Every time I hear about IfThisThenThat
I get briefly excited; similarly with respect to pjf
... and then I remember that they work with computer-based events, not with, for what of better terminology, embodied events.BeeMinder
to some extent try to do this: rewards for keeping up with "habit-forming" and "goals", with penalties for falling behind. Lots of other places do this kind of thing, too: Codecademy I stopped using at the point at which they presented you with a great big "you've coded X days in a row" wossname you couldn't get rid of; sophie
wrote a Greasemonkey script to hide the equivalent on Github; and so on. The reason these fundamentally don't work for me is, of course, that I'm chronically ill in ways that mean (1) the model of "do the thing every day without fail" is frequently actively harmful to me, and (2) the incentives to modify behaviour this way often override my sense of self-preservation, such that I either do things I really shouldn't be
, or I feel awful for not doing them.RememberTheMilk
also isn't right for me. SuperBetter
is the closest thing I've met to what I need - repeating tasks to be done at one's own pace, accumulating points & levelling up & such for doing them, without negative effects for needing to take some damn time off
This is the reality of my chronic illnesses: I stopped brushing my hair every day when my depression got proper bad back in 2011, and I haven't managed to restart. My hair is waist-length. Dealing with my hair when it has gone unbrushed for a week is unpleasant and time-consuming. Living with the sensory distress caused by my hair being a mess is unpleasant. And it is still sometimes the case that my decision-making ability is so fucked that I need to conserve it for more important things
, like eating
or doing my dayjob
. (Much as one can have tea spoons and table spoons and dessert spoons, I find I have social spoons and walking spoons and decision-making spoons.) (There is a post I am going to write, one day, about intimacies: about what it means to me that That One Lady likes to brush my hair and I will let her; about what it means to me to glance up from across the room and realise That One Gent is casually using my wheelchair as a footrest. This is not that post.)
It does not just apply to hair, where the issues range from "motivation" to "energy" to "my hands are too fucked" (if I can do a limited number of tasks that require repetitive hand motions, brushing my teeth is higher up the list than brushing my hair). It covers everything: from getting out of bed to showering to physio to, as I say, eating regular meals.
And what none
of these things I have mentioned actually do - a thing I really, really want - is externalise the decision-making, the executive-function, part of the process, to remove at least the entry-barrier of "I can't remember how to". Yes, it's possible to write up long-hand notes about how to brush my hair or have a shower and stick them up somewhere that I can see them - but that doesn't have the granularity I need. What I'd really, really like is something that'll prompt me:
--> get out of bed
--> you've got out of bed! great! Next: brush your teeth. (Tell Me More)
--> you've brushed your teeth! great! Next: have a shower. [Tell Me More]
---> turn the lights on
---> is there a towel in the bathroom? If yes, continue. If not, fetch one from bedroom.
---> make shower curtain be in the right place (Tell Me More)
---> get into bath
---> turn on water flow
---> etc etc etc.
I don't know of anything quite like this that exists - that does "if this, then that" for daily routines where the concept of "habit-building" is fundamentally incompatible with how some brains work (I can forget how to shower
, okay, that is something I have done unsupervised most days for about 15 years). I don't know how I'd make this work with the tech I have; I suspect if I decide to write it I'll end up with a smart device of some description. I don't know quite how to deal with respectful reminders (i.e. things that won't just make me hide from the device) -- but damn
if I could get that kind of care without having to take up another human's time and energy I'd be all over it.