Advent 2022: 01. Setting Breaks and Beethinking Breaks

This is the first in my series of “Advent Calendar” posts. I’ll be making one post each day until Christmas arrives. Today’s post has two parts: setting breaks and nifty ways to remember to set breaks for future holidays.

With the holiday season coming up, now’s a great time to think about whether any of your goals need breaks over the next few weeks.
You probably know that you can set breaks on individual goals.
Did you also know that you can add breaks to many goals at once using your Breaks page?

Even better, you can easily add an identical break to multiple goals by providing the start and end dates in the URL.
For example, to add a break from 23 December to 2 January, you’d use this URL:
www.beeminder.com/breaks?start=2022-12-23&finish=2023-01-02
Then you’d tick the “take a break” checkbox for all appropriate goals, and click “save changes”. Done!
You can read more in Beeminder’s Help page Can I schedule breaks on many goals at once?.

For me, that method is especially easy for my work-related goals. I use the “weekends off” feature for all of them but not for any other goals, so when I visit the breaks page to add a holiday to all my work goals, I just have to look for the lines that have a checkmark in the “wknds-off” column, instead of needing to find all those goals by name.

But what about remembering to schedule breaks for future holidays? There’s multiple ideas you can consider:

  • Try Calendialing, where you have a goal that makes you check your calendar every week to see if rate changes will be needed soon.
  • Use a browser extension to automatically open your Breaks page once a week (e.g., Simple Browsing Schedule for Firefox). Possibly only useful if you live in your browser but magically manage to not have too many tabs open all the time! :laughing:
  • Subscribe to the daily or weekly Beemails, where Danny sometimes reminds us about setting breaks for common holiday periods (subscribe in the Beemail Settings section in Account Settings > Account Details).
  • If you use Google Calendar and Gmail, try calendar email notifications and a Gmail filter to add a label, as I described in this old forum comment. I still find that useful for our public holidays!

Do you have another method for remembering to set breaks? Tell us about it in the comments!
Any other comments or questions you may want to make will be welcome too of course - for this and for all future Advent posts.

Fun Fact:
bethink means “to cause (oneself) to be reminded / to consider” and so beethink has to be a perfect term for use with Beeminder!

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That trick where you pass in a URL with the start and finish dates… WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE!?

Thank you!

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I learned about the URL trick after moping to Support after spending hours scheduling breaks.

It’s super useful (but frankly should be on the main interface).

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I love this! Agree with the request to eventually adding a global date change to the main interface.

In the meantime, in case anyone wants to use a clickable calendar to set the dates, I hackily modified a prior bookmarklet (apologies for forgetting the source!) to allow this via the following:

  1. Set the date manually for the first goal on the page
  2. Click the bookmarklet
  3. It’ll change all of the subsequent goals to match!

javascript: startdate = document.getElementsByClassName("datepicker input-date break-start")[0].value; document.querySelectorAll('[name*=break_start].input-date').forEach((element) => element.value = startdate); goaldate = document.getElementsByClassName("datepicker input-date break-end")[0].value; document.querySelectorAll('[name*=break_end].input-date').forEach((element) => element.value = goaldate);

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Speaking of bookmarklets, I have one here[forum] to check all the boxes at once, handy if you’re setting a break for more-than-half of your goals at a time.

javascript:document.querySelectorAll('.taking-a-break>input').forEach(x=>x.click())
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I love bookmarklets and those two are great!

@nkmunjal That’s awesome - it gives the same convenience as using a URL that has the dates written into it, except that it’s even easier because you can use the calendar picker!

@rperce Oh I love that! I especially like how it’s a toggle, so you can either use it first and then manually untick some goals OR start by manually ticking the ones you NOT want breaks for and then use it to reverse all the ticks. I’m glad you posted here because I missed your comment on that other forum thread.

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Am I missing something: is there a way to see ALL of your already-set breaks on ALL goals in one place? Or must I visit each goal in order to see previously-set breaks? I created a calendialing goal for Fridays, but I’ve already set some expected breaks through the end of 2022 and don’t remember the next Friday if I already did that.

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I believe there isn’t currently a way to see previously-set breaks on all goals at once.

It would be possible and maybe even fairly easy to build something using Beeminder’s API (e.g., a spreadsheet that fetched and displayed the data), but of course that wouldn’t help you right now, and would be an external tool rather than a feature directly on the website. It would be useful though! I’m hoping someone will comment here about already having a tool that does that, or that could be modified to do it.

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It seems hard to define universally what a break is. Does this mean any rate change on any goal?

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Huh, yes, that’s a great point. It would have to show every rate change. You could try showing only rate changes that took effect over a limited period of time, but that would violate the Anti-Magic Principle and wouldn’t work perfectly for everyone’s use case I expect.

However just showing all rate changes from today onwards should make it pretty clear when breaks have been set. It’d be at least enough to answer the question “dammit, did I remember to add breaks for both my January and February days off?”

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