Suggestions for using beeminder to keep on track with grading of assignments and papers (very short-term goals)


Hello all,

I have used beeminder successfully for many years and I love it. Never posted in the forum before though. But now I am looking for some suggestions.

I beemind pomodoro’s for my work. I work as a lecturer at a university. That works really well. However, when it is time to grade assignments, the system falls apart. I still work my number of pomodors, but I do less urgent things and procrastinate terrible on the grading of the assignments. Often the grading only really takes me a few days, so I have a hard time imagining how a beeminder goal would look for that. Ideally, I would like a very short-term goal where the x-axis shows hours instead of days. But I don’t know if that is even possible?

Any other clever suggestions on how to do this for something as simple as getting assignments graded?

Any suggestions appreciated!


How about a fine print that says you have to prioritize grading papers over other things? So that when there are papers to grade, you’re only allowed to track pomos after you’ve tracked at least a certain amount of pomodoros grading papers a day, as long as there are papers left to grade?

Short term goals suffer from the akrasia horizon, actually. I have tried to make myself read papers in the short term, but it didn’t really work…

P.S.: I think short term goals could be a feature of beeminder. Maybe a request is in order?


There’s GTBee in case that fits the bill here. It’s a bit stale at this point so feel free to drop any feedback on it here if it’s close to being what you need but not quite!


If you can stretch this goal to last a week, and start with 0 days buffer, you could beemind it I think


I have had similar issues with goals that I wanted to finish, but I didn’t know exactly how long they would take. I’ve finally resorted to just starting Beeminder goals for them, then emailing support to archive the goal or change the slope when the short-term goal is accomplished.


Grading is hard to beemind, I have struggled to figure out a good system as well. My current system is that I have a long-term grading goal with some reasonable average amount of time spent grading per week, but whenever I am all caught up and have nothing left to grade, I get to count just enough time to keep me on track. This is way better than nothing (when I used to not track grading with beeminder I would tend to just let the grading pile up), but it’s definitely not perfect. For one, the QS people will be mad at me for putting in fake data points. But it also doesn’t adapt well to changing grading loads as the semester progresses. I also have to put in a data point every day to keep it from derailing, even when I have nothing to grade, which is annoying.


how about tracking “amount graded” rather than “time spent grading?” sort of like an inbox zero (whittle down goal type), where you’re starting with X papers and you need them down to 0 by this week. a little less QSy, but less ambiguous. you’ve either graded your X/7 papers today or you haven’t, regardless of how long it takes to do so.


That might work, though I’m not very familiar with how inbox-zero-type goals work. But I think there’s a big difference from Inbox Zero which is that with an email inbox, the number of messages in it is an autodata source, whereas with grading I would have to manually enter every time I got more things to grade. I think there would be too much room for being weaselly about it (“I’m not going to tell Beeminder about THESE papers quite yet because I don’t have time to work on grading them today, but I’ll enter them tomorrow…”) or just plain forgetting to enter them, because I often receive stuff to grade in times and places when I can’t just sit down and enter them into Beeminder. At least the time-based goal forces me to sit down semi-regularly and at least think about whether I have anything to grade. So perhaps what would work would be to have a whittle-down goal, plus another do more goal set to 5/week that simply requires me to make sure I have entered all items to grade into the whittle-down goal.


total amount of units (divided) / days/hours/minutes till deadline = units per day/hour/minutes

or do I make it too simple?


Sorry for the late reply! Was busy grading :slight_smile: The fine print idea is good, but I don’t think it will work for my brain. I know the short-term akrasia horizon is really confusing and not working so well. Will try to set it up for one week and see how that looks!


Thanks for the suggestion! I have used GTBee in the past, and interestingly enough, it does not really work for me. But I think that has to do with how my brain works. In beeminder, it is less the money aspect but more the visual aspect that seems to motivate me!


I will try that. Thanks! I will try to set it up as Chelsea suggested and to it as like an inbox zero type. I think that it might work for assignments that will take me a week to get done. Not sure yet on how to solve my more short-term grading issues…


Glad to know that I am not the only one struggling with this! I agree that it is a tricky slope when sometimes you have to “cheat”. I don’t think that would work for my brain. Currently, I actually tried to use and have my daily goals on there. And then just beemind the pomodoros (which it does automatically, so I love that!). For some reason, my brain mostly needs the visual success stories, more than the money incentives. But I might try the inbox zero approach and see how that goes!


Thanks for the help. But that is a bit too simple. The problem is that short-term goals are hard to set up, and the deadlines get confusing and irrelevant. But in theory, you are right!


Hi Chelsea!
I like this. Also with staying below, it will be a nice visual and a good incentive to start early enough. I am still not sure though for things that will take me less than a week!’

P.S I tried to set-it up, but I am not sure if I did it right. I tried to set-it up as a “do less” goal, but now I confused myself. I am sure there is somewhere a link to how to do this right?


Oh yes, my mistake. I’m only tracking long term habits.


erm… probably not :blush:

try the whittle down goal type! your starting value is the # of assignments you need to grade, and you’d dial in the road like the below, with your own deadline date. the rate part is grayed out b/c all i care about is reaching 0 at that date. but like any goal, you can pick any 2 of the 3 values, so if you’d prefer to just say “-5 items per week until may” you can do that too.

every time you grade stuff, enter the new remaining total number of items you need to grade. so starting at 50 then grading 10 items means you enter 40 (not 10 or -10).


Plus, you’ll probably need to create one such goal for each new stack of grading. Because by design, neither do-less nor whittle-down like to go backward.

And if it’s sufficiently short term, make sure to turn on no mercy on the goal’s commitment tab or as your default choice for all new goals: that’s new goal defaults in your account settings.

Alternatively, after you derail you could manually adjust your safety buffer to 1 day of flat spot.

(Too much information?)