Advent 2022: 04. Overwhelmed or In Control? / Rate Improvement Goal

Today’s Advent Calendar post is a two-parter: Something you can do if you’re badly overwhelmed by life, and something you can do if you’re totally in control and looking for challenges. There’s also a bonus tip about annotating your graphs with hashtags.

A while back, I was definitely overwhelmed by everything I needed and wanted to do, and not coping well with the pressure I’d put myself under. For almost all my Beeminder goals, I reduced their rates to zero and put a list of them into a text file. I then created a rate improvement goal - a Do More requiring one datapoint per week. Each time a datapoint is due, I pick one of my goals from that file and increase its rate at little.

I let myself make each increase as small as I want! For example, for my aerobics goal, adding one minute to the daily requirement would be totally okay. This is the principle of tiny but consistent improvements. No matter how small a step forward you take, if you keep taking a step you’ll eventually get somewhere, without the stress of a sudden ambitious change.

About ten of my goals are now at their ideal rates, and another dozen are still being improved. Sometimes I’ll add a new goal and it goes onto the list too, to be increased over time.

This rate improvement goal is a trivial idea but it’s one of my favourite goals because I can see how much it’s helped me to feel more in control. I still have a way to go with that, but I’m definitely feeling better.

If you look at the graph and the data you’ll see there are hashtags. These record the goalnames of each goal that I improved each week. They’re very simple to use. In a goal’s Settings screen, the Privacy section has a checkbox for “Show hashtags from comments on the graph” - tick that. In each datapoint, add a comment that contains a hashtag. It can contain other text too, and only the hashtag will appear on the graph. For example, my most recent datapoint has the comment “#bk_dinosaurs”, and you’ll see “#bk_dinosaurs” on the graph. Hashtags are not as useful for multiple datapoints close together (too crowded) but they’re lovely for slower goals, especially for those that you look at to feel proud of. You can also put a hashtag on just an occasional datapoint - there doesn’t have to be one on every point.

Do you have the opposite problem - in control of everything and wanting more to do? I cannot imagine what that would be like but surely it’s possible? :smiley: Create a “new goals” goal! Each time a datapoint is due, create a new goal for some new activity. Be as imaginative as you like! Start each goal with a low rate until you get a feel for whether you like it, and archive it if turns out to be unhelpful. Remember that you can even completely delete a goal in its first week without waiting for seven days to pass, so don’t be afraid to try something whimsical!


Dang, this rate improvement goal idea is so good! Sort of related: Control Systems For Backlogs | Beeminder Blog

Also relevant (maybe especially before taking @alys’s “new goals” goal advice!): Beating Beeminder Burnout | Beeminder Blog