How I use a scorecard to build and manage my blog

One thing I have come to realize about myself is that I need to keep score if I want to get things done. Not keep score against others, but rather just keep score with myself. I need to add a layer of gamification to many of the goals I want to achieve, otherwise I can mindlessly drift into activities that do not move the ball forward on the things that I really want to pursue and areas I want to grow in. Blogging is one of those activities that can sometimes be easy for me to push aside if I get lazy. At the same time, blogging, building a robust content library, and developing online products are crucial to some of my long-term goals, so I have to keep moving even when things get busy (or I get lazy).

One solution I developed to keep me motivated is a blogging scorecard. This tool gives me quantified results and a visual representation of my blogging progress every week. I built it in Google Sheets (I also have a Microsoft Excel version, but more on that later in the post) and it uses simple formatting, simple formulas, and conditional formatting to keep me accountable and motivated to achieve a high score for the week. Below is an image showing what the scorecard looks like.

Here are some notes about the spreadsheet:

  • I have my blogging activities split into two categories, one for content development and maintenance, and one for analytics and web development. I can add or remove lines (or even sections, for that matter) as needed, depending on the different activities I may be focused on at any point in time.
  • The gray boxes are days that I am not expecting to complete those tactics, so they are not calculated in the completion percentages.
  • Each line is tallied by COUNTA() and SUM() formulas, as well as the section percentages, and the overall completion percentage.
  • I mark the cells with “X” tallies, but you could put anything in the boxes because the COUNTA() function only cares that the cell is not null.
  • I am using conditional formatting on the end column that shades from red to green depending on the percentage. When the week starts, they are all red, so it is motivating to see the boxes change colors and get closer to green as I mark cells off.
  • The total completion box is also using condition formatting, but in this case, displays a green check mark if I get over a 75% completion rate, a yellow exclamation mark for 33%-74% completion, or a red stop sign for anything below 33%.
  • I have played around with weighting different processes, offering me a greater score for completion over others, but in general I usually just have every row be equal to each other.

By the end of the week, I have a great understanding of the progress I made through the week, and then strive to beat that completion percentage the next week, or see how many 100%’s I can string together. I have gamified my blogging.

I have these scorecards for various things, including certain systems I manage at work and for working out, just to name a couple. But my blogging one gets the most attention by far.

As I mentioned above, I built this in Google Sheets, but I have found that it converts into Microsoft Excel pretty easily. If you would like a copy of this scorecard, just drop me a note using the form in my About page and I will send you an email with the link to download the template. (Note: This also opts you in on my email list, but trust me, its all good stuff that will come your way and will be worth your time… promise. Also, I send out free templates and exclusive content to my email list regularly).

Hopefully some of you might find this to be a useful tool if you are looking to build and manage your blog better.

My experience with the Garmin vivoactiveHR smartwatch

The current smartwatch I am sporting is the Garmin vivoactiveHR. I picked it up about six months ago (April 2017), and while it is not the most recent Garmin product in the smartwatch product category, I have been fairly happy with it so far.

Why I Chose the Garmin vivoactiveHR

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From 2010 to 2013, I exclusively used a Fitbit device. I loved the Fitbit product and for the most part it worked well. Sometimes I would have syncing issues, but nothing I couldn't work around. Then from 2013 to 2014 I had a Samsung Gear watch, 2014 to 2015 I had a Motorola 360 smartwatch, and in 2016 I went back the the Fitbit brand. In early 2017 I was interested in trying out completely different brand and Garmin stuck out. I was slightly price sensitive early in the year, so I opted for the year-old model.  As for why I chose the Garmin vivoactiveHR as opposed to another brand… basically it came down to brand reputation and customer reviews. During my time working at Life Time Fitness, I became familiar with the Polar and Garmin brands and their reputation for quality. I knew people who had Garmin devices and swore by them. Secondly, there were more than enough positive customer reviews and videos on YouTube to convince me of the decision to purchase the Garmin.

How the Garmin vivoactiveHR meets my self tracking practice requirements

Whenever I am choosing a wearable to purchase, above all other factors, is whether or not the device can record key data points for my self tracking practice. In terms of what I look for in a wrist wearable, the Garmin vivoactiveHR records and stores all of the key metrics I need, including:

  • Steps

  • Exercise duration and distance

  • Heart rate

  • Sleep

  • Calories burned

What I like about the Garmin vivoactiveHR

Besides all the tracking I mentioned above, there are a couple other features I really like about the Garmin vivoactiveHR. First and foremost, it has a built in golf application that gives extremely accurate yardage and does score keeping. The database of courses is huge and I have yet to not find a course I wanted to download to the watch. Secondly, the companion app is solid. All the metrics are available and the Insights section actually does a good job finding patterns in your data. Third, while this is more of a sportswatch than a smartwatch, it does deliver phone call and text notifications, which is nice. Finally, there are hundreds of ways to customize the homescreen of the watch, which is a great way to build a custom view you like. Finally, the watch tracking (steps, heart rate) is incredibly accurate, which is important for a self tracker. Oh, one more thing… the battery life is incredible as well. I can get anywhere from 7-10 days without juicing it up again.

Things I am less impressed with in the Garmin vivoactiveHR

There is really only one thing that is disappointing about the Garmin vivoactiveHR. The app store that you can access through the Garmin Connect app is an awful experience. The apps looks like ones you would find in some junky 3rd party app store for a smartphone. I did install a weather app and a Google Calendar app, but nothing else. Mostly because I couldn't find anything useful. There are a few official Garmin apps, but nothing to write home about. Like I mentioned above, the watch face apps are about the only thing worth your time digging through. I am sure that part of the reason for a lackluster app store experience is that Garmin is trying to use one app store and app instance for all their touchscreen wearables, meaning the user experience is not always consistent.

My overall thoughts on the Garmin vivoactiveHR

There are definitely more pluses than minuses when it comes to the Garmin vivoactiveHR. If you are in the market for a cost effective, earlier model smartwatch, the Garmin vivoactiveHR is worth a look. If you do decide to purchase, I would appreciate you using my Garmin vivoactiveHR Amazon Associate link to support my site and content. Then please let me know your thoughts on the comments below!

Livestream Event: Samsung's "Unpacked" Galaxy Note 8 Launch

Today is the day.  Samsung is finally going to "unpack" the newest device in the Note product line.  I haven't decided if I will be picking up the Note 8 yet when I am due for an upgrade in November, so I looking for this event to show me what features Samsung has up it's sleeve.  Watch the livestream below and let me know your thoughts in the comments section.