Prioritizing the Important Things

Time, energy, and care are a finite resource. There is a set amount, and it’s up to us to figure out how to divvy it up. Therefore it’s really important to understand how we are naturally divvying up our time, energy, and care throughout a typical day, a year, a decade or lifetime. The best way to take charge is to really assess what it is that we truly care about because more often than not, our actions do not coincide with what we believe we care about.

Here are some things we would normally consider as the most important things in our lives:

  • Family
  • Spirituality
  • Work
  • School
  • Community
  • Friends
  • Fitness
  • Charities
  • Nation
  • Ideological Causes
  • Hobbies
  • The Arts
  • Relaxing
  • Travel
  • People
  • Seeking pleasurable experiences

As we can see, this is a long list and it’s safe to assume that we cannot spend equally significant time, energy, and care for each area of our lives.

A healthy exercise is to write out a personalized list which is ranked by importance. A simple list like this can be the backbone of every decision we make in life. It will help us prioritize our time for the future, and it will help us recognize situations where are doing things that contradict the order of importance.

The beautiful thing here is that there are no right lists. People are free to put importance on any facet of their lives. The importance lies in aligning our list with our actions. This next part is even more beautiful. If there are any inconsistencies, then all we have to do is either rearrange our list or change our actions.

The key in all this is to avoid contradictions. We have heard many people say how they may sabotage their own happiness. It happens when our lists are not aligned with our actions.

Making decisions with certainty allows for us to live without regrets, and the easiest way to reach this is to assess the things that are truly important to us. So when we hear things like, “Be true to yourself” or “Walk the talk”, both these phrases are talking about the same thing: living life without hypocrisy. And both these things

Dealing with Past Pains

We all think about our past, present and future constantly. We “live” in the present in our more hedonistic moments, we live in the future when we are studying diligently for a college exam, and we live in the past when we think about impactful moments in our lives. Sometimes past events are so powerful they dictate our present and interfere with our future. As if they are open wounds which may be prodded with the littlest prick.

No Regrets

We must all remember that we can’t change the past. The past has happened and it has marked itself on our life. We lived it and it is now a part of us whether we like it or not. Once this is realized we can do everything in our power to convince ourselves to cope with any pain that exists. We must convince ourselves that we live with no regrets. Let’s figure out how.

Fickle Memory

You can’t change the past, but we can alter the way we remember it. We already do this subconsciously. When we think about the good ole days we tend to pick out and think about the times we enjoyed and completely blank out the negative moments. After a break up, depending on the circumstances, we tend to remember only the good or the bad moments.

Empowering

If we are already doing it subconsciously, well let’s practice doing it consciously. We must become PR professionals and political spin artists. These professionals are good at exactly one thing and that is to find the positive from any story imaginable. No matter how bad the story people can find something positive. For example, many tragic experiences can also be a tremendous growing and maturing experiences. If we subconsciously can avoid the negative effects of an experience by focusing on the “good ole times” then we can consciously do the same thing with any memory. Latch on to the positive, spin with extreme focus and let it become empowering.

Forgiving Ourselves

All this is moot if we can’t forgive ourselves. In business it was once believe that self confidence was the most important characteristic for success, but it is not. It is the ability to forgive ourselves. With every failure there is the shame and pain of past experiences, and only when we can forgive ourselves and understand that perfection does not exist, it ‘s then that we can shape our recollection and embrace the learning experience of every bad memory.

Top New Productivity App

After just 4 days since our Android launch, we are a “Top New App” in the productivity category of the Play Store! Just a small step, but we are sure we will become a top app in no time!

BetterMe-Top-Productivity

Thanks for all the support so far. We really appreciate it. Please download our app and don’t forget to rate it!

Version 2 Launch

app store badge
Android app on Google Play


Today is the official launch of BetterMe Version 2. This includes feature updates and an Android version. Update or download the app, and rate us too. Please help us get the word out by sharing this post!

BetterMe is an app for people who will try anything to better themselves. The app uses public humiliation to help keep your appointments, to achieve your goals, and to jump out of bed in the mornings.

Features include an alarm clock, goal tracking, and GPS check-ins system to keep your recurring appointments. If you fail, each of these features will humiliate you by posting a message on your Facebook wall.

GPS Check-ins: First input the address and time of your gym, class, or work schedule. Then the app will use GPS to check if you arrived at your destination on time. If not, then you will be shamed on Facebook!

Goals: Goals are announced on Facebook. It asks your friends to hold you accountable. The app will later ask if you have achieved your goal and if not then you will be shamed on Facebook.

Alarm: Snooze this alarm clock and receiving a shaming immediately.

Android

iPhone

BetterMe: A 100 Day Review

What an adventure. Such a simple concept yet so much attention! It’s been a little over 100 days, and so we thought it would be fun to go over some usage statistics along with some of our different marketing efforts. Let’s start off with the statistics!

Downloads

iTunes Connect

According to iTunes Connect, we’ve had 3,200 downloads and we’re on pace to reach 10,000 in a years time. BetterMe has some international fanfare. Check out the breakdown of users per country:

Mexico 480 Brazil 29
Canada 309 Ukraine 29
Japan 166 Colombia 26
Russia 165 Morocco 19
France 159 Turkey 16
Armenia 147 Algeria 16
Australia 139 Peru 15
United Kingdom 127 Chile 14
Spain 71 Qatar 14
China 62 Israel 13
Taiwan 56 United Arab Emirates 10
Germany 52 Tunisia 8
Venezuela 41 South Africa 8
Jordan 36 New Zealand 6

Looks like 2nd most users come from Mexico while 3rd and 4th are in Japan and Russia.

Most downloads occurred on January 29th at 333 downloads. This is solely attributed to the Lifehacker article published that day. You can read the article here: http://lifehacker.com/5979811/the-most-sadistic-apps-that-force-you-to-get-stuff-done

Website Visits

Analytics

Surprisingly the most downloaded day does not correlate with the day we had the most traffic to our site. This occurred on April 30th with about 200 visits. Peculiarly we only had 22 downloads that day which is below our average. The majority of the traffic came from Facebook. Again peculiar because this was well above the average and yet we cannot figure out why. Below you can see our Facebook Insights for that day:

Facebook

As you can see above we posted a link to our blog post on our Facebook page that day. You will also notice in our next graph that we didn’t have a extraordinary day creating Facebook posts through our app.

Facebook Status Updates

Our next statistic is our favorite. This one comes from Facebook and it tells us how many status updates our app has created for users:

Status Updates

On March 16th we had the most status updates created in one day at 37. That means we had 37 separate snoozers that day!

Marketing

Facebook advertising

Facebook Ads

Facebook has been a great source of on demand downloads. From our analysis the cost per download is around $0.50. I think it helped that our app has a novelty feel and beyond that it was easy writing a catchy ad:

Facebeook Ad Example

The ad was marketed for those on the iOS and strictly from the phone. We did not filter the adds with any other demographics at first, but towards the end we were interested seeing the impact of marketing towards teenagers (inconclusive due to budgeting issues).

We haven’t experimented with maxing out budgets, but it’s good to know that downloads are available if we choose to increase our marketing budget.

Google Advertising

We tried advertising with Google Adwords, but we realized it cost a bit more than Facebook. We focused our campaign to strictly the iOS platform. Here are some of the statistics:

Google Ads

During that time period, we had an average of 37 downloads per day. Our average without advertising at the time period was roughly around 20 downloads per day. So at $20.00 a day, Google Adwords was costing us $1.00 per download.

Fiverr.com

We tried fiverr.com to see what kind of impact social media would have. There are many promoters on fiverr.com, and after sifting through and weeding out the ones that looked like spammers we went with 2 individuals who would Tweet, blog, and post on Facebook a blurb about our app. Each cost $5 dollars and so we sat back and watched. We had about 151 downloads on that day. I don’t know if all can be attributed to the two fiverr promoters, but they must have had an impact. Here is one of the blog posts:

http://leimobile.com/review-betterme-a-better-alarm-clock-for-iphone/

Organic

Our goal is to not to buy a user base. We believe that the app is inherently social and through organic marketing efforts we can grow quite large. Along with this, we believe in slow and steady effort focusing on the future of our brand. We have just begun blogging. Over the past two months we have already seen an increase in organic traffic to our site (too soon to impact app downloads).

We have been on Twitter and Facebook from day one. Our goal is to connect with individuals on a personal level over the social airwaves rather than posting into the void. We have generated deep relations with a small group of fans and we will continue to nurture this fact.  One by one we will continue to push for connections as if it’s a grass roots social media campaign.

Conclusion

It’s been a wonderful learning experience. There are some things we would have done differently from day one. For instance, we should have been collecting emails from the app. Our email list is very small, and this means we have no way of updating our customers! This has already been fixed with version 2.

Also we would have started promoting and blogging even before the app was made. We spent 3 months building the app without ever telling the world about it. There is no need for this and it’s really important to generate some buzz before launching.

We are excited about the next 100 days and hopefully we can write one of these again with larger figures. Wish us luck!

Fight Procrastination with Mental Hacks

Our brains are not wired for prolonged focus on long term goals. The concept of delayed gratification is one of the toughest things to exercise or practice. We need instant satisfaction and when something doesn’t provide instant satisfaction then the task falls down our to-do lists.

Here are two techniques we like to use when we are stuck not doing the important things that we know we need to be doing.

30 Minutes a Day

clock-faceTell yourself you will work on the large task for only 30 minutes a day. This isn’t so intimidating. The great thing about the 30 minutes a day concept is that before you know it the task get’s done. It’s like slowly chipping away at this enormous task without having to stress about the weight of the entire project.

Another wonderful side effect is that once you get started on the task, you may fall into the zone and continue working past the 30 minute marker. Usually when this happens, you were intensely focused and not really feeling the time flying. This is when you get your best work done!

Rearrange Your To-do List

to-do-listThis one is a cool mental hack. So you know you have to get that annoyingly important thing done, but you just can’t get yourself to do it. You start fidgeting with other tasks, and you get easier ones done and out of the way. Think about this phenomenon for a moment. You somehow got through your 2nd to nth to-do on your to-do list, and your sole motivation was that you didn’t want to get started on the most important thing.

What does this mean? Next time you are annoyed, and having trouble starting on that really important task, think about another even more annoyingly important task and write that as your number one task.

Procrastination sucks, but we all deal with it. Sometimes you just can’t do anything about it and the nearing deadline is the only way to buckle down and to get it done. On other days we have all the motivation in the world to do what it takes. Ride the good with the bad and really in the end, it’s best not to be to hard on yourself. Just keep at it!

Master a Skill in 10,000 Hours

A lot of people believe that we must be born with a certain level of genius to become a master a skill. Like Mozart, Tiger Woods, or Mark Zuckerburg, we envision a child obsessing over a subject and later dominating everyone else in the field. Is this entirely the case?

Outliers

Dr. K. Anders Ericsson, Professor of Psychology at Florida State University believed otherwise. His studies, made popular by Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers: The Story of Success, have shown that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to become a master of a subject. Instead of being born a genius, the Mozarts and Tiger Woods just reached their 10,000 hour mark at a younger age.

10,000 hours equates to about 3.5 years at 8 hours a day. If we were to spend only an hour a day it would take roughly 30 years to accumulate the 10,000 hours. It’s like 4 years at a university or the first 4 years at a job. Theoretically we should be pros by the end for both, though this is not always the case, especially when our focus is not entirely there.

Golfer

Dan McLaughlin is someone who read about this and decided to take the challenge. He quit his job and decided to become a master at golf. He is currently at the 5,000 hour mark, and still at it. He blogs about his journey at thedanplan.com.  There he provides statistical analysis of his game along with his personal struggles and achievements. We definitely hope he becomes a professional by the end of it!

All of us idolize our heroes and mentors as though they are god like in their skill, when in reality they had the patience and perseverance to spend a lot of time and energy doing the things they love. So if we truly want something bad enough, there should be no excuse to find the time to make our dreams come a reality. It may take 30 years, but the possibility is there.

BetterMe for the Android May 19th

It’s official, we will be launching the Android version of BetterMe on May 19th. That is 12 days from now! More impressively the Android version will include 2 new features:

alarmCheckin

Location Goals

GPS Check-ins: First input your gym, class, or work schedule (address and time). Then the app will use GPS to check if you arrived at your destination on time. If not, then you will be shamed on Facebook!

Goals: Goals are announced on Facebook. It asks your friends to hold you accountable. The app will later ask if you have achieved your goal and if not then you will be shamed on Facebook.

Stay tuned for further announcements. Also don’t forget to like us on Facebook and to follow us on Twitter here: betteremapp.co

 

You Probably Suck at Listening

Is anyone really reading all the status updates on Facebook?

black-man-yelling-into-phoneHow often do we really listen to people? How often do we put ourselves aside for a moment and truly try to unveil words and read deeply into what another person is saying? It’s not easy to do! Listening is a really important skill, and yet there is very little focus on the concept. In schools we are taught communications techniques. In universities we can be a communications major. In life we are pushed to constantly express ourselves. The whole basis of social media is to continually communicate! But when does someone ever sit us down and tell us how to be better listeners. Not to often.

How we communicate

Public-Speaker1Before we learn how to listen, we must understand the core concepts of communications. The Greeks got this right a long time ago. They summed up communication into three parts ethos, logos, and pathos. I’m sure you have heard these three words in succession before. Here is what they mean:

  • Ethos: Communication based on credibility or character
  • Logos: Communication based on an appeal emotion
  • Pathos: Communication based on logic

It is important to understand this because when someone is communicating they are communicating on all three layers. We do this subconsciously, but it’s entirely true. Go over any of the arguments you have had in the past and you will see how we touch on each style over and over.

The ideal listener

Audience-Listening-to-Public-Speaker-The ideal listener will listen empathically. We become the ideal listener when we truly care for what the other has to say and we truly want to feel what the person is feeling. We will try to understand all layers of communication for each statement, thought, or argument. As we reviewed earlier, the ideal listener listens for ethos, pathos, and logos. In other words, we listen to hear where the other person is coming from (ethos). Then we listen to the emotions behind their words (pathos). Are they really excited, or are they frustrated or fearful. Finally we listen to what they are saying (logos). All this to learn where they are coming from and what is it that they are trying to get at. All this to prove that you care and that you will not pass judgment and you will try really hard to understand.

Typical responses

78788-425x282-Group_ConversationTypically, a listener uses one of four ways to respond during a conversation.  We either evaluate, probe, give advice, or interpret.

  • “That totally reminds me of a story!”
  • “Well really you shouldn’t be doing that”
  • “I can’t believe you do that! That’s not right.”
  • “I do that too! Usually it’s because I am not happy with the situation..”

When we evaluate we are really passing judgment. It’s the easiest way for the person to clam up and stop feeling comfortable. Giving advice is great when it’s asked for, but when it’s not, there could be misunderstandings here. Interpreting involves superimposing our own motives into the conversation. The focus of the conversation shifts to the listener at this point, ignoring the motives of the other person. Finally, there is probing. It’s usually fine to probe, but if it’s a stranger then they will feel like they are being interviewed rather than being listened to. Usually the prober will end up passing judgment, giving advice or interpreting the situation in the end.

How we should respond

TETRRF-00013265-001Silence is a great way to respond. Simply just letting the person add to what they want to say. Try it! You would be surprised. Generally someone will keep going.

Secondly we can probe, but it must be gentle. We must do it to better understand the person, instead of driving the conversation to our desired topic. Lawyers are good at this and a common objection in the courtroom is leading the witness.

The last thing is the innocuous statement. Really it’s just repeating a key concept or emotional exclamation. Some examples are “Wow, that’s amazing!”, “I can’t believe that!”, or “That shit cray!”

What’s amazing is when we usually want to give advice, but hold off just long enough, we see that either the person comes up with the advice themselves or they ask us for advice.

The End Goal

couple pictureIn the end the goal is to strengthen the bonds of our relationships. There is no better way to do this then to do whatever it takes to learn about or understand the other person. To learn about what makes them excited, what their fears are, or what makes them tick.

The only way this can be done is to build trust. The more patient we are with the people we love, the less judgmental or pushy, the more trust we will build.

Listening is not passive. We must practice to become better listeners especially for the people we love and care about.