My Productivity Tracker: The Sims Chart

Today, at long last, I present to you one of my most ingenious inventions: The Sims Chart. This handy little badboy provides a visual representation of how well I'm doing at life over the course of any given week, and is my most valuable tool when it comes to assessing how I'm spending my energy. Over the years I have come across many of my most brilliant ideas by thinking about how I visualise things and figuring out how to translate that into something useful, and in this case I realised that I visualise how well I'm doing in different areas of my life as a light up bar like the ones they have in the Sims. If you have led a deprived life and are unfamiliar with this, basically they have a section of bars that measure how well or badly they're doing in different areas like social, hunger and energy and the better they're doing the more bars are lit up.

I don't personally have much need for an automated indicator as to whether or not I need to pee, but I do love the idea of being able to see how well I'm doing in different areas of my life at a glance, and thus the chart was born. The ultimate aim is that if you're on top of your game you'll have all the bars filled in, and if you're doing everything that's on the list of criteria you should have everything covered. It's a very efficient system if you set it up properly, so I thought I'd guide you through the process of creating your own.

1. Divide your life into key areas
The difficult thing about a Sims Chart is that it is completely different for everyone, so I can show you examples of what I have on mine but I can't tell you what to include in yours. Start off by writing down the different areas and activities you want to keep track of, which can be anything from 'Wellness' as a concept to how often you complete your daily to do lists. Mine usually include one section just for my blog (and a separate one for youtube when I'm actually making videos) and another one for writing overall. One for social to make sure I'm not becoming an actual hermit, and another to keep track of how well I'm taking care of myself. I made a chart for my friend Jake a few years ago and his was completely different to mine, so just go with whatever feels right. Your chart, your rules.

2. Pick which ones to use
Choose between 5 and 10 categories to run with. You might find that a few of the smaller ones can be mixed into one broader category, like combining diet and exercise into one health category, for example. Equally there might be one specific thing you want to make sure you do every day, so that can be a category on its own but I wouldn't recommend having too many of these. It's better to have fewer categories and more criteria within each category than trying to keep track of 20 different areas at once. You'll find some areas naturally overlap, so factor that in. Again this will vary completely from person to person; when I made Jake's he had a small number of categories with a few very specific ways to get his points, whereas I had a lot of categories and different ways to contribute.

3. Format your chart
This is actually very simple - just write your categories in a list format and draw ten rectangles next to each one. I have a template saved in a word file and used to print out my sheets individually when I had my criteria optimised for a two week cycle, but now that I'm traveling and working in one week cycles I find it more convenient to just draw them up weekly by hand in the notebook I use most often. Good for keeping them all in one place and also saves having to use up a bunch of loose paper.

4. Come up with your criteria
This is where it gets tricky because you have to start doing some very basic mathematics. I know. Bear with. Bottom line: it needs to be possible for you to feasibly fill in all the bubbles in the week or fortnight you're working with, and if you have filled in all the bubbles you should have completed everything in that area that you need to. The aim of this is for a full ten bars to be achievable with effort, not to overstretch yourself, so it's better to start simple and build up. To start off I'd suggest working in cycles of a fortnight, so you're aiming to have everything filled up at the end of two weeks instead of one while you're getting used to the concept, though the criteria I've shown below are based on a one week chart. Steer away from anything that would mean missing one day ruins your entire row. I generally leave room for me to miss one or two days and still get full bars. The only exception to this is my To Do section, because I need that to literally see how many days I've missed. 

It's also fine for one activity to score you points in more than one category, but try to minimise this. For example writing a blog post gets me points in both the Blog and Writing sections, and writing in a journal gets points in Writing and Wellness, but the point pay off is weighed differently and if I ever find there are too may crossovers I'll usually just combine some categories. Scale how many points you get for each task based on how much effort (physically, mentally, time-wise) they'll take. For instance I get more points for meeting up with friends than going on a date with Will because that takes more effort. I get 2 points for each blog post that goes live, and one additional point for every post I finish and schedule ahead of time. You can also have things you score in batches, for example I get one point for every two times I use Headspace or write in a journal, and I score my instagram content based on full weeks rather than individual posts.

5. Add extra daily tasks to the bottom
I have a small list at the bottom of my week of things I should ideally do each day, like whether or not I stick to my routine, meditate, journal, do vocal exercises, finish my to do list etc. This is helpful when you're looking back to fill in boxes, and also just to keep track of things individually in a format you can see. I don't generally keep a log of what I've filled in boxes for because my memory is prolific and I'm also overly confident about my ability to pick up where I left off, but when you're starting out it may also be helpful to keep a note of this as well.

6. Test it out, reevaluate and adjust
Keep it somewhere you can see it regularly and will remember to fill in every day. If you want to get really crazy you can go deep and make a plan figuring out what you need to get done every day, every 3 days etc. in order to fill your bars. This, however, is excessive and although I'm pretty sure I've done it at some point it is not a necessary step for the chart to work. In terms of testing it out, run a full cycle, see how it works and then adjust; you can take away categories, add criteria, shake up the time frame, whatever works. Keep adjusting as and when it's necessary, for instance if you're studying then it may be different in term time than holidays, or you may find like I did at one point that you completely stop caring about your social life and can just remove that category altogether. 

There you have it, my sweet children. My most precious creation. It's so helpful for keeping me on track and seeing where I need to improve, and if I'm freaking out because I don't feel like I've done what I should have in one area I can literally see where I've used that energy instead and feel a bit better. I also find it helpful to look back on if I'm having trouble switching off at the end of the week. Let me know if you try it out, and I will let you know if I come up with any ways to make it more elaborate. Tbh it's pretty perf already though, so don't hold your breath on that one.
Also if you have any systems like this please let me know because I am always up for more organisation.
Luv ya and leave ya, many blessinz, x0x0.