Category Archives: Blogging

New Year’s resolutions – Thoughts after 3 years

For the last three years I have set goals/resolutions/targets at the start of each year. I have surprised myself as I managed to complete more than I expected. Maybe because I have not aimed very high.

So what are the benefits of setting New Year’s resolutions?

bicycle leaning on a fence

My old bike parked for a morning tea break while on a longer ride as a part of the cycling goal.

Well the first is that each goal has a life of just one year at most. So, I have not made any commitment beyond that and this takes some pressure off. I decided to read a book each fortnight a couple of years ago. I no longer feel compelled to do that now. However those twelve months were long enough for me to see the effects and to form a habit. While I no longer feel compelled to read I have continued reading regularly. The defined time limit appeals to me as I like the idea of dividing life into phases.

Another benefit is that once I have those tasks on the list that need to be done, such as house maintenance then I don’t feel guilty about not doing more later that year. The problem with house maintenance is that it is never ending. So the goal is as much about limiting the amount of work on the house as it is about getting tasks complete.

Previous successfully completed goals

Some goals I successfully completed over the last few years are:

  • Renovate the bathroom
  • Start a blog
  • Pave a small pergola area
  • Install solar electricity and solar hot water systems (not a lot of work needed by me on these ones)
  • Start cycling again and go on at least one 16km ride each week
  • Read 26 books in a year

Funny, they were much more impressive in my mind than they now look written down. There was lots of minor stuff too so perhaps that’s ok.

The downside?

They don’t all get done. In fact I don’t seem to be able to complete more than one or maybe two larger goals per year. It is usually the most important ones that I start at the beginning of the year that succeed. Those that I plan to complete at the end of the year have the worst chance of success – possibly because I no longer see their importance or feel committed to them by then. It’s interesting that many of the minor ones were never achieved.

It’s easy to feel guilty about failure to complete goals.

Twelve months is a long time and life is short. Pushing myself to maintain a commitment to an activity for twelve months does not always seem worth it.

Opportunities that come along during the year such as the Computing MOOC that I am now doing can feel like distractions, when it is actually a great opportunity. In fact some of the things I have pleased that I have done where not on a goal list.

So what about next year?

I’m going to start next year with only one goal to do some maintenance on our kitchen. I am deliberately not setting any others. I’m going to see what happens if I don’t set any. I was inspired by this video on zenhabits, Tim Ferriss vs. Leo Babauta Showdown: On Whether Goals Suck.

I think life at my day job is going to be quite challenging next year, so I want to keep the stress levels down.

Will I end up achieving as much or even more at home? Or, being happier? I’m looking forward to testing it.

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Blog stats: Motivation for bloggers

I follow a few blogs and some that I follow such as Mr Money Mustache, I do so not just for the great free information they provide, but also for motivation I absorb. One of the reasons I started this blog was for motivation. I wanted to do some writing and I thought that creating a blog would provide me with motivation to continue.

A great feature of WordPress.com and I expect it is similar with other blogging tools and services is that you are provided with a series of stats showing visitor interaction with your site. These stats have really provided me with motivation. Before you get too concerned about privacy let me say that there is no personal data, I can’t even see IP addresses. So what do I see?

Views at a glance

Bar graph showing total views per day

This table shows the number of hits over a period. The default is hits per day as shown in this image. Obviously if the blog was even moderately successful the scale on the left would run much higher than merely six views.

Views by country

Views by country graphic

The inclusion of this information was a surprise to me. A map of the world shows the countries that hits originated from for today, yesterday or summaries for earlier periods.

Search engine terms

A list of todays search engine terms used to find and access posts

You may be a bit surprised that a blog owner can see the search terms that visitors have entered in a search engine to navigate to this site. Remember that I cannot see any details of the visitor and at most if this site has only one hit per day I can assume it was from the country listed in the views by country. Apparently some search engines do not reveal the term due to privacy reasons, so it is not always available.

What is great about this feature is that I can see what people are looking for and that can guide me on what topics it may be worthwhile on following up on.

Top posts

A list of the Todays most popular posts

This shows the top posts and how many views each have. Again, this one is useful as it shows what readers are interested in.

Clicks

Clicks made today to pages within this blog

It’s hard to tell if someone came to a page from a search engine and then leaves after a quick glance at that page rather than actually reading it, after all I do that a lot when I’m surfing. The clicks shows what readers are clicking on once they are at the blog, so this can be used to indicate interest.

My own page views are not recorded – at least not if I’m logged in. I do a lot of clicking about checking things and with such a small number of page views I get that would drastically skew the stats.

Other stats

There are a few other stats but they are not as interesting and perhaps there are others that I have not found yet.

There are other ways to gauge interest in a blog. One is the number of followers the blog has and there is a stat for that, but I don’t have any followers yet. The other way is comments. I’m not too concerned about getting lots of comments. At the moment I’m quite content just to see the occasional visitor.

WordPress has provided more information in their support page about stats.

Why I like it

You may be surprised at just how much excitement I get just by seeing that there has been a single page view. It’s often enough to make me feel that it has been worth writing that post even though it may have taken a few hours to write.

While the hits are few and followers nonexistent, the availability of stats is enough for me to recommend having a blog for anyone who enjoys writing or wants to improve their writing skills.

Piffle Lab blog equal leader in smallest readership

graph showing 0 page views

When I started researching blogs I read somewhere that no one will read it. That’s right, no one will read it. I misunderstood this to mean that there would be very few page views, but there would of course be a few people who at least landed on a page unintentionally as the result of a poorly written Google query. Well it has been almost four weeks since I started this blog and other than my wife who I asked for guidance, there has not been a single page view… on any page. In fact if you are reading this post and it’s not too long after the post date it is likely that you are the first visitor to the blog.

It makes me think that people are just not interested in piffle.

I guess one of the benefits of Facebook and other social media sites is that they attempt to not only find people that you are interested in but also actively market you to other people that you may know. The downside for me is that most of the people I know are not really interested in the things that I am and so in this case Facebook’s marketing is not well targeted. There are other reasons I chose to start a blog over using Facebook, the primary one that I prefer blogs but it looks like it is going to be much harder than I had expected.

So the challenge is set. I must do what I can to get a single page view, even it means expanding to include drivel, waffle, twaddle and poppycock.

Update: Woohoo! Just after four weeks this blog had it’s first hit. It came from Malaysia and the person was looking for Excel Tic Tac Toe. It has confirmed by belief that Excel is fun.