Misguided metrics

Posted on Fri 22 April 2016 in Life • 1 min read

Few months ago, I set myself a goal of number of words written every day; a quantifiable target for every day. Every day I miss the target, the debt increases for next day. There’s a punishment if the debt goes beyond a limit.

This got me into a nice writing rhythm, with a forcing function of course :).

Arun's writing progress

One fine day, I mustered the courage to share the writings with a friend. He was not impressed at all. Rather gently opined that my writing has regressed. It had become wordy, unclear and lacked a sense of flow.

Number of words per day got me into the habit of writing. Great. However I rewarded myself for length of writing unconsciously, instead of qualitative attributes like clarity, conciseness etc..

Metrics drive action. Actions forge habit. We ought to be careful what habit is forming!

This year I’m experimenting with a reduced “number of words” goal; the daily count is half of last year’s goal. With the word count easily attainable, we can review the article quality before calling it done for the day.

Let’s see how it goes.