Advent 2022: 21. Obscure Beeminder Features

Today’s Advent Calendar post is a list of Beeminder features that you may not know about or may not think about often, so perhaps reading this list will give you some ideas for enhancing your beeminding.

  • Insta-deletion of new goals: A goal can be deleted at any time in its first week. This makes it pretty safe to start any goal, even if you’re not sure it will work for you!

  • X-axis starting point: By default, a graph will show all its data. Change that with “X-min” in the “Graph Settings” section of the Settings tab, either temporarily to zoom in on your recent data or permanently (e.g., if you’ve passed a milestone in a goal and want to focus on the data since then).

  • Hide the datapoint values on the graph: Just above the X-min setting is a checkbox that causes numbers to not be shown on the y axis of the graph. You might want this if you want to show someone your goal but not let them see the actual values. Also make sure that you haven’t ticked the “Make the datapoints public” checkbox in the Privacy section on that tab. See the Privacy Help page for more information about various goal / data privacy settings.

  • Rescale datapoints: At the very bottom of a goal’s Data tab, you’ll see the “Scale Datapoints” section. That lets you multiply all your datapoints and the bright red line by a certain value - this is safe and will not cause you to derail! You can also divide by entering a decimal number, or even a fraction. For example, if you created a goal with the units being minutes, and entered some data, and then decided you’d rather track in hours, you would enter “1/60” in the box and click “Scale It!”. If it looks like the data hasn’t changed, do a shift-refresh of the page. You can then go to the commitment tab and click on the current unit name to change it (that’s optional; it doesn’t affect how your goal works). See Can I change goal units on an existing goal? for more information.

  • Enter time as HH:MM: If your goal measures hours and you want to enter anything other than an integer number of hours, you can type the data in the format HH:MM or HH:MM:SS. For example, to enter 7 minutes, use 0:07 which may be more convenient than 0.11666666666. :wink: The same applies if you’re editing existing datapoints.

  • Supporters: If you’d like someone to be emailed whenever you derail, enter their email address into the Supporters section in the Settings tab. Ask them first, and make sure they know that you’re willing to remove their email address if they tell you they want to stop getting the emails (it’s damaging to Beeminder’s email reputation if people mark emails as spam). I used to do this for my gym visits goal, with a co-worker with whom I have a friendly rivalry. I knew that for each derailment he’d mock me mercilessly - that was a better incentive than avoiding money loss!

  • Other people adding data: It’s possible for someone other than you to add data to your goals if you explain to them how to send an email with the data in it. This may be useful if someone is acting as an accountability partner for you - they can be in charge of updating your goals. See Can anybody else add data to my goal? for details, and of course if a sudden feud makes it go horribly wrong, you can email support to get their email address blocked.

  • Export and import of data: You can export all your datapoints for a goal, and you can also import data via email or with the “Advanced Entry” form to the right of the graph.

  • Akrasia horizon immunity: The akrasia horizon means that you can’t make a goal easier within the next 7 days. If you can manage to keep a 7-day safety buffer then you are “immune” to the akrasia horizon. For example, if you decide you want to stop working on the goal for a while, you can set the rate to 0 (or archive it). The change still won’t take effect for 7 days, but your buffer means you don’t need to work on the goal during those days.

  • “Take a Break” to make a goal harder: You’re probably aware of the “Take A Break” section in a goal’s Commitment tab, which uses a rate of 0 by default. But you can set any rate for the “break” period, including one harder than your normal rate! For example, you’re taking a week off work so you schedule a zero-rate break on your work time goal, and you could also schedule a larger rate on your housework goal to help you catch up on the cleaning. This is useful, valuable, sensible advice which I will be totally ignoring this holiday period. :wink:

  • Breaks on multiple goals at once: Did you know that there’s some nifty shortcuts to set breaks on several goals at once? See Advent 2022: 01. Setting Breaks and Beethinking Breaks for details!

  • Breaks on Do Less goals: You can use “Take a Break” to schedule a break on a Do Less goal (enter a larger rate than normal - that gives you a steeper bright red line, which lets you do more of the thing). However it may be better to use the graph editor to insert a single discontinuous jump up instead of a steeper section. That’s especially useful if the “Add pessimistic presumptive data” checkbox is ticked on the Settings tab. For details, see Pessimistic Presumptive Reports (PPRs) > How can I take a break if I have PPRs on?

  • Graph editors: If you have a Bee Plus or Beemium subscription, your goals’ Settings tab has a “Graph Editor” section that lets you make precise, manual changes to the bright red line (excluding any changes that would make the goal easier within the next week). The Graph Editor Help page shows you how. The visual graph editor lets you do the same thing but in a safer, more graphical way, with preview and undo features.

  • Multiple goal types: If you have a premium subscription, you have several other goal types to use, in addition to the standard Do More goals and the integrations: Do Less, Odometer, Whittle Down, Lose Weight, Gain Weight, and Custom.

  • Custom goals and aggregation methods: The custom goal type for subscribers gives you a lot of control over how your goal works, including but not limited to many interesting ways of aggregating your data.The Custom goals Help page goes into details.

  • New goal defaults: If you have preferred values for the post-derail respite, pledge caps, and goal privacy, you can set them as defaults for all new goals. You can still change them on individual goals after that!

  • Reminder methods: There are multiple reminder methods that you can configure: email, app notifications, Slack posts or DMs, POSTs to a webhook, SMS (for USA Bee Plus and Beemium subscribers). The Reminders Help page gives a lot of information about reminders.

  • Deadlines and reminders page for all goals: You can set a goal’s deadline or reminder in the goal’s Settings tab, but you can also use your Reminders page to change them for multiple goals at once. This is great for ensuring consistent behaviour for your goals, or for implementing Waterfall Goals. See the Deadline & Reminders Help page for details.

And now for some features in the Android app:

  • Tally counter data entry method: The default data entry screen for each goal lets you type a value and a comment but if you swipe right, you get to a screen that you tap to increase a counter. Tap as many times as you need, then go back and submit the total. Fun fact invented by @dreev: You can beemind push-ups with this, using your nose! Put the phone under your face, maybe raised up on some books, and at the bottom of each pushup tap it with your nose.

  • Timer data entry method: Swipe right again and you get to a timer that can record to the nearest second. You can submit directly from the timer screen. It assumes that your goal units are hours (see above about rescaling your data if you want to convert a goal from minutes to hours).

  • Amounts due in upcoming days: On the right-hand side of the graph, there’s a little “i” symbol. Tap it to open a panel that shows how much is due today, tomorrow, and so on for the next week. It took me forever to notice this!

  • Permanotification dismissal: The Android app creates a permanent notification because Google mandates that, but you can turn it off.

  • Widgets with default values: You can add a widget for each goal, and can optionally set a default value for each datapoint. That speeds up entry if you enter the same value most of the time.

  • Widget persistence: If you log out of the Android app, you may see that the widgets no longer display your goals and data. When you log back in, they’ll start working again.

  • Tasker integration: If you use the awesome Tasker app then installing the Beeminder app adds some Beeminder actions to Tasker: starting a goal’s timer, stopping the timer and submitting its value, and direct submission of a numeric value.

There is of course an iOS app too but I don’t use iOS so I can’t comment on it. Are you aware of any hidden or interesting features in it? Post a comment!
EDIT: See the comments about the Apple Shortcuts integration, which sounds awesome!

Are you looking for more tips like this? These might help:

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Lol!

Ah! You’ve reminded me that I meant to attribute that idea to @dreev so I’ve edited that in now. :slight_smile:

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Holy cow this is an impressive collection! For iOS, the Apple Shortcuts integration definitely deserves a shoutout (as does @theospears for making it work). Quoting myself from a beemail announcement:

Automatically send data to Beeminder goals, or just put a Shortcut on your home screen to send a +1 to Beeminder with one tap. Plus, Shortcuts now let you set the datapoint comment, either hardcoded or based on contents of the Shortcut, eg, to record the time of day the thing happened. Or maybe you have a caffeine goal: you can make one Shortcut to send +95mg for a cup of coffee and another Shortcut to send +26mg for a cup of tea.

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A related iOS tip

  • You can add data points to beeminder from your Apple Watch. Follow the same instructions as above to create a shortcut, and then under the shortcut options choose to make it available on Apple Watch. Then on your watch you can load the shortcuts app, and use the shortcut you created to log data.
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