About CountMyDays.com

In this page:

  1. Inspiration.
  2. Can I contact you?
  3. Why count days?
  4. About these estimates.
  5. Survivability and the day count.
  6. Alternatives.
  7. Recommendations.
  8. Guiding principles.
  9. Roadmap.

Inspiration

I read an article about game developer Chris Crawford's work, and the article opened with a description of Crawford's death counter:

Chris Crawford owns two jars. One is filled with the beads that represent his past, and the other is filled with the beads that represent his potential future.

Every morning, Crawford takes a bead from the jar that holds his future days and places it into the jar that holds the past. While he performs the ritual he tells himself not to waste the day.

This routine reminds him that life is finite. Each jar represents how much life Crawford has already lived, and offers an approximation of how many days he might have left.

Simon Parkin
I thought, "Wow, what a good idea!" I immediately went about making my own version, a panel of printed numbers that I updated manually every day. But it was too easy for me to forget to do it, and so I'd end up completely ignoring the fact that time was marching on. Having an electronic version makes the most sense for me.

Can I contact you?

You can reach me at:  

Why count days?

Because I track progress in days, and I think it's the smallest unit of time within which we can actually achieve something decent. It's totally feasible to look at my countdown every morning and say, "I will do one worthwhile and important thing today." I can't look at a countdown of hours and say the same.

About these estimates

This site uses the Australian Government Actuary's Australian Life Tables 201012, specifically the male dataset.

I considered adding options for different genders and different countries and blah blah, but I eventually decided that it was pointless busywork. The point of this site is not to strive for statistical accuracy, but to enforce two ideas:

  1. Time is passing inexorably.
  2. You need to take care of business while you still can.

If you're an American male, you have about 3 years fewer. If you're an Australian female, you've got about 8 years more. Either way, don't fixate on the numbers. Fixate on what's important.


Survivability and the day count

If you do the maths, you'll find that the site is showing you fewer days than there actually exist between now and your projected date of death. This is because I am using survivability to scale the figure down. At age 30, for example, the probability of surviving to turn 31 is 0.999174, so the probability of dying before turning 31 is 0.000826. So I remove 0.0826% of the remaining seconds you have left, and do my calculations from that.

This means that 'death pressure' goes up as you get older, but fear not! In this dataset, survivability is >99.0% until you turn 65, and it only drops to 75.0% at the age of 95.


Alternatives

You might not really like counting days. Maybe you want to count weeks or hours. Or maybe you want a different, more interactive tool? Here are some I know of:
  1. Death Calendar — A digital calendar in the form of a grid of squares. Each square is one week, each row of squares is one year, and there are 80 years. The squares fill in as the weeks progress, and you end up with an advancing front of black boxes, like a fog swallowing you up. Spooky! Use it the same way as you use this website: Provide your birth date, then set the resulting page as your homepage.

Recommendations

  • Cultivate some sort of ritual around the countdown. When you see it for the first time in the morning, just reflect for a few seconds on the most important thing you want to do today. It should be important to you. Don't think of the presentation you've got to make at today's meeting. Think of a personal project, or seeing a friend, or taking some time to relax.
  • I absolutely think that everyone should journal. I took it up after finding redditor buddy-cyborg's post about how they approach journalling. It gives me the time and space to just think about what has happened lately, and it lets me look back on previous weeks and months and get an overview of how I'm doing. Extremely helpful, especially for knowledge workers and creatives.
  • The 'Non-Zero Day' subreddit is fantastic. I like how the philosophy encourages you to be kind to yourself, which I think a lot of people have trouble doing.

Guiding principles

  • The countdown page should load as quickly as possible so that it doesn't get in the user's way.
  • No user login should be required.

Roadmap

  • I'd like to have the option for users to add a short message to their countdown clocks.
  • Random motivational quotes would be nice, like stuff from Aurelius' Meditations.