5pm deadlines might be life-changing

[Another repeat from a daily beemail. It’s now been 2 weeks and I can confirm that it’s hard but worth it!]

@bee and I decided to try a new thing last night. The problem was that we never managed to chill the heck out in the evenings because we’re always scrambling to dispatch beemergencies from when we tuck the kids in to when we need to sleep ourselves.

Also, as brilliant as blog.beeminder.com/waterfalls is, it’s so fussy and daunting to set those waterfalls up.

So we thought we’d try setting all our deadlines on every single one of our goals to 5pm! By doing this all at once (and telling everyone) we’re making it impossible to forget about. Instead of scrambling before bedtime we have to scramble before close of business.

There are plenty of things that can only be done at home but that just means it has to become part of our routine to do those the night before they’re due (or scramble to do them before heading to / starting work in the morning (or scramble to get work stuff done early and go home in time to do them)).

Oh look, it’s almost 5pm so I have to hit send on this now. My last beemergency of the day woo-hoo! Today was kinda intense but great!


It’s been pretty great so far! We tend to go around the house doing personal beemergencies for tomorrow after 5pm. And there has been some occasional working on work things at night in order to get ahead for tomorrow. So far I haven’t derailed because I forgot and the deadline snuck up on me, which was often a problem with waterfalls. And I even started a new personal knitting goal, because it’s translating to a lot more time spent knitting :slight_smile:


@narthur said I could quote his reaction to this:

I did this a while back. Can’t imagine going back.

Related: I thought for sure you could set a default deadline in your account settings, but I don’t see it now. Did I just imagine that?

My response to his question:

top of beeminder.com/reminders :slight_smile:
but, yeah, account settings is probably where you’d expect that!
plus there might be something like banner blindness happening with that section at the top of the reminders page.
highly valuable to hear little bits of feedback like this!

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Sounds like a variant of Switching from late owl to early bird deadlines . What’s the general principle here? Don’t set deadlines at times when you’d rather not actually do work? There must be a more pithy way to put it.


Ooh, yes, thanks for the pointer to that discussion! We kind of went the opposite direction as you!

But your statement of the general principle sounds right. Predictability of deadlines is important, so either set up a waterfall fastidiously or have all deadlines at the same time. And pick the time(s) under the assumption that you’ll be scrambling right up until that time. Unless you have the discipline to get everything done in time for a reasonable bedtime and don’t mind missing that bedtime if things go wrong, I guess.

It’s probably pretty individualized! But 5pm is working nicely for Bee and me.


I think this is me! :smiley: I wouldn’t have called it discipline but I generally don’t muff it up, so maybe it is.


And that is where we have other new goal defaults, so it would really make sense to move it there as well…


I think maybe this is the right way to state the general principle. If you find yourself thinking “I’ll set the deadline to midnight just in case, but really I hope to get everything done by 5pm” then maybe you should seriously think about setting the deadline to 5pm instead.

It’s definitely very individualized, and maybe it depends on whether you are mildly akratic (“it’s helpful to have something reminding me of my long-term goals”), moderately akratic (“I am motivated to work on red or maybe yellow goals”), or hyper akratic (“no way am I working on this until the absolute last possible minute”), how many goals you have, and many other factors.


Once you get 5 PM deadlines under control, try beeminding your beemergencies!


Fixed! http://beeminder.com/changelog#3208

Thanks again, @narthur!


Sooo I’ve gone ahead and, inspired by this, moved my deadlines to 10pm to experiment with actually having a beemergency-free hour before bed.

I am… doing badly with it. I don’t know whether 10pm is just incompatible with how I work or if I just need to get used to it somehow, but holy cheesecake I’m derailing a ton. How has anyone who has moved their deadline got used to the change?

Maybe the issue is that 10pm just isn’t a memorable time for me; it’s an hour before bed, but that’s all. :thinking_face:

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Adam said to me elsewhere that he doesn’t think he’s ever derailed as much as when he had 10pm deadlines. So, uh, interesting! Maybe 10pm is just Wrong.

My prior deadline was midnight, and I was ending up in the position where I’d make myself and the wifecreature late to bed (11pm) in order to meet my goals. So that’s the motive here: move derailing away from bedtime.


I rarely ever ended up having to stay up for my beemergencies, but when my deadlines are when I’m still awake, I forget them all the time!

I’ve burned in “My goals are due after I sleep but before I wake up” for so many years…


Maybe 5pm really is better! It’s the canonical close-of-business and thus maybe easier to remember? You can wake up and look at all your beemergencies and plan out how you’ll get everything done by then and then have your evening free to relax. And maybe also review the next day’s goals before going to bed to make sure there’s nothing that you won’t be able to do during business hours tomorrow so better dispatch it the night before. (How to remember that I’m not sure though…)

And I think key for us was making a big deal out of changing allll our deadlines at once. That made it hard to forget.

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