2016 Planning (aka Resolutions)

Hi Everyone! Last year I planned out a few resolutions for 2015, and a few others chimed in. Let’s do that again. It’ll be a social accountability thing, and we’ll commit to check back in quarterly and see what’s working.

This year my personal focus is ultimately all about health.


This still seems like the lynchpin of improved overall health for me. Last year I started out trying a couple different things for sleep tracking, but in the end my bedtime goal spawned a new bad habit, and my average nightly sleep hovered somewhere between 6.11 and 7.18 hours per night (March 2015 being my best month recorded).

This year I’m setting up some automatic goals to squelch my bad habit of playing games on my phone in bed, and I’m going to try to make sure my average nightly sleep doesn’t drop below 7 hours /night this year.


Second, I’d like to increase my socializing and spend more time nurturing friendships. Maybe a goal to keep in contact with people I already love would be a good place to start.

Flexibility & strength

Faire (my daughter) has a friend who’s gotten her interested in acrobatics-related stuff, and I’m hoping I can get Faire (and Cantor too) excited about some kind of joint goal where maybe we pick a skill and all of us work together on improving that skill for a month. My ideas so far are a month of working on splits and a month on headstands (or handstands).

Chime in with your goals! (and I’ll update this post with links to my goals once I get them set up / details ironed out).


I just set up autoratcheting for two goals (sleep and reading), increased the difficulty on three goals (cheaper groceries, food money, and Habitica chores), and retroratched a bunch more so that I didn’t have such big safety margins.

Sleep is definitely gonna be my big challenge for the new year, and it’ll help all my other ambitions fall into place. For the last many years, I’ve had a really inconstant schedule, where I’d have to get up at 5:00 am somedays, but wouldn’t come home until 10:00 pm other days. Starting on Monday, though, unless some other freelance work falls into my lap, my schedule will be 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Monday through Thursday. That means I could conceivably sleep in until 11:00 every day, but NO! I will not do that! I’m gonna set myself an 8:00 am alarm every morning (even on Fridays!). That should have a host of consequences with effects on other goals. So I autoratched my sleep goal, and am gonna try really hard to get onto a sustainable regular sleep schedule for the first time in… Decades, to be honest. Possibly ever. Wish me luck.

  • I’ll be able to get groceries early in the day and maybe help do prep work like washing and chopping for dinner that day.

  • I want to start trying to commute to work (about 10 miles each way) on my bike instead of taking the train the first 8 miles and only biking the last 2 miles.

  • I want to do at least a little cleaning every day. This would be way easier if Beeminder supported Habitica Dailies (nudge-nudge), but my kinda hacked-together to-do list solution is working more or less okay for now.

  • Because I’m working so much less, we’re earning way less money, so I’ve got to work really hard on economizing. More frequent fridge cleanouts and produce inventory management to avoid wasting food is a big priority. Might have to make a Beeminder goal for this, but I’m not sure what to drop out if I do. Might delegate this to Habitica instead.


For 2016 I’d like to

  1. Learn to deal with anxiety and procrastination much more (Beeminder and other QS-related apps have helped on that in 2015 :)) My main goals related to this are various RescueTime metrics on hours devoted to my projects (for better or worse I’m juggling multiple projects at the same time that’s not going to change any time soon)
  2. Achieve “free evenings”, e.g. finishing 8 hours of actual productivity (measured by RescueTime) by 21:00. Currently, i’m between productive and unproductive states from 7:30 to 00:30 (and previously sometimes it went to 2:30). No Beeminder goals related to this and I’m not sure what could be done there. For now, I’m managing this on Habitica, with a series of dailies (“8h Prod by 21:00”, “Stop working by 23:00”, “In bed before midnight”) with mediocre results (the “In bed before midnight” one is actually in a better “health” state than the others)

January is sort of the middle of the ‘real year’ for me, but in 2016, I’ll finish my last semester of coursework, take my comprehensive exams, and do my first semester of independent research on my dissertation. That means I need to orchestrate the hand-off between my professors being the bosses of my time, and me being the boss!

Accordingly, by the time I have my committee assembled, I must:

Build a serious habit of deep work
There were only 450 tenure-track jobs available to newly-minted English PhDs worldwide in 2015 (lowest in 40 years!), so by the time I go on the job market in 2020, I need to forge myself into something spectacular. Accordingly, it’s past time to stop comparing myself to my fellow students-- especially the Masters students-- and start comparing myself to the professors I most admire.

Re-commit to resting
The last year of my MA, I was a generally happy and satisfied person. This past semester, I have accomplished less work while also being more miserable. In 2016, I want to identify what is genuinely restorative, for me, and to prioritize doing those things with my well-earned free time. I suspect this is going to involve a lot less travelling to visit friends and going out to cool events in the city, and a lot more travelling alone and staying inside to play video games.

I’m still experimenting with how to beemind these – if I felt like my current systems were working, I wouldn’t need to resolve to improve them – but hopefully I will have good news by 2017!


Hello everyone,

First of all i would like to wish everyone a happy new year and the strength to keep your new year’s resolution the whole year.

For my self i am new at beeminder and the reason i signed up is to put extra weight into my new year’s resolution.

Which is as simple as it is hard for me: " stop spending money with gambling and betting and get financial healthy again."!


Goodbye Italian, Hello Frenchciao al’italiano, salut le français

Any other time of year, this might have warranted its own post. But hey ho.

I’ve been dragging my heels on Italian study lately. Serial derailments are usually a good sign that something isn’t right with a goal. What’s more, I had let my subscription to news in slow italian lapse, maybe because it didn’t have a Beeminder goal to back it up.

So I’m changing over to French, not least because I’m likely to be working partly in Paris and Brussels this year. It’s a good time to brush up and maybe actually (gasp!) become functionally fluent.

How to end a goal

It’s a goal. It’s important. Or used to be important, anyway. Don’t stop dead, cold-turkey style. Ease yourself out of it. Make the best use of the week between deciding that it’s not right anymore and the Beeminder commitment actually coming to an end.

My reading goal, for example, I’m going to finish the chapter that I’m on. That’s a good place to stop, and will take me to just short of 300 pages into il nome della rosa. Importantly, I’m not just closing the book, I’m reaching a deliberate stopping place.

Ending a goal doesn’t mean quitting, it means deliberately reframing and replacing it. It might even mean swapping it for something harder or more ambitious.

In this case, if I actually want to become functionally fluent, it’s not going to be enough to have a duolingo goal, a reading-in-french goal, and a news-listening goal. I might also need to create a talking-to-people-in-french goal…

But, baby bee steps. I’ll start with the easy ones and work up the courage to create an interaction-focussed goal.

Update: done; simple goals created


I need (NEED aka NEED) to finish my PhD by the summer. Beeminder has been a trusted helping hand throughout the previous years, getting me to the point where I have a text. Now I’m in the editing stage and finding it difficult to reach completion. I’m still not really sure what BM goals will support my moving forward with this, though I think to start with a simple ‘time spent’ goal wouldn’t go amiss. (Open to suggestions).


Admin note: I ham-fistedly moved the replies to Alex’s PhD post to a new thread, which is why the original now appears out of sequence here.

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April already! So my Q1 report is kind of dismal:

I fussed with Tasker a while and it was too frustrating and opaque to use, and I’m not sure what’s a good metric for “actually turned off phone now”, so I’ve just installed RescueTime on my phone. (I need the phone nearby for alarums). I’m trying to create a RescueTime goal to limit the amount of time I spend playing games on my phone. Anyone have experience with this? Is there a category that would do a good job of encompassing “games on my phone”?

I’ve also noticed a weird reluctance to actually go to bed of late, like even when I’m tired. This is out of hand with my usual distraction, forgetting to go to bed because, but is more of an actual reluctance to go get in bed, like some kind of crazy FOMO or something. I’m not sure what that’s about. Introspection is hard! I might try making my actual physical bed more appealing. More fluffy comfy pillows? A heavy blanket? I used to pile > 4 quilts onto my bed to make the covers heavy when I was a kid…

I finally actually created a goal for contacting people. https://www.beeminder.com/b/contact – I’ve got an ifttt goal set up and it includes the duration in the comment at the moment. It might be nice if we had a conditional macro… “add datapoint IF duration > 2 minutes” would be perfect. I’ve also added a safety cap of 6 days to this.

For people I haven’t talked to in a long time, it can seem overwhelming / intimidating to try to catch up on all the things, so I’m gonna try out intentionally making the conversation time constrained. Only spend 5 minutes and call them back again soon, instead of spending 2 hours and then not calling them again for two years.

Faire is making awesome progress on gymnastic stuff, but it hasn’t turned out to be something we do together much, and I couldn’t get much excitement from the kids about starting a goal with me. Partially we don’t have a great space for doing gymnastics together, and I noticed I’m kind of self-conscious about doing gymnastics in the livingroom because people could see! I could just start a goal on my own, but I don’t want to add three goals at a time right now. So maybe when I check back next quarter…


If you find weighted blankets appealing/comforting, they make those!

I like your socializing goal ideas too.



I set up a RescueTime goal to track my game-play, and it’s dropped off dramatically. I scheduled myself that tall spot when I knew that a new update was coming out for my favorite game, but that’s within the parameters of Beeminder. I’ve also quit caffeine and started taking melatonin most nights before bed. These changes did not happen simultaneously, so I feel reasonably confident in saying that my experience of quitting caffeine seemed to help a lot with my sleep quality. Melatonin I’m unclear on how/if it has helped.

Quitting Caffeine:

I have at various times in the past tried to quit caffeine, to limited success. I’ll drink less and less for a while, but eventually my consumption will creep upwards again. This time it worked out really well. The thing that worked best was continuing to drink coffee, and just switching slowly to full decaf. In the past I’ve tried to quit coffee entirely, and then eventually my positive associations with coffee – the rich smell, the taste, and yes, the caffeine kick – lure me back in. This time I just started mixing in decaf beans, upping the ratio day by day until the caffeine was all gone. I did beemind my caffeine consumption for a while because after noticing the sleep benefits I wanted to make sure I was still staying significantly below the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee, since there’s trace amounts of caffeine in decaf, and I do drink some tea sometimes. But after realizing that I was not being tempted or drawn into increasing amounts of caffeine or anything, I decided that tracking the caffeine consumption was more trouble than it was worth.


I read this article and then very shortly after my mom mentioned that her doctor had recommended melatonin supplementation, and then my brother… so I figured what the hey.


My socializing goal has not been useful. But I didn’t give it much of a chance, either. It turned out that I have just enough non-social calling that [because of complicated back story with bad decisions about the implementation of road ratcheting] the autoratchet I put on it caused the goal to quickly came up on it’s end date, and I let it die.

Since I’m here putting this out in public, I guess I’ll try restarting this goal again and give it a second chance.


Since I’ve done nothing towards this yet, I’ve just started a goal with 2 minutes per day of flexy: https://www.beeminder.com/b/flexy

Ok. That’s me. Anyone else want to give us an update?


I hadn’t realised that i had actually posted in this thread :smiley: Thank you for the reminder (by posting) @bee

  1. Learn to deal with anxiety and procrastination much more: have been reading on the subject and learning to plan more. Currently trying out Super Better (also reading the book, which is a must in order for the site to make sense to you )
  2. Achieve “free evenings”, e.g. finishing 8 hours of actual productivity (measured by RescueTime) by 21:00 : Nowhere near that. Still working till midnight. Then again, I usually take a 1-2 breaks of 1-2 hours during the day for running and other personal stuff, so maybe I don’t need this goal. Research in progress…

It’s 2/3 of the way through the calendar year, so I guess I should check in on whatever my resolutions were…

Build a serious habit of deep work
I am surprised I phrased this one this way: I think I’ve done an okay job at the meta-goal of “be more remarkable” (I’ve taken on a second promising research project and submitted my first abstrast for potential publication, while also jumping through the hoops of coursework and comprehensive exams) but I don’t think I’ve made any daily habits to accomplish this. I’ve been coasting with the already-ingrained habit of “say yes to anything that I will want to have done; desperately power through the process of actually doing it so I don’t miss a deadline,” which is probably still going to get me pretty far as a student, but long-term I need to be able to focus intensely on my own projects.

I’ve set up a deep work goal again, with the start date pushed out until after my comprehensive exams, and a low rate to account for all the travel I have planned in September and October. I think I was putting off making this goal because I genuinely don’t want to be working on my own research this close to the exams, but I should embrace the habit of making goals that will start in the future whenever I am ready.

If it’s really not working, I suppose I can focus on finding lots of things to commit to that will force me to put deadlines on my own research; that may be why conferences exist in the first place.

Re-commit to resting
I think I mis-diagnosed this one a little bit: I hadn’t suddenly forgotten how to enjoy leisure activities; I was just overwhelmed by some problems with a major relationship in my life. As soon as I went home for the summer I felt like myself again. So, I’ve been using a complice goal to reflect on and work through these relationship problems. Cross your fingers for us to work it out, I guess.

I’m less than a month away from the Great Grad School Void: no coursework, and since I’m working as a research assistant, no teaching either; I will have exactly zero obligations that require me to be at a particular place at a particular time, for at least the next year (and I could dodge campus-based obligations for the next two or three years if I wanted). I’m glad I signed up for Plan Bee.


I’m doing pretty good with sleep. It got a little sketchy over the summer when our day-to-day / week-to-week schedule was really off, but with the start of the new school year, and a more regular schedule, and a new Beeminder waterfall, I’m doing just fine.

Socializing, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Maybe this wasn’t a well formulated goal. Or a bad approach to beeminding it? Was pretty much just as much a failure again. I’d like to brainstorm a different angle of attack if I’m going to continue attempting to improve on this area of my life.

Flexibility, big fail. Turns out I wasn’t that interested in this goal. And a large part of my motivation behind it in the first place was because it was one of Faire’s interests, and I just failed to get her on board with it, so neither of us were terribly interested, I guess.

This January, I’m starting a journalling goal. I’m hoping that spending some more time talking to myself and engaging in some kind of self-reflection might lead me to setting better goals further down the line. I don’t intend to keep the goal going all year, but instead I’m just going to commit to a month of 750 words style journalling. At the beginning of February I’ll see what I’ve wrought.


I’ve had a lot of success by beeminding Contactually for this purpose. It may seem weird to schedule checkups with your friends, but I’ve never had more success keeping in touch with people than when I was using contactually + beeminder.


So, with two goals for 2016, how did I do? …Hm. Well, in Canada 50% is only a D, not an F!

Build a serious habit of deep work: qualified failure
The meta-goal was “prepare myself to be an excellent scholar” but I had really formulated that, mentally, as “several times a week, do multiple hours of serious work on Something.” As much as I thought I was going to be this person, I am not this person. I just don’t find it helpful to try to do “deep work” in units of hours; I need days. And I can’t get excited about working on “Something”; I need a particular project or urgent question. I started and stopped this goal so many times, tried so many different habits, and I wash my hands of it now.

On the plus side, I’m figuring out what does work for me!

When I have done enough of my research and thinking beforehand, I can sit down and write a 250-word paragraph in 15 minutes. To help keep those critical fifteen minutes happening often, I need to have several projects going on at once, for which I am devouring ideas and letting them gestate; when I am on the cusp, I will notice myself spontaneously, excitedly explaining my idea to my friends; at that point, I should clear ~3 writing days to let the whole thing spill out.

Instead of deep work habits, then, my focus is on variety and adaptation. It worked great for the paper I presented at MLA two days ago (major career milestone-- woo!) so I am putting scaffolding in place to support this rhythm.

Re-commit to resting: qualified success
This one was bad news for the relationship that turned out to be making me miserable, but good news, I think, for me. Complice was helpful here, and my wider friend support circle. I’m a lot more content as baseline, spend a lot more time doing and enjoying restorative activities that matter to me, and have a lot more optimism about my future.

I didn’t really check in on these resolutions much during the year here, but I actually do think that I was puttering away on, and eventually ‘resolved’, both of them. So, success!