Committing to working 2 hours at a certain time


#1

Hi everybody, new user here. I’m currently experimenting with one goal, to lose weight, as a continuation of an existing (and fairly successful) program.

My real goal is rather different. I would like to ask your collective opinion on the feasibility of forming a new habit by doing two hours of intensive work at a particular time, using Beeminder and (tentatively) RescueTime.

I work as a freelancer from home and so far have been pretty successful, earning multiples of the median income. The problem is that my deadlines tend to be midnight of each day, and I have a tendency to stuff all my work into the last few hours of those days.

Usually the first couple of hours of the day (from when I get up before 07:00 to around 09:00) are spent talking to clients in different time zones by email, discussing project deadlines and content. During that time I am focused. I answer emails and respond to requests and queries very quickly and methodically, which my clients really like.

However. After that I tend to drift, and typically I get very little done in the morning. I futz around in internet forums, read news, that sort of thing. If I’m not careful, I am likely to drift in the early afternoon as well.

Obviously this puts me under more pressure than is strictly necessary in the second half of the day as I scramble to hit deadlines. I also feel that I could earn significantly more money if I just buckled down to it, for example, for two hours from 09:30 to 11:30 every day, in addition to late evening, when I am usually working.

I should clarify that I do not have a problem actually hitting deadlines: I do hit them. If I didn’t, my clients would not use me. It’s the manner in which I do it that is the issue, and the desire to be more efficient.

I already subscribe to RescueTime and I do find it useful, but I wonder if it’s possible to integrate it using Beeminder so that time spent doing certain things is reported automatically, and used for a Beeminder goal. I would be willing to consider using something other than or in addition to RescueTime (EDIT such as IFTTT ), and I would be willing to consider paying for custom goals in Beeminder if that is what it takes.

Any pointers or suggestions gratefully received!


#2

I am not sure if attempting to answer my own question is a netiquette faux pas or not, but here goes.

Having spent an hour or two - more procrastination! - investigating this, it is beginning to look as if creating an IFTTT applet that makes use of the Beeminder.addData.setDatapointValue() function to pass the duration of a RescueTime focus session might work, with a filter to only allow the applet trigger to fire between (say) 06:00 and 11:59.

Is there any documentation on this? I am wary of just charging in there because the automated creation of goals in Beeminder while debugging could rapidly become, ah, expensive. For one thing, I don’t understand the datapoint value to which Beeminder.addData.setDatapointValue() refers. Would this be a value for a specific day? If so, and if two focus sessions run every morning - maybe one hour-long session starting at 9:00 and another 60-minuter at 10:30, how do I cumulate the value in the Beeminder goal?

I think this is heading now into @dreev territory, given that the Beeminder IFTTT service is presumably created and maintained by Beeminder personnel…


#3

I can’t answer all of these, but I can answer a few of them.

  1. You won’t have to pay for derailing on a test goal.

  2. I know at least one other person has done filters using IFTTT and their javascripty filter functionality here on the forum, but I can’t find it at the moment.

  3. The way that multiple data points accumulate in a single goal is referred to as the “aggday”. There are a variety of options, like sum (which adds them all up) or last (which only takes the last datapoint of the day. If you have (some levels of?) premium, you can switch your aggdays by yourself.


#4

The obvious suggestion would be to stagger your Beeminder deadlines throughout the day, so that ‘midnight’ happens sooner.

Downsides (for me, anyway) are that the date associated with a datapoint is the goal’s idea of day rather than the calendar date, and that the deadlines might be at less-memorable times of day.

I’ve got a bunch of goals that have a noon deadline, because that I can remember… :slight_smile:

Some people have had success with using ‘before lunch’ as a marker, not letting themselves eat lunch until their ‘morning’ goals are out of the red.


#5

Quite the opposite! Thank you! Like @adamwolf says, we definitely won’t let you be charged for a test goal (just reply to the legit checks and reference this forum thread) and we’re super grateful for your experimentation and sharing the progress on this! Sorry I don’t have definitive answers about the guts of all this right now.


#6

You can set up RescueTime goals (within RT that is) to track how often you manage to do something like “2 hours of productive work in the morning”, and then use IFTTT to send the successes to a Beeminder goal so you aim to hit the RT goal several times a week.

I have several different RT goals set up:

  • do x amount of productive work in a day
  • do y amount of very productive work in a day (y<x so I hit this goal faster if I concentrate on doing the really important stuff)
  • do z amount of productive work in the afternoon (z<x, kind of a backstop goal for when the first two are too hard and also as I tend to drift off topic in the afternoons I want extra credit for when I stay on task)

Then I have a beeminder goal that takes the success ping from any of them (via IFTTT) so I make sure I hit them numerous times each week (not sure how many offhand but it’s definitely closer to 5 than 15, hitting one a day is usually an improvement on my non-beeminded work state, I like setting it so that I feel could take every afternoon off if I concentrated properly in the mornings)

Beeminder has totally made me believe that the power of setting out very low hurdles and then keeping on jumping them is much greater than the power of setting yourself a huge wall to climb over. (I think that metaphor might have gone a bit wonky but I hope you get my point.)