Deadlines and Habits


I have been using beeminder for ~1 year and I am still trying to figure out effective use under certain situations.

Suppose I want to develop the habit of studying 2 hours per day.

  • Should I start imposing the 2 hour per day deadline every day?
  1. What if I study 4 hours on a certain day?
  2. Also, I do not want to feel on-the-toes after committing to beeminder.

I don’t want to feel on-the-toes (it adversely affects me), and the same time I want to use the tool (beeminder) to help me not to loose my track.

How does one use beeminder for this?


I would do it with one or two goals. If it is mostly important that you
average 2 hours a day, I would set up a Do More goal set for 2 hours a day
and start with a big fat safety buffer of 2+ weeks. Start entering your
data, and realize that any time your deadline is 7 days out you can cancel
or change your rate and it will take effect before your deadline strikes.
Set a periodic reminder to look at your goal, and if you have too much
safety margin that you never think about studying, reduce the safety margin.

If you have a premium account you may be able to use the Max Safety Days
feature to make this nicer for you.

If you find this leads to binge-studying, where you study for 8 hours one
day and then skip it for a few days, and you don’t like this, set up
another goal called study_days. Make it be a Do More goal. You can either
enter 1 on days you study by hand, or , and use IFTTT to automate entering
a 1 in this goal when you enter any data in the previous goal.

Without custom goals there is a small loophole with the IFTTT thing, which
is where you enter data multiple times in one day on the first goal, and it
adds more than 1 to the secondary goal. If you have a premium account, you
may be able to convert the study_days goal to a custom goal, and set the
aggday to nonzero, which fixes this.

In many ways, though, these suggestions are tailored to my personal
strengths and weaknesses. It may be helpful if you say why you want a
beeminder studying goal, and what happens when you don’t have one and what
you want to happen with the ideal goal.