This was pretty awesome, but still not so satisfying.


The all-tracking app

I don’t need to do a lot of persuasion work in order to sell the concept of an app that helps you become better, but I had an idea for an app that will help me get better and feel in control. The concept is really simple — It tracks everything. No complicated algorithms and no privacy-invading permissions. The concept is letting you say what you did, that was worth documenting, on each day. The missing ingredient that makes this app better than a physical diary, in my opinion is the option to review your progress summary. A weekly report of your process would be so satisfying to watch. The app doesn’t have to know what you did, the whole thing can be super-generic. Just seeing you worked out 4 times this week, learned piano for 7 hours, read a whole book… That’s so satisfying!



It’s as generic as a piece of paper

I can’t predict what type of activities will be tracked on this app; Some people like to go to the gym, while others like to practice on harmonica and others like to practice self-hypnosis. These are all things that require time and investment, for the long run — and that’s the common ground of these activities, not the way they’re recorded. An instance of an activity should have no more than these parameters:
Category — The activities should have categories in order to be summed up. “Gym” / “Tambourine” / “Drawing”.
Description (optional) — “A workout with my brother” / “Late night tambourine jam” / “First try of drawing with my eyes folded”.



Take control

Being in control makes me feel safe and comfortable, so for me, an app that keeps me in control of everything I want (again, I have the control), is the ideal way of being calm and satisfied. It would be a nice project for me to develop it myself and see how it feels. What do you think about this idea? Would you use it? Do you feel it needs any other upgrades? Tell me about it in the comments.

Icons made by Elias Bikbulatov from is licensed by CC 3.0 BY

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