I've Been Documenting My Life Through Gifs For The Past Year

Dec 29, 2015

EDITORS NOTE: The following is a guest post by my old co-founder and good friend, Jon Wheatley

Every day for the past year, at around the same time, I’ve been making a gif of whatever is in front of me. You can view them all here.

I’ve always been fascinated with documenting my life in different ways. My last company, DailyBooth, was based around this concept. Every day users would post a selfie with a short status update. Over time this built up a very interesting and accurate view of someone’s life.

This gif-everyday-project was originally inspired by my co-founder, Marshall. When we first started Need/Want he was already 4 years deep into posting a picture every day. He was inspired by Buster Benson, who’s been doing it even longer.

Why is this valuable?

It has become a digital backup of my memory.

Being able to look back at any day for the past year, and see a short 1 second clip of what I was doing on that day, is enough to trigger and activate memories I didn’t know I had. Often times it’s easy to remember how I was feeling and what I was doing before and after. It’s pretty incredible. Doing this has greatly improved my memory.

It has made my life more interesting.

There have been a few occasions where for too many days in a row I’ve noticed myself being very unproductive and lazy. It’s like having someone hold up a mirror showing you a macro view of how you’re living your life.

Doing this provides an easy way of making sure I’m living my life the way I want to live it. It holds me accountable.

You can see how your life changes over time.

The individual posts are rarely that interesting, but over time you start to build up a very accurate picture of the “phases” your life is made up of. If you look at my previous year for example, you can see how much things have changed.

You can see when we were all working late right before a big product launch. You can see the changes in the different seasons and what effects that have on my habits. You can see when I started trying to eat and live more healthily. You can see how much my life changed after I moved in with my girlfriend, Victoria.

Without documenting my life in this way, these changes would have probably gone by unnoticed because it’s very hard to see the bigger picture when you’re living in it.

It’s amazingly satisfying!

I love that I have the whole of 2015 documented. I’m proud of it. I plan on continuing to do this in one form or another for the rest of my life. I look forward to the day when I can sit down with my future children and show them glimpses into what my life was like before they were born.

You should do it too.

If this is something that sounds interesting to you, then I urge you to start in 2016. Next year when you have 365 little gifs that make up a picture of your year, you’ll be very happy.

Plus, doing it with other people is more fun.

This is the same moment from me, Marshall and David.

My Workflow

I use an app called Giffer ($0.99) to make the gif, then post the gif to tumblr. I use this theme ($49) but any theme will do. I have an alarm set for 8:36pm that goes off every day to remind me.

Total cost to do this: $49.99.

Why 8:36pm

The time may seem arbitrary, but there is some logic behind it. If it were any earlier my feed would mostly be me working at my desk in the office. If it were any later, I’d mostly be at home or in bed. 8:36pm was the happy medium. This time was originally picked by Buster Benson and has since been embraced by a community of people doing similar projects.

Personally, I don’t use this as a hard rule. If I’m doing something interesting (and I remember) before 8:36pm, I’ll make a gif and post it. When the alarm goes off, it’s a nice reminder that I need to post something, and I’ll just default to whatever I’m doing at that moment if I haven’t posted one already.

If you decide to do this in 2016, please send me a link so I can follow along.
If you found this post interesting, you can follow me on twitter and Instagram.

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December 21, 2015
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