>_ Streaks

Streaks are a powerful technique for developers to increase user retention and engagement. For example, Snapchat shows you the number of consecutive days you’ve been exchanging messages with a friend and rewards you with special emojis the longer you manage to keep the streak alive.

The user’s urge to continue the streak doesn’t really come from the positive rewards though, but is mainly based on negative reinforcement, namely the fear of losing the streak. This behaviour can be attributed to the “Sunk Cost Effect”, which describes our reluctance to pull out of something we have put effort into.

There has been a lot of criticism lately about negative reinforcement loops and gamification techniques that make apps more addictive – especially when used by services or games which are primarily used by kids/teens.

But streaks can also be extremely helpful when used in the context of self-improvement because they help to build habits.

I currently use three tools that use streaks which help me to build (and maintain) habits and be more productive:

Headspace
Headspace will show you the number of consecutive days you’ve been meditating. Making meditation a daily habit has been super difficult for me and the streaks have definitely helped. I wish they were more public though to add some social pressure.

Swarm
This one might be a little suprising to some of you, because most people just use Swarm as a life logging tool to remember which places the have visited. Swarm introduced streaks a while ago, but I’m not sure how many people use it build habits. I use to make sure I go for a swim at least once per week. I am currently at week 73 and counting 💪.

WIP Chat
WIP is a community of makers and a public to-do list at the same time. Apart from the negative reinforcement (losing the streak), it also adds a lot of positive reinforcement in form of the encouragement from other makers in the community. WIP is one of the best products I’ve started using recently and has definitely helped me to be more productive. Great job, Marc! 👏

>_ Notes on Budapest

I spent 14 days in Budapest this October.
Here are a few notes and thoughts:

  • Budapest is a lot more modern and Western than I expected. Especially the city center is very similar to Vienna.

  • This also applies to the cost of living, which was not as cheap as I had hoped. Airbnb’s are quite cheap (~€30-40/night for an apartment in the city center). A good cup of coffee will cost you roughly €2.5. An average restaurant meal is about €10. Coworking spaces were surprisingly expensive, ranging from €10-18 for a day pass.
  • To be fair though, most coworking spaces offer trial-days, so in theory you could probably work for free for almost a week just by visiting a different space each day. During my stay I worked from Impact Hub, KAPTÁR, LOFFICE, KUBIK and Mosaik. LOFFICE is probably the nicest space, but also the most expensive. My overall favourite was KAPTÁR: Open from 8:00 – 20:00, super nice staff + community, and they have standing desks.

  • In addition to co-working spaces, you can also work from most coffee shops. People are super relaxed about you bringing a laptop and working for a while and there’s free WiFi everywhere. The Magvető Cafe was particularly nice for laptopping.
  • Also: A lot of these places offer really good, third-wave-ish coffee. If I had to recommend one, it would be Espresso Embassy.

  • As a flexitarian who hardly eats meat, I was a little concerned about the availability of vegetarian food in Budapest (Eastern European cuisine tends to be quite meat-heavy). To my surprise there were a lot of Jewish /Mediterranean restaurants, of which I can especially recommend DOMBRUMBA and Mazel Tov.
  • Transportation: I already wrote a few words on how awesome Budapest’s metro system is. Uber has unfortunately been banned (for the usual technophobic reasons in Europe). Taxify is a pretty solid alternative though.

  • As an avid swimmer, one of my metrics for quality of life is availability of swimming pools. I’ll give Budapest a 10/10 here. The Hajós Alfréd Nemzeti Sportuszoda is amazing (50m heated outdoor pool!); you should also make sure to visit one of the city’s thermal baths.