Watching Yourself


Yesterday, Seth Godin had a great suggestion. He said to hire a geek to watch you for an hour and suggest five things you could do to save an hour. The ideas you get should pay for the service within a week.

I guess that is what my tool will do for people once they get into the rhythm of using it. They’ll be tracking the little stuff they are doing and realizing it only takes them five minutes a day. But knowing that, they might decide that time offers very little value, because it doesn’t advance any of the habits they are trying to adopt.

I have a couple of innocent looking habits in my tool that I will start tracking again when I get home. One is to log how much time I spend on deliberate practice of self-discipline. Another is the same log but for self-mastery.

Why would anyone care about those two things?

Well, despite my age, I want the future to be different from the past, and better. After finishing James Altucher’s book, I realize there are several little things I could start doing every day to build a better foundation. So what if it makes my list of “habits in development” longer. Reminding myself that I want to wash my hands more often will have a benefit down the road when cold season comes and I’m out meeting people who aren’t washing their hands.

But Seth makes a good point about having someone else watch you do things to see where you could save time or improve quality. I don’t think that putting an iPod Nano on your desk to record yourself for an hour would have the same benefits, although watching yourself in fast-forward might allow you to catch things you miss in real-time. And if you work alone, or you think your office is messy, it might be hard to accept an outsider being there, especially if there isn’t enough room.

Is it worth your time to review what you did for an hour once a week, just to see if you pick up on something that didn’t make sense? Wouldn’t there be other ways to get feedback?

I can remember dozens of times when explaining something to someone gave me insights into problems I was trying to solve. The other person didn’t have to know what I was talking about. Saying things out loud somehow gave me a different perspective on them. Would talking to myself work the same way, or does there have to be another person there, looking at me like I’ve suddenly sprouted an extra nose?

I don’t know, yet. I’m going to have to study these options and report back later. But maybe you will be that person that sees me grow an ear in the middle of my face. I need to listen to you more, even if you aren’t watching me. Maybe I could watch you and learn something.

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