Gamification as a way of self-reward and motivation can be great, especially for people like me that are lazy.
Being able to see that something that you did gave you points, badges or similar can help in keeping high the motivation to continue with a project.
Today I want to talk about Github contributions and why I think it's a useful 'gamification' tool but why you should also avoid getting too caught up with chasing a streak.
As you can see the image below, I finally reached 2000 contributions in the last year on Github, distributed evenly between my time at the office and my time at home working on my blog and side projects (sadly not much Open Source contributions yet).
Since late August I've been on an almost perfect streak until I purposely decided to not push it too far and take a full day off.
Chasing the 'green squares' as a way of self-motivation helped me to continue working on my side projects but it had reached a point where I felt like I was coding just to get that square green and not really for the project itself.
I got too caught up in chasing the streak that I forgot the whole reason I started it.
The whole point of this short post is that I think trying to get a streak is a good thing but don't let it become your goal. I would emphasize the word trying, do your best to find some time throughout your day to work on side projects/open source and don't worry too much about your stats on Github.
The day I broke my streak on Github I did it purposely because I wanted to tell myself that I wasn't trying to chase a long streak, because I know that it would have been harder breaking it after 3 or 6 months.
Now when I look at one those green squares I know I did something useful towards one of my projects and not simply opening a Github issue with the title 'Fix stuff' (oh yeah I actually did that once) just because I wanted to keep the streak going.
What are your thoughts on chasing a streak on Github? Are you trying to get one, to keep the current one alive or you simply don't care?