Track Your Happiness Survey Results, The Quantified Self, and Emotional Feedback Loops

TrackYourHappiness.org is a research project that investigates what makes life worth living. It was created as part of Matt Killingsworth’s doctoral research at Harvard University. I found the project while browsing the Internet one night and decided to sign up. Here are my results:

Track Your Happiness Results for Amber Case

How does it work?

Once you sign up for TrackYourHappiness, you get asked some preliminary questions for statistical purposes. This takes about 10 minutes. Then you get sent 50 survey requests over the next month or so. Completing them gives you a picture of your happiness levels over time, as well as a number of other pieces of data that relate to happiness. The questions often asked me about how much sleep I had received the night before, or if I was talking with anyone.

I was able decide when and how often I wanted to be notified. I opted for survey prompts to be sent to me at random intervals, three times a day, to report how I was feeling and what I was doing.Because I knew I would never complete the survey if I was sent survey prompts by E-mail, I opted for SMS, eventually switching to Direct Messages from Twitter. The direct messages ended up working out the best. I received direct messages from @trackhappiness on Twitter 3 times a day, and filled them out over a period of 3 months, starting in April and ending today, July 1st.

Even with Twitter notifications, I should’ve finished sooner. 50 samples should only take half a month or so, assuming 3 are sent completed per day. However, the surveys were quite long and rather repetitive, each of them often taking 3-5 minutes to complete. I became rather fatigued of the project at the end of May, which resulted in my skipping 126 survey prompts. I let the prompts run their course on my phone through the entire month of June before I decided to break down and fill out the rest of them. That was two weeks ago. I’m finally done.

Productivity and Happiness

Track Your Happiness - Productivity vs. Happiness

My initial hypothesis was that I would be the happiest while being the most productive.

The results seem to imply, and I also noticed this while filling out survey results, that I am often tired while being very productive. Thus, high levels of productivity don’t always make me completely happy.

Additionally, productivity is tiring, so my happiness is dependent upon how I feel physically. Sometimes I’m happiest while doing everything I can *not* to be productive.

Happiness: Outside vs. Inside

Track Your Happiness - Outside vs. Inside

I found that I’m pretty much the same outside as I am while inside. (Caveat 1: I reported being outside while I was in a vehicle. Caveat 2: This survey was taken in the spring/summer, where being outside is generally awesome).

Happiness vs. Want To, Have To; Don’t Have To; Don’t Want To

Track Your Happiness - Tasks: Want To vs. Don't Want To

These results seemed a bit obvious, thought I expected that I’d be happier when doing things I wanted to do, but didn’t have to do. Instead, I reported being slightly happier doing things I wanted to do and had to do, vs. wanted to do, but didn’t have to do. And of course, I wasn’t as happy to do things I both didn’t want to do as well as didn’t have to do.

One item is missing here – the Don’t Want To, Have To. I guess I never responded with anything I didn’t want to do, but Had to Do.

Focus and Happiness

Track Your Happiness - Focus and Happiness

I’m very unhappy when I’m having a fragmented thought process, and the happiest when I’m fully focused on something. This could also be related to productivity.

Happiness: Amount of Sleep and Sleep Quality

Track Your Happiness - Amount of Sleep, Quality of Sleep

One night I got 18 hours of sleep. I forgot what night that was, but it must have been after waking up at 4 for a early morning flight to San Francisco, and getting back late at night. Who knows? Regardless, I was not very happy after I woke up. Oversleeping is not something I enjoy very much.

Other than that, as long as I get 7-10 hours of sleep, I’m pretty much fine. For some odd reason, I never took the survey after 5 or 4 hours of sleep. Those amounts always make me unhappy. My brain won’t cogitate correctly the next day because it hasn’t had enough REM time to defragment itself to make room for new ideas. Oh well.

Happiness: Being Alone vs. Being With Others

Track Your Happiness - Being Alone, Interacting with Others

I consistently talked to a similar variety of people over time, and my happiness was about the same. The only reason I might not have been as happy when talking with friends might have been due to the context of the conversation.

Often, friends let on more personal information than acquaintances might. An acquaintance, for instance, might be more concerned with keeping a situation upbeat and not diving into complex or potentially unsettling issues, stories, or problems. I don’t think I really encountered any of that, no do I on a normative basis. However, if my level happiness around friends were significantly lower than with the other types of people, I would suspect that this might be the case.

Happiness vs. Activity

Track Your Happiness - Happiness vs. Activity

Most of these responses were given during the time when I was moving into a new place. My favorite activity is, and may always be, writing on a white board. I was the least happy when I was “relaxing”. I typically don’t relax. Rather, my body forces myself to take a break. To me, relaxing is sleep. I try to get a lot of it. When I’m awake, I try to get things done.

Conclusions

Now that the survey is over, it’s nice to have this data. If I were to do this again (and I might in 6 months), I would probably not use this interface. I’d rather build my own, and then run correlative tests in the background to net useful outcomes, not outcomes that were almost completely obvious upon answering the daily questions.

An amusing side-effect of being finished is that I keep getting phantom notifications. I think that I’m getting a direct message from @trackyourhappiness with a request for data. I won’t be getting them anymore.

Pros

This survey did one very good thing: it caused me to consider my happiness quite a bit. I was very aware every day of all of my thoughts and actions. I wanted to predict what the results would be, even though it was quite obvious what the were going to be. I found that it was pretty simple to control my happiness. Also, I realized that I’m a generally happy person because I have artificially constructed an automatic feedback loop that reinforces positive environmental conditions.

For instance, sleep quality showed some pretty good results. Of course I was unhappy with a sleep quality of 0 or 30. These results are quite obvious. 100% sleep quality pretty much always meant a pretty high level of happiness.

Which means I’m a pretty simple creature. I’m happy when I’ve had enough sleep and food to eat at regular intervals. Though food was not part of the survey, I’ve been tracking food intake, time, amount and type for the last year. It really matters.

Does this mean that one can architect a feedback loop of good sleep and healthy, regular food intake in order to ensure perfect happiness? Is there a programmatic approach to perfect happiness?

As an avid social experimenter within the game The SIMS, I’ve had a chance to test all of the variables and scenarios that one can have, or be denied, and the effects on one’s happiness due to those things. In the game, one can achieve a 100% happiness level based on a number of factors which include, hunger level, cleanliness, restroom need, social interaction need, surrounding environment (if a SIM is in a messy or badly formed house, they are more likely to be unhappy) and level of rest.

In a way, I would’ve liked this survey to have more of those items. That way, it might have been able to educate people about their dependence on these external effects.

For instance, I moved into a very specific type of living situation because I had programmed it out in the SIMS and saw that it had all of the requisite items for self actualization. It’s more than just sleep quality. One must have an environment that makes quality sleep possible, and a work situation that is not so stressful that it prevents sleep. Elements of the house, commute, food, ect., are all important.

Finally, I thought the project very successful in integrating with Twitter/SMS, because I would never do it if I received an E-mail notification three times a day. SMS/Twitter integration allowed it to meld more smoothly into the processes of my everyday life.


Cons

It left out a lot of things, like the last time I ate, what I ate, how tired I felt, how stressed, ect. These have a lot of bearing on happiness. Sometimes it asked me if I was thinking negative thoughts. If I said yes, it asked me if I could control these thoughts if I wanted to. This was as close as the survey got to getting at some sort of psychological effect determining happiness. The only other things it tracked were location, socialization and sleep. For me, it’s obvious that getting a bad night of sleep affects my happiness.

I’d like to know if my eating habits or times affect my happiness. There’s a lot more that can be gathered here that the survey failed to capture and record.

About

Amber Case, (@caseorganic) is a Cyborg Anthropologist studying the interaction between humans and computers and how our relationship with information is changing the way we think, act, and understand the world around us. She’s obsessed with compressing the space and time it takes to get data from one place to another, especially when the final destination is the mind.

Non-Visual Augmented Reality | Geonotes, Proximal Notification Systems, and Automatic Check-ins with GPS and SMS

If you don’t know Aaron Parecki (@aaronpk) yet, you should. You have an excuse if you don’t yet. He moved to Portland in October 2009.

The reason you should know him is because he created a system for automatic location check-in two years ago. He’s been taking GPS data every day for those past two years, and he’s got major data visualization skills. And Aaron innovates. The system he built keeps getting built.

I first met Aaron at Beer and Blog when he had just moved to Portland from Eugene. I forgot who introduced him to me, but I was very excited. I’d been talking about so many of the systems that Aaron was actually building. I promptly told him to present at the second Portland data visualization group, which he did.

Since then, we’ve been working on micro projects together. I started carrying around a GPS with me starting on 12/28/2009. With the exception of Japan, I’ve been logging pretty much everywhere I’ve been.

Having two GPS devices in play makes for some interesting opportunities, which is the subject of this post. This will all make sense in a minute.

mobile-sms-gps-location-check-in-pkbot

Automatic Location Check-ins

A while ago, Aaron set up an automated check in system based on GPS coordinates. The system allows one to check into locations without having to load an interface. This was about 2 years before any of the geosocial systems were readily available. Parecki was not living in Portland, and his audience was small.

Now, social sharing platforms are hot, but they still require user action. This means that one still has to pause social flow to look down at a device, poke a few buttons, and check in. This is normal when one is around a tech-focused crowd, but should one still do this on a date? Or in the presence of a non-geek?

Checking in and Social Punctuation

Checking in can punctuate social flow. I ate lunch one afternoon with and experienced this. A group of five was sitting at the table next to me. One of the guys in the group got excited when he sat down. “Oh! I have to check in on Foursquare!” he said. His tablemates looked at him with blank faces as he tapped away at his mobile device. When he realized this, he started trying to describe Foursquare in order to explain why he had stopped to check in on his mobile device. It didn’t work. There is a way to avoid this.

Quadrant-Based SMS Alerts

Early on, Parecki’s system was able to SMS messages depending on quadrants of Portland, or pre-defined locations. Every time I go home, I get a text message on my phone telling me that I’ve arrived at home. Instead of actively checking in, I can simply dismiss the message. This reduces the time and space it takes to check in because I don’t have to load an app, wait for the location, and then check in. When I leave SE Portland and enter Downtown Portland, I get a SMS message telling me that I’ve changed locations.

Co-Location Negotiation proximity-notification-aaron-parecki

But there’s a lot more to the social equation than just automatically checking in. GPS is useful for a number of things. For instance, co-location negotiation, or “meeting up”, is one of the most text heavy social protocols currently in existence. It gets worse when one party hops from place to place, because one can’t constantly text their location or forward motion. Two people who haven’t met before must also negotiate by multiple texts. One might sit in a coffeeshop and wait for quite a bit of time without knowing when the other person should arrive. New visitors to buildings need specific directions in order to enter the location.

Instead of receiving a text message like “I’m late!” or “stuck in traffic”, I’ve been able to simply look at Aaron’s GPS. The picture is worth a thousand text messages. I can see if he’s left the office or if he’s crossing the Burnside bridge. If the GPS lines are squiggly and slow, I know he’s having trouble finding a parking spot.

In this situation, there is no need for text messages. Looking at a GPS map still takes user effort and load time. This punctuates task completion and social flow if one must always be checking and refreshing a GPS map 15 minutes before someone arrives.

In an effort to reduce the need to look at the GPS map, Parecki set up what has proven to be my favorite part of the entire system: proximity notification.

Proximity Notification

Instead of having to look at Parecki’s GPS map, the system detects when Aaron and I are in a certain distance of one another. I know when Parecki is near when I get a text message that says “you are 0.4 miles from aaronpk”.When I get a message that says “you are 0.1 miles from aaronpk”, I know that he’s arrived.

proximity-messaging-aaronpk-caseorganic-gps

I can wrap up client work or finish what I am doing right up until the moment he gets there. I don’t have to waste time waiting. I get a warning “0.4 miles!” and then a confirmation “0.1 miles!”. It’s the equivalent of “on my way” and “here”, the two most common co-location ‘drags’. I call them drags because they are redundant and repetitive communication protocols. They’re actions that can be costly, especially when struggling to split concentration between driving and texting, or the sheer inability to text while on bike.

pkbot-burnside-bridge-checkin-caseorganic-gps

Bridge Notifications

A few nights ago, Aaron created bridges as locations, so that one could be checked into them as well. I got the text message you see here on my iPhone when I crossed the Burnside bridge.

Aaron wants to take the two years of GPS data he’s gathered and use it to visualize how many times he’s crossed the many bridges in Portland. It’s kind of amusing to get an SMS when crossing a bridge.

Why is any of this stuff important?

I’ll tell you why it’s important. Computers are evaporating. Interfaces are dissolving. Innovation in technology comes from reducing the time and space it takes to preform an action, or compressing redundant actions in order to free up time. Computers used to be the size of gymnasiums. Now we have computers in our pockets, begging for attention. We’re constantly planning for our future selves. We look at Yelp! reviews to prepare our next culinary adventure. We want to guarantee that our future selves will have a good experience. We’re connecting to tons of people to do this, connecting to the collective wisdom of a data set that consists of many samples. The more samples, the more accurate the data set. Why ask one person when you can ask many?

Tablet GPS

Xerox PARC had little tablets in the 80’s that allowed everyone to see where everyone was. There were little local GPS maps in the offices, so people could co-locate more easily. One of the guys working there was very excited about the tablets. “This is the future,” he said, “in maybe 20 or 30 years, everyone will have one of these. What works within these walls will work everywhere on Earth”.

Good interfaces disappear. Good work is invisible. Good technology dissolves. A book is a good piece of technology. If the writing in it is good enough, one’s consciousness dissolves into the pages and one has a consensual hallucination of an alternate reality.

All that is Solid Melts Into Air

The mouse is melting. The button is evaporating. Why check in physically when you can do so automatically? “Buttons are losing their shape,” says Interaction Designer Bill DeRouchey in a recent speech on the History of the Button at SXSW, (Bill’s slides on SlideShare) “Before [the computer monitor], buttons always had a sort of tangible border around them, whether physical or visual”. Automatically checking into a location means that the button does not even have a center. It is just a state that one physically walks into, or something that occurs after a certain amount of time has passed. An environmental button.

This is very similar to a video game, in which pieces of the environment closer to the avatar are loaded more fully than far away variables. Our lives are turning into video games, with plus one follower, and plus one friend. Our phones are our friends, giving us statistics about who we are and what we can do. They are our remote controls for reality.

Button Evolution

“Steve jobs hates buttons”, DeRouchey continues, “He sort of has this mandate to not have buttons. This is evidence if you consider how long they resisted having a two button mouse. It’s a all about hiding the buttons, hiding the barrier between us and technology”. Good design is reducing buttons.

A vehicle is a physical transportation device. There are limits to how small it can be made. But a computer is a mental transportation device. It need not be limited by tangibility.

Geonotes – Attaching Notes to Place

Location sharing platform Gowalla has items that one can collect when they check in, but they have to physically check in on the interface in order to retrieve the item.

This Sunday, Parecki developed the ability for users to send geonotes. That is, an outsider can open up a Google map and drag a circle over an area.

You can leave a Geonote for @aaronpk. Just drag your cursor, choose a geo size, and leave your message!

send-aaron-parecki-a-geonote

If you leave your E-mail address, you’ll get an E-mail when @aaronpk gets your note. Also, the bar will let you know @aaronpk’s likelihood of receiving your message, based on 30 days of GPS history. You can also leave a Geonote for me as well.

thanks-send-aaron-parecki-a-geonote

Geolocal Autosubscribing RSS Feeds and Augmented Reality

When one takes automatic check-ins further, one can add streaming data, allowing one’s device to collect SMS messages for hyperlocal areas without the need for QR codes or any visuals. This could be called non-visual augmented reality.

At WhereCamp 2008 in Portland, I wrote about the possibilities and opportunity of Geolocal Autosubscribing RSS Feeds.

I began the session by drawing a big grid of Portland’s on the white board. I drew 5 circles representing Portland’s 5 quadrants on the white board, and labeled them NW, NE, SW, SE and N. The circles represented ranges of ‘hearing’ that a mobile device might have to RSS feeds. I pointed out that as one progresses from street to street, quadrant to quadrant, one’s phone should understand this and automatically subscribe the user to the geolocal RSS feed for that area. That way, data could be very relevant and contextual to the area.

Aaron Parecki has developed a framework that does just this. Locations are defined by circles on a map, and SMS messages are triggered to send when one enters into the area defined by that circle. One can set neighborhoods, areas, and blocks.

Privacy, GPS, SMS and Check-in Exhaustion

Privacy is an enormous issue with systems like this. One does not always want SMS updates, open GPS map data, or text notifications of another’s proximity. In our case, it works well because we work together frequently. If, on the other hand, we were to get proximity notification texts all the time because our commutes were similar, the data fuzz would be annoying and unvaluable. We’re the only two people using the system right now. Anyone with more than 10 active friends on Foursquare or Gowalla and has probably experienced a Push Notification nightmare of endless texts.

Relative Location Value

Here’s a definition: One’s location is valuable to another if and only if that location or person is socially relevant during that time period. The basic case here is the meeting. Person A and Person B need to meet each other, but GPS data is only shared between them when they have a scheduled meeting. When the meeting ends, the data wall closes off, giving them back their privacy, kind of like a wormhole of temporary transparency between two people. This solves the problem of extreme bouts of “checkin-ism”., as well as the issue of remaining privy to one’s whereabouts all the time.

If more people were on the network, this sort of action would have to be taken. Negotiations of privacy and messages would have to be structured so as to prevent push and SMS notification exhaustion. When done correctly, the system is a valuable time saver that decreases anxiety, showing that technology is not inherently good or bad. It is design that is important.

Want to Learn More?

There’s a lot more. Hours and hours worth. But if you’d like 45 minutes of it, come to our talk at Open Source Bridge session: Non-visual location-based augmented reality using GPS data.

non-visual-location-based-augmented-reality-using-gps-data-open-source-bridge

The presentation will cover the topics discussed above. It will also highlight the advantages and disadvantages of visual and non-visual augmented reality. We’ll cover alternate types of augmented reality techniques and how they have been saving us time in the past few months.

We’ll demonstrate how we’ve been merging available technologies with custom programming to create location-aware social networks with custom proximity notification. Finally, we’ll describe other uses for location sharing, such as automatically turning off house lights when leaving for work, and wayfinding with piezoelectric buzzers. Privacy and data transparency will also be discussed.

How is the GPS data taken?

Aaron Parecki uses trackr.eu. They have windows mobile, java, and blackberry versions of their software. Parecki says that, “when the GPS device has a lock it is very accurate, you can tell what side of the street I am on”. The program logs data about every 6 seconds, so it ends up being a very smooth line when drawn on a map.

iPhone Software

iPhone users can use a program called InstaMapper. However since it’s an iPhone you will be limited to running the application in the foreground, which means you’ll stop tracking if you get a phone call or want to check twitter or something. But as long as the program is open you’ll be tracking. IIRC it doesn’t end up with as high resolution data as the program on my phone.

boost-mobile-phone-gpsSince I have an iPhone, I can’t run a GPS apps continuously unless the device is jailbroken, so Aaron set me up with with a pre-paid Boost Mobile phone, which the InstaMapper program runs on as well.

One downside is that I have to carry and charge another device. This isn’t bad at all, because I can carry 8 hours of GPS tracking, and it feels kind of awesome to have a physical GPS tracker instead of some claustrophobic invisible mobile app within a device. Not to say that the Boost Mobile interface isn’t archaic. In a way, it’s the age of the interface that makes it nice. Switching between the two makes one constantly appreciate and consider the extremely fast evolution of interface design.

Boost Mobile Phone as GPS Device

You can pick up a Boost Moble phone for $50 at Target, and get a $10 prepaid card. You wouldn’t be using any voice minutes on it, but the credits expire after some time. It would only cost $10/month to run it all the time. Over the summer I loaned a friend my Boost phone and she took it on a bike ride from NY to LA logging most of the way.

Instamapper has an API which provides a CSV file of the last 100 points logged. Aaron then imports them into a MySQL database.

aaron-parecki-gps

More about Aaron Parecki

You can follow @aaronpk on Twitter, or you can go to aaronparecki.com or visit aaron.pk, the mobile version.
Leave Aaron a Geonote if you’d like. If that’s not your thing, enjoy some Data Visualization that Aaron’s done with his GPS data.

And if you liked what you read, I suppose you can follow me on Twitter as well, or see if I’m in town.

Cyborg Anthropology at BoCo – A Fusion of Tech, Music and Food in Boulder, Colorado

boco-boulder-music-tech-food

Today I was excited to speak at BoCo, a great new conference developed by the Boulder Tech Community, especially Andrew Hyde. Rick Turoczy was there, among other awesome Portlanders, San Fransiscans, and Boulderites. It  was a sunny day and there were beautiful mountains all around. The morning sessions dealt with food and music and were very wonderful to listen to.

spacesuit-as-cyborg

I spoke about Cyborg Anthropology, which is the study of human computer interactions and how technology affects the way in which we communicate with one another.

We Are All Cyborgs

When you read this, you are acting as a low-tech cyborg, because you are using a computer to view text that I have written. My writing is stored here in my website, part of my actor network of external technological devices that, when taken together, comprise my technosocial self. As cavemen, we began skipping evolution by crafting spears instead of growing teeth. We began making hammers as extensions of our fists.

caveman-cyborg-anthropology-boco

My social self is part technology and part human. My technological self does a lot of networking for me through my social networking profiles and my Google search results. So do yours (if you have them). My technosocial avatar of a self networks for me when I’m not there.

Distributed Social Selves

Each piece of my distributed social identity leaves a geological trail of past self that my present self can interact with. These all comprise my future self, which your future self or selves will most undoubtedly interact with. The online optimization of self, when coupled with the analog optimization of self (i.e. real-life networking, person to person) is the creation of a stable identity that is uniformly distributed and presented all over the web.

Technology Resembles Magic

Technology is almost magical. Like the scrying pool of the past (or of fantasy novels), the iPhone or computer monitor allows us to view anything anywhere in the world through YouTube and Twitter, News sites and Facebook. We can summon up an image with a simple spell (a simple text entry into Google search or Twitter search) and we can extend our speech and ears across very large distances in seconds with the mere touch of a button.

Technology Gives Us Superpowers

Technology, when used well, gives us amazing superpowers. We are like gods, until we forget to charge our batteries. We are like gods, until we forget to upgrade our devices to the most recent operating system or device number. Our external prosthetic devices turn against us when they get old. Our old clothes go out of style. Our brick phones make us get laughed at in the streets.

From Physical Transportation to Mental Transportation

In the same way that cars transport our physical bodies, computers and cell phones transport our spiritual bodies. Don’t like the word spiritual? Use the word mind instead. We’re increasingly entering into a world of mental machines – mental transportation devices. These devices transmit our thoughts invisibly to others. They are taking up smaller amounts of space, until vehicles, who require increasingly large highways.

Mental Traffic Jams

We have traffic jams, too. Mental traffic jams. Jams on Twitter. Twitter fails. Rush hour around important events and deaths and wars and crises. We can now have multiple views of the same event.

Telephonic Schizophrenia

When telephone technology first came out, people felt it was crazy. The idea of going into a room and speaking into a machine sounded schizophrenic.

history-of-the-landline-boco

More

There is more: enough to fill up a hour and a half speech, but I’ll leave that to you to see the next time I speak. Until then, you can follow me on Twitter @caseorganic, or you can check out BoCo.

Sick of Clicking Next? Autopagerize Does the Clicking For You! | A Greasemonkey Tutorial

mozilla-addons-for-firefoxI first heard about Autopagerizer through Marshall Kirkpatrick of Read Write Web. He demonstrated it by doing a Google search and scrolling down to the bottom of the page.Except there wasn’t and “bottom of the page”. Instead, page 2 of the Google search results loaded. And when he scrolled down to the bottom of page two, page three loaded.

greasemonkey-script-auto-load-page-autopagerize

“This doesn’t just work for Google search results,” he said, “It works for Flickr too!”. He wisked over to Flickr with quick Apple+Tab, and scrolled down to the bottom of his photostream. It worked. The next page automatically loaded. It was great.

“See?” he said, grinning, “it’s the best way to view tons of Flickr photos at once”.

I was hooked. I knew I’d never go back to browing the Internet the same way. I quickly installed Greasemonkey and installed the Autopagerize over it. It was simple to do, and you can do it within the next five or ten minutes.

First, Install Greasemonkey for Firefox

greasemonkey-download-now

First, you’ll need to install the Greasemonkey plugin, so make sure you’re running Firefox.If you don’t run Firefox (which you should, especially if you’re running Internet Explorer) then you can download Firefox here (it’s free).

Greasemonkey installs just like any other plugin. You may have to restart the browser after you install it. Just make sure to copy this URL when you close it so you can come back and finish the rest of the install.

firefox-dialog-box-greasemonkey

Next, Install Autopagerize

Okay, now you’ve installed Greasemonkey. Now, all you have to go is install Autopagerize.

autopagerize-for-greasemonkey

Got it installed? Great! Now type something into Google and scroll down to the bottom of the page. The second page should load automatically. If it does not, then try restarting your browser.

A Note of Caution:

Jeremy Logan makes a good point when he says: “this is a neat and useful addon, but you should be aware that if you use other Greasemonkey scripts or add-ons to modify pages then they generally run once the page is loaded. This means the scripts won’t run on the second (third, fouth…) page’s content once it’s loaded”. Thanks, Jeremy!

That aside, it doesn’t end there. There’s a bevy of scripts out there that can help make your Internet experience much more enjoyable. Autopagerize is just the tip of the iceberg.

Other Greasemonkey Scripts You Might Want to Try

Nested Twitter Replies

Nested Twitter Replies looks for the phrase “in reply to [user]” and recursively gets all replies to display the conversation thread as a nested block. You can get Nested Twitter Replies here

Remove All Facebook Ads

This is a cool Greasemonkey script because it removes all the ads from your Facebook experience. Unless you like ads. If you do, that’s fine with me. You don’t have to install the script.

Download Remove All Facebook Ads here.

Better Twitter

Adds auto reloading, continuous scrolling, @reply highlights, last read tweet, auto-completion of friends in @replies, @mentions, and direct messages, inline replies, minified layout, map for coordinates, retweeting, tweet preview, and more!

You can download Better Twitter here.

Videoembed

First off all, this script is awesome. If you search for something on Google and a video comes up in your search results, you can play the video right in your search results without having to go to the page.

But this script doesn’t just work for Google – it works for all websites, and videos from most video sites, like glumbert, metacafe, google, yahoo, photobucket, youtube, myspace…(and many others) so you can view the video without opening a new page.

You can download Videoembed here.

Want More Scripts?

Since you have Greasemonkey, you can install any scripts you want by finding scripts through http://userscripts.org/, an entire database of related scripts.

greasemonkey-usage-by-os-statistics

About:

Amber Case is a cyborg anthropologist, consultant, writer, and analyst from Portland, Oregon. You can contact her at caseorganic at gmail.com, or on Twitter at @caseorganic.

Hey! What Are You Doing!? | 10 Ways to Optimize Your Time and Increase Productivity

productivity-tips-email

Being a webworker is a fun but challenging task. It calls for dedication, focus and the ability to not get distracted by all of the distracting stuff out there on the web.

Since taking on the challenge of working for myself, I’ve learned a few things about being productive online. If you’re struggling with productivity, or thinking of taking your work online, you might like these tips. If applied correctly, they’ll save you a lot of wasted time. If you’re your own boss, it’s sometimes difficult to keep on track. And more time is what you can get from working for yourself. That time is time spent traveling, or with your spouse or kids, or with your friends.

1. Make a To-Do list Before Using Your Computer

Before even looking at your machine, sit down with an analog piece of paper and write down what you really need to do. Organize these tasks into categories, like “time” or “finance”. Organizing the tasks will allow you to do all of the tasks related to finance at the same time, instead of switching around to different tasks. Do the easiest tasks first, and allow only one or two minutes for each. Tackle the most difficult tasks after taking a short break, or break up the difficult tasks into small pieces and attack those similarly.

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2. Set a Time Limit

If you’re jumping on a task, set a time limit for yourself. Say, “I’m going to only work on this for 20 minutes. Let nothing else distract you for those 20 minutes. When the time is up At the end of 20 minutes see how much you’ve accomplished the task.

3. Don’t Try to Do More Than 2-3 Big Things Per Day

When I first considered starting a blog, I wanted to do everything in one day. I later realized that doing small things would be more feasible and stronger. If a beach is made of a trillion particles of sand, then a powerful web presence is the accumulation of millions of tiny actions, slowly building themselves into something over time.

4. Use Paper to Organize Your Thoughts

Before tackling a blog post or E-mail, use paper and pen to organize the main points you want to achieve. It will allow you to understand which pieces you’d like to cover, vs. which pieces are not.

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5. Don’t Multitask

This is probably the most difficult piece. Multitasking comes naturally, but at a cost: the more fragmented a task becomes, the longer it takes to get completed. Pick simple tasks and do them in one sitting. Resist the urge to check E-mail. If you get stuck, walk around the room without looking at the screen. Try to keep thought processes in the realm of the mind, instead of externalized in Google. This will help the brain to stay agile when faced with problems that take critical thinking to solve. The activation energy it takes to complete a task is often higher than grabbing a search in Google, or a quick look at news feeds, but keeping that analysis internally will help to complete a task in a short period of time.

6. Don’t Bite off More Than You Can Chew

Many projects seem exciting at first blush, but turn into dull chores when actually tackled. Even the smallest of tasks can balloon into enormous projects if not organized correctly. Simplify and clarify before taking on a new task. Make sure to point out key deliverables and communication points. This keeps information from falling through the cracks. Be wary of clients who do not fully communicate their needs or expect you to do multiple processes you are not comfortable with. Simply your deliverables into a cohesive, actionable timeline, and let the client understand what the touch points are.

7. Turn Off the Internet

Forcing yourself offline will push you to reconsider your task list and what you’re really trying to get done online. Use an offline E-mail app like Outlook for PC, or Mail.app for Mac and compose E-mails and drafts offline. Use a piece of paper or a text document to organize tasks that you plan to do when you go back online. At the end of the offline working period, turn on the Internet and send out E-mails in bulk. Look at your tasklist and begin accomplishing tasks that require Internet access without checking E-mail, Twitter, or news feeds. If you need specific answers, feel free to ask your social network, but do not dwell there reading feeds. This is a goal that requires a lot of restraint. Feeds are created to be addicting, and it is often difficult not to sink into the fast-flowing river of news.

8. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

While looking at what others are doing in your field good for informative or inspirational purposes, don’t dwell on what you’re doing in comparison to them. The Internet is a massive landscape, and it is okay to do things that aren’t as awesome as what other people are doing. If you’re not careful, comparing yourself to others can detract you from focusing on goals at hand. When it seems like every website or project has been completed in one day, reconsider. Success takes a while to accomplish, and the more you focus on your own goals, the more powerful you’ll become.

9. Check Your E-mail Twice a Day

Checking E-mail is one of the worst detractors from productivity.

10. Read the 4-Hour Workweek

Tim Ferriss might not be quite the master of what he preaches (I was told that he definitely works more than 4 hours a week), but he sure knows how to get things done and achieve his goals. If nothing else, his book is a great reference tool as well as an aid in creatively considering new avenues for innovation.

Tim’s ideas explain how to take normal tasks and compress the amount of time and space it takes to accomplish them. Although part of his book talks about outsourcing, the rest has a great deal of sound business advice that has really helped me out. And while it is often difficult not to constantly fragment my tasks and check my E-mail constantly, when I think before I act, the results are generally terrific. I highly recommend it.

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Get it: Paper Edition of the 4 Hour Workweek.

Or get this one: Kindle Edition of the 4-Hour Workweek.

Looking for more tips?

Last year, I interviewed Feroshia Knight of the Baraka Institute about how she stayed productive online. She related 5 tips that can be used offline as well.

Read Lifehacker’s Top 10 Productivity Basics Explained. It’s a great post full of useful tips, including how to employ and develop Ninja-like research skills.

Image Credits

1st image: petecarr
3rd image:  cijmyjune
2nd image: kompott

You can find many more here: FutureBuzz – 50 Stunning Creative Commons Flickr Photos.

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Amber Case is a Cyborg Anthropologist and New Media Consultant from Portland, Oregon. You can follow her online at @caseorganic