loading...
Cover image for Thirty Green Squares

Thirty Green Squares

deciduously profile image Ben Lovy ・2 min read

I just got my 30th consecutive GitHub square! While it doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things, sustained motivation is tricky for me. I'll take my little victory, thanksverymuch.

I hadn't set this as a specific goal, which I think was the trick here. I tend to fail miserably when trying to do challenges like this up front. I just had a bunch of stuff to work on last month, I guess.

I've noticed in general you can sorta-kinda get a birds-eye overview of my overall mental health over time by looking at my GitHub squares. When I'm not doing so great, I stop producing, and vice versa.

2018 went pretty well:

2018

2019, pile o' "meh" with a few punctuation marks:

2019

2018 was better, but none of those blocks ever hit thirty straight days - I think I maxed out at 27 in July-ish.

My day job got (and stayed) significantly more stressful all at once around early Dec 2018, and it took me a long time to stabilize from that. Even after April I kept stumbling. I've also been in school for all of 2019, but I don't think that's been a huge factor in terms of time management. Even when busy, when I'm my best self I always make time to work with code. If I'm not making commits, it means I'm letting all my energy pour out to the non-technical rest of my life and have nothing left over for creating. Perhaps that's not a groundbreaking observation, but I like what it says about this month - I've never managed to streak this long before, and it was a busy month outside of my text editor too. That's gotta be a good sign!

I like that GitHub makes me look at these streaks and lapses for a whole year. Getting your square for the day doesn't necessarily mean you did something impressive, it just means you did something. And in those rougher periods, sometimes that's enough.

Discussion

pic
Editor guide
Collapse
thefluxapex profile image
Ian Pride

Congrats man. I must not being doing well in the mental health area lol I had a big break from committing anything for a few months; although, I was coding.
Hopes this makes you feel a little better about yourself:
Git Squares

Collapse
deciduously profile image
Ben Lovy Author

Well, GitHub is a very imperfect measure of productivity! It happens to work for me pretty well because I use it as a go-between for all my code so I can work from home or my office, even small insignificant stuff. I get a square for nearly everything I write, including assigned homework. If it's incomplete I do try to keep it in a separate branch, and I think you only get the square for commits to master, but I still probably have some inflated numbers for actually measuring useful output here.

Collapse
thefluxapex profile image
Ian Pride

Yeah, I get that. I have probably produced 100000 times (exaggeration maybe?) that in code over the last 20+ years & 90% of it has never touched the internet & especially not in a repo. Although I did used to make a living at it I'm now a proud stay at home dad who still codes daily to actually help my mental health as I am moderately OCD mixed with extreme anxiety and coding makes me feel awesome. It really has helped me to cope for a very long time. Most code I write is really for myself. Especially so I don't have to depend on other peoples software and I'm just a DYI type of guy.

Thread Thread
deciduously profile image
Ben Lovy Author

+1 for coding as an anxiety coping mechanism. I play a little of the anxiety game too and super strongly typed things like Rust and Haskell calm me down. You get to really have control of something structured, and the compiler's got you, you can't do anything too wrong :)

I'm glad it helps you, too!

Collapse
maroun_baydoun profile image
Maroun Baydoun

Nice article. I had never even considered those green blocks as anything more than a cool add-on on GitHub. It's amazing to see them now as a coping mechanism. It makes me wonder what were GitHub's assumptions when they introduced that feature.

Collapse
leob profile image
leob

Congrats :-)

Collapse
juancarlospaco profile image
Juan Carlos

I do not think it is a good metric to take seriously whatsoever,
mainly for quality of life of the person doing it.

Collapse
deciduously profile image
Ben Lovy Author

It will necessarily be different for everyone - for me it just signifies consistency. It depends what you're working on improving.

Collapse
angelarae63 profile image
Angela Whisnant

Nice! As a person with bipolar, I can relate! My disorder can reek havoc on my productivity. Kudos!

Collapse
deciduously profile image
Ben Lovy Author

Bit of a cycle, too - not working makes it worse, and working makes it better. Forming the habit is the trick!

Kudos right back.