An end-of-year(ish) update on my evolving use of Beeminder.
Pomodoros are my new best friend
I’ve recently adopted 25-minute pomodoros as my unit for several goals – including some that used to be binary “just do something, anything” goals. That metric was useful for getting me to build a habit, but it didn’t help me make as much progress as I’d like. So
exercise have all moved to pomodoro tracking, and my sense of satisfaction has grown. Pomodoros are also a valuable metric for my work-related goals (more on those below). I find that 25 minutes is an ideal length: it’s long enough to focus, but it sounds short to my brain. And being so close to half an hour, it’s also easy to do in-my-head math on.
Five interrelated goals to track work time
My work-tracking system has matured into something that finally captures my intent. I now have five goals, which are automatically fed data from my Complice outcomes:
write (≥ 24 pomodoros per week, on average)
xln-max (≤ 48)
nobill-max (≤ 8)
wrk-min (≥ 36)
wrk-max (≤ 72)
For example, if I spend 5 pomodoros on a translation project, those 5 pomos will be automatically logged to my
max goals are to keep me from chronically overdoing work – a mess I got myself into back in 2016 and am eager to avoid repeating.
wrk-min goals combine to ensure that I consistently work on my fiction – since it earns me very little, I’ve tended to shunt it aside in favor of more paid translation work. Together, these goals mean I must write for at least 24 pomos a week (on average), and in weeks when I don’t have an active translation project, I must write an additional 12 pomos to boot.
That last feature – which forces me to build buffer on my writing goal in slow translation weeks – gives me the flexibility every freelancer needs to have an occasional slammer week, when I translate morning, noon and night and ignore everything else. Similarly, the gap between
wrk-max) means that I can have that occasional slammer week where I spend 90 pomos on a translation project – as long as I’ve had enough slow weeks to build the necessary buffer.
nobill-max goal should ensure that I don’t spend more than 11% of my work time on administrative things, including meetings with potential clients. (This was part of what overloaded me in 2016, when several new clients approached me at once.)
The system will undoubtedly need some tweaking; for example, since
wrk-max also logs writing pomodoros, then if I spend several weeks maxing it out by writing, I won’t have that translation buffer I need when a big project comes in – even though I haven’t been overworking myself. But it’s a great start, and I’m excited about using multiple Beeminder goals to capture a complex real-world intention.
Language learning milestone
When I took up surfing this summer, I realized that what I call my “hobby” goals – things I ostensibly want to do – were of a whole different order of “want.” Frankly, I’ve kind of had to pull my teeth to make myself practice guitar, mandarin and spanish. But surfing? I loved every minute on the water – even though I was just learning, and thus terrible at it. And when I came back to shore I couldn’t believe I’d been out there for two hours because it felt like ten minutes – and I was already looking forward to my next session.
That made me take a good, hard look at whether I should even have goals for guitar and languages. I decided I’d give them another few months, and reevaluate. I’m happy to report that in the past three months, I’ve turned a corner on all three: while I don’t spend hours that feel like minutes on them, I do enjoy my practice sessions now, and I even look forward to them a little. So they’re all still on the docket for 2018.
Also on the docket for 2018
I had a great time with my goals to watch 30 documentaries, read 30 books, and explore 30 new (to me) musicians. So those are continuing in 2018. I’m also still enjoying my theology study, so that will continue as well.
I’ll also be tracking surfing sessions once the season starts back up for me (here in NL, that means May – I love surfing, but not when I’m miserably cold. And even in May, that’ll be with my 5/4 wetsuit and a hoodie and quite possibly gloves and it will be cold. Just not miserably so.) Surfing sessions will also populate my exercise goal, so that means I can ease up on the indoor dancing around and doing bodyweight exercises once surf season hits. Yay!
My binary every-day-todo goals –
water, etc – have been very satisfying, so they’ll continue as well.
New for 2018 is an
effective goal, which is automatically populated by the percentage of Complice intentions I complete. That encourages me both to complete my intended tasks, and to create a Complice todo list that is realistic in its optimism.
I’ve archived my subgoals for guitar, mandarin and spanish – breaking each down into theory/technique/songs or write/read/listen/speak – in favor of single trackers. I’m using structured learning materials for all three goals, which will ensure I hit all aspects without the complexity of multiple goals.