Gamification works. Last week I hacked together a Grafana dashboard to measure the number of emails in my inbox and sure enough this gave me enough motivation to actually go through them. Earlier this week I added another metric to track the average age of an email and sure enough that caused me to go through the 4 and 5 year old emails.
It’s quite amazing how the human mind (or at least mine) works. I’ve known for years that I have some very old emails floating around and I also know that I have too many emails in my inbox and yet having it visualized motivated me to actually do something. It’s difficult to be introspective but I suspect the biggest factor was the quick feedback loop and knowing that by spending a bit of time I can quickly see the impact on the metrics.
The lesson here is to measure everything you want to improve, visualize it, and make looking at them a daily habit. Your human psychology will take over and you’ll start optimizing against those goals.