13 Sep

I’m addicted to vanity metrics

I have a problem. I am addicted to checking vanity metrics. Leading up to my book launch I would refresh my email newsletter subscriber count as many as 20 times per day. I had a couple popular blog posts driving traffic, so the count would go up by a couple people each time I checked it. Now this number doesn’t even represent money made, just people who had signed up to hear when my book launched. So why check it so often?

Well, that’s not the only thing. I would also check traffic stats and RSS subscriber counts many times a day. Often leaving the realtime view in Google Analytics open on my other monitor. Just because I thought it was so great that 100 people were on my site right now.

That’s not all. I’m even talking about purely useless numbers like how many new people followed my Twitter account and if any friends liked my witty status update on Facebook.

But data is good right? We should be tracking all of stats to better understand our business, our customers, and our own weak points. I’ve even heard you should  build a startup dashboard that pulls all your most important metrics into a single place. This sounds good, just don’t let it paralyze you.

Success Paralysis

When the book launch was a wild success last week I became completely paralyzed. Between checking the traffic stats, to refreshing my sales numbers in Gumroad, to checking my subscriber count in Feedburner, I couldn’t do any real work. A friend joked “Nathan used to be productive, but then he had small success and can’t stop hitting the refresh button.” That’s funny, but really not.

I used to hate that the App Store sales aren’t realtime, but instead published once per day. Now I realize that is a wonderful thing since I know that I can only check them once per day. I wish there was a way to force all my stats programs to only update once per day.

A Solution?

Earlier this year I wrote about creating and consuming on different devices. An idea that I talked about, but never forced myself to do. So now I am adding this to my hosts file on my Mac:

127.0.0.1 appannie.com
127.0.0.1 gumroad.com
127.0.0.1 www.google.com/analytics
127.0.0.1 twitter.com
127.0.0.1 feedburner.google.com
127.0.0.1 freshbooks.com
127.0.0.1 news.ycombinator.com
127.0.0.1 www.facebook.com

Quite simply what it does is tell my computer that all those domain names reside on my local machine. Effectively blocking my access to them. If I visit any of those sites my browser redirects to a message telling me to get back to work.

Sure, I can remove any of these fairly easy, but it should be a quick reminder to keep me on track. From now on my Mac is for creating content. If I need to check my statistics, that’s why I have an iPad. This isn’t a complete solution, I really need to train myself to focus more on creating, but it is the first step in getting rid of this paralyzing addiction.

Now to just solve the email problem.

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3 Responses to “I’m addicted to vanity metrics”

  1. For email use inbox pause: http://inboxpause.com/ it worked wonders for myself.


  2. Thanks a pretty crazy way of forcing you to stop checking those sites. I should do something similar, I see myself wasting time on things I shouldn’t be.


  3. Anderson Santos says:

    Hi ! You should try selfcontrolapp.com ! Its a free app that prevent you from visiting sites… and once you set it up it can not be undone!


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