This is an experimental goal I'm running that whomever was behind the twitter account today suggested I should post about here, so here I am.
I drink a little too much. Not like "I have a problem" too much, but more like "I could probably stand to have maybe 2 or 3 fewer drinks a week" too much.
I've previously beeminded units of alcohol consumption and concluded that actually measured as a number of units per week I'm fine. Certainly well within the recommended health guidelines - most nights I don't actually have anything at all, so this brings the averages down to acceptable levels.
The problem is that on nights that I do drink I probably have a few drinks more than I should. I make tasty cocktails, and after a tasty cocktail or two making another one sounds like a much better idea.
And by the third drink of the evening I will usually discover the next day that it wasn't a good idea.
So I decided to try to design a goal with an incentive structure that matched up to the actual problem and kept the number of evenings I had too many drinks down while not penalising evenings where I've just had the one too harshly. What I've come up with seems like a nice general structure, and it's not too hard to track.
What I'm tracking is a total drink-score per week. The first drink on a day scores one, the second scores two (for a total of 3), the third scores 3 (for a total of 6), etc. These totals are called triangular numbers, hence the name triangular beeminding.
(Note: These are drinks, not units. It's easier to track and I try to keep my beeminder goals in units that I can easily eyeball rather than having to estimate. Especially if I have to estimate them after a few drinks. Most of my drinks are approximately two units).
I'm then capped at a total score of 15 per week. This equates to a maximum of 11 drinks in a week (3 days with 1 drink and 4 with 2), which at my averages is just over the recommended maximum of 21 units, but that's because 15 is my slightly generous starting rate for the goal. It also means that if I have more than two drinks on any night I'm forced under the recommended maximum to compensate - if I have 3 drinks on 1 night I only have 9 points to spend for the rest of the week, which is another 7 drinks and a point left over, so 20 and a bit units (note that one point left over ~ an extra drink over the course of the next two weeks).
Example permitted maximum drinking patterns:
- 4 days with 2 drinks and 3 days with 1 (0 points left over)
- 1 day with 3 drinks, 1 day with 2 drinks, 5 with 1 (1 point left over)
- 2 days with 3 drinks, 3 days with 1 drink, 2 days alcohol free (0 points left over)
- 1 day with 5 drinks (!) and no drinking the rest of the week (0 points left over)
Note that 3 days with 3 drinks is not permitted even with the remaining rest of the week free: That would be 18 points which takes me over the threshold.
So far this is experimental. I only started this today (In which I racked up 3 points celebrating the release of a friend's game), so it may turn out to be far too complicated in practice. We'll see how well this actually works, and I'll report back when I know. However I'm quite pleased with the incentive structure it sets up, and it seems relatively simple to implement, so I'm reasonably hopeful.