Activity Map. A way to visualise and improve my writing frequency.

Wanting to build the habit of writing and publishing a blog post every day, I decided to build a microproduct inspired by Github's contribution calendar. This is an overview of my thinking process and the "final" result.

Image of GitHub contribution calendar UI

The user interface you see above is from Github and is ubiquitous with their brand. Many developers derive motivation and pride from seeing their contribution visualised over the array of green squares. And even though the system can be gamed, my hypothesis is that being able to visualise my writing activity might provide additional motivation and increase my consistency in the short-term. To test this, I'm hacking together an activity map over a couple of hours.

There are cheaper ways of achieving the same result. I could build a spreadsheet or use a notion page. Having that in mind, the added investment I'm making to build my own solution is within a similar order of magnitude. And the joy and learnings I derive from doing that are worth it.

Because I'm only willing to invest a couple of hours designing and coding a solution, there are many things that are out of scope. More specifically:

  • No tooltips. Although they are aesthetically pleasing, they don't add any functionality.
  • No mobile version. Even though it would be handy, a mobile optimised version is not necessary for the experiment to produce an outcome that can be measured.
  • There won't be any way of seeing how many essays I wrote per day since I'm not likely to publish more than one blog post.
  • The solution should only display the activity of the last 30 days. This should be enough to create value without making the work of shaping and implementing a solution more complex.

You can interact with it in real time here.

It's hard to resist the urge to keep building and increasing the complexity of the functionality. I'll try my best! If after 4 weeks, my number of published posts per week increased consistently, then I'll see this experiment as a success and proceed to invest more time and energy into improving or rethinking the user experience of this micro product.

Only you know who you can be