Beeminder Forum

Advice for getting burnt out?

Hey everyone!

First I want to say, Beeminder has been amazing and I think it’s the only app I’ve ever used that I can genuinely say has changed my life.

I’ve been using Beeminder for about 5 months and I’ve slowly added more habits over time. I currently have about 6, (technically 8, but those last two are do less goals that I don’t consider exhausting at all).

Lately I’ve felt kind of burnt out. In the past, I was able to stay 7 days ahead on almost all of my goals as the norm. Now I’m always one or two days ahead, sometime 3 at the most.

I know I can simply make the goals easier or delete them completely, but they’ve been helping me so much, I don’t want to cut back. And most of them already seem pretty low to me.

So any advice on this? Would it be dishonest to schedule a future “vacation”, so I can get ahead?

Any suggestions for staying 7 days ahead so I don’t fall back into this problem?

Any other tips for staying productive with burn out?

I want tor reiterate that I’m not complaining. Finally being able to stick with my habits is a wonderful problem to have. And in most ways it’s made me far happier so that’s why the decision on how to cut back is a tough one!

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Few quick notes:

Some people are quite happy to edge skate (@dreev and myself to name two), so you might consider whether it’s the edge skating itself or the expectation that you shouldn’t be edge skating that’s stressing you out. No judgement either way, but I think it’s good to be clear where you stand on that.

I believe @shanaqui has had good luck beeminding staying ahead on their goals, they could provide more details.

I don’t think scheduling a vacation is dishonest at all. Even if you don’t use it to get ahead, just having a chance to take a breather can give you a fresh start when you come back and help you understand better which goals are providing value and which might not be making as much of a difference as you thought.

Personally I have weekends off enabled for almost all my goals, which ends up giving me a mini “vacation” every week. Depending on your sub level, you might consider turning that on for your goals.

One other ways you might be able to reduce the stress is by lowering the pledge caps on your goals. Having the freedom to pay a reasonable dollar amount for a break on a goal whenever you need it might help you feel more relaxed about things.

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@narthur Thanks for tagging me in. Just FYI, I’m a “they”, not a she! :slight_smile:

I don’t think so at all! It takes seven days to kick in, after all, so it’s not a “quick fix”. I do this all the time. :slight_smile:

Out of curiosity, do you have 7/week type goals, or do you give yourself some room for error? I have some goals that ideally I want to do every day, but I make them 6 or 6.5/week, so that I can get ahead… or have a breather. Would something like that help, perhaps?

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My bad! :flushed: And edited. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Great question and great points from @narthur and @shanaqui!

I definitely agree you should schedule breaks guilt-free any time you’re feeling overwhelmed. In theory it should be impossible to do that akratically because you can only schedule breaks outside the akrasia horizon.

(If that doesn’t feel true for you, like if you find yourself scheduling breaks in moments of weakness and later regretting it because you want Beeminder pushing you harder, please tell me that! That would be key feedback in our ongoing deliberations about whether the akrasia horizon needs to be customizable.)

We also have a blog post about Beating Beeminder Burnout.

Thanks for asking this! Really important discussion here! (And thanks so much for the kind words about Beeminder; feels amazing to hear that!)

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I schedule breaks on my Beeminders all the time!

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This is all so helpful, thank you!

@narthur I had heard of a few people edge skating, and for a while I thought that I might as well do that. I read a blog post about beeminder and the author said he basically uses it as his todo list and often a few goals are red. Up until recently, it’s worked really well for me to do it that way but recently I find myslef trying to finish things late at night as I’m falling asleep. But there might be other work arounds to that, I really don’t mind the idea of edge skating. I definitely need to get clear on if I want to continue edge skating or not, thank you for that tip!

I also have weekends off on almost all of my goals. Most of them are 5x a week goals, although I find that the breaks don’t always fall on the weekends if I’m not consistant. Not sure what to do about that. It seems like those two days would give me time to catch up, but I haven’t been diciplined enough to use them that way so far.

I love the idea of lowering the pledge caps to a point that I can stomach if I decide I need a break. Even a very low dollar amount will be motivating for me to keep going most of the time unless I’m exhausted.

@shanaqui Okay, I’ll do that every once in a while then! most of my goals are about 5/wk. - or an amount that I can reasonably get done in 5 days. I try to always take weekends off. I just never use the weekends to get ahead because I’m always out and about doing things. Maybe I should make them 4/wk so that I could use Fridays for that purpose - or perhaps I’m doomed to always push the boundries haha.

@dreev That makes complete sense, and I think that will apply to me as well. I tend to overestimate my willpower and abilities even a day in advance, so I really doubt I’ll start scheduling breaks wrecklessly and regretting it. But ya never know, so I will definitely give you feedback if I ever start to fall into that! Thank you for that blog post!

I just cut back a couple of my goals to make them a little less intense in daily quantity, scheduled a week long break (which pretty closely coincides to some house-sitting I’ll be doing so that works out perfectly,) made one pledge cap adjustment, and scheduled the archive on goal that is basically just a duplicate of a new one I have.

I think those changes will help quite a bit. Thank you so much everyone for all the great suggestions, you guys are the best!

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It looks like you’ve gotten some great advice so far! I also think a feeling of “Beeminder burnout” can come from a mismatch between the goals you’re beeminding and your actual life goals. I.e., if you focus hard and that lets you do these 6 things, but then you don’t have time for some nebulous other thing that actually you value more than those 6 things – like if you wash all the dishes every day, but at the expense of talking to your best friend – that mismatch can build up. Or maybe the thing you’re beeminding isn’t a good proxy for the life change you wanted to make after all, like if you’re studying vocabulary flashcards but not actually practicing conversations, the effort isn’t paying off with the outcome you wanted. Basically, if I’ve been keeping up with a goal (an important “if”!) but nonetheless I gradually find myself ‘rebelling’ against it, for me that’s usually a sign that the goal isn’t actually a good idea.

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I resonate with this a lot, as I was burnt out for a very long time myself, and am currently particularly neurotic about making sure I’m not burnt out or even approach it.

  • Practice as much self-forgiveness and compassion as possible. Your bees and productive work are just supplemental characteristics to the wonderful person you are fundamentally! :stuck_out_tongue:
  • I used to “surf on seven” as well, but find my monkeyweasel mind to neglect a task unless it was a beemergency in the red, so now all my daily tasks are there. Turning them back to yellow gives me both a sense of accomplishment and relief.
    • I even set an auto-retroratchet for systems to be set to 0 days whenever I go well-over the goal at hand, because again, I’ll neglect it if it’s in the green.
  • Being mindful of how much time a task usually takes is good too, as then you can start to kinda-block out chunks of the day (if you don’t live by a rigid schedule, presumably).
  • With remaining time, it’s good to plan for both a) self-care and b) doing-nothingness. I think a lot of people have the misconception that these are similar, but they’re not. Do things that are relaxing and you enjoy, but also just have time where you aren’t doing anything.
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This makes me wonder if you wouldn’t find some benefit in adjusting your goal deadlines.

I used to have all my deadlines at midnight and I found that it just caused my days to be chaotic. More recently I set almost all my deadlines to be one of: early morning for personal goals, 5pm for work goals, and 7pm for winddown goals (with plenty of exceptions).

I found that this change made my days so much less chaotic and easier to manage because different goals for different areas of my life are no longer interfering with each other.

Another variation on this that some people do are deadline waterfalls, where they set all their deadlines to different times throughout the day based on how long things take, when they want them to be done, and in what order.

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Oh, yes! What @narthur said! Here’s me and @bee discovering that setting all our deadlines to 5pm was a huge help: 5pm deadlines might be life-changing

It’s now going on 9 months of 5pm deadlines and we both still really like it. Sometimes I think about how carefully constructed waterfalls could better spread out my deadline-scrambling. And very occasionally I scramble to dispatch all of my beemergencies the night before so that I can, say, get immersed in code or catch up on email during the workday. I like that a lot and am now thinking if it could be worth forcing myself to do that more. The extreme of midnight or 3am deadlines though feels like too much. That’s a recipe for procrastinating all day and then literally losing sleep over dispatching beemergencies.

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I also found a big benefit in moving goal deadlines earlier. Actually, I only moved one goal deadline up (to 9:30pm), but that goal requires me to have done nearly all my other goals. That way I can easily adjust the slope and deadline to account for things like social activities or (more frequently) bad toddler bedtimes, without having to mess with all my other goals. It made a BIG improvement on my average bedtime! Seriously, it’s probably my second-most-important beeminder goal, right after my daily to-do list.

(Also, I am another edge-skater; I enjoy accumulating buffer on a few of my goals, because it means I’m saving up for a “break”, but the vast majority of my goals are red every day, and that’s how I manage to get things done.)

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No. Goals are personal and continuous discussion and agreement with your ownself. Remember to be kind to yourself.

Tip (hopefully @dreev does not consider this a bug :D): Instead of a “vacation” you can turn on the “weekend off” option and then turn it off again. This will add a bit of breather to your goal without doing a permanent change in your goal.

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Oddly enough, the deadlines thing did the opposite of working for me. I think that’s pretty idiosyncratic, but I thought I’d share anyway, because I think it’s super useful for people to know that there are many different ways of using Beeminder.

Basically, my problem is because I do seem to need all my deadlines at the same time, and with autodata goals I can’t change them.

I think it partially happens because I use a browser extension that lets me minimise goals and send them to the bottom once I’ve completed them. I actually use this to try to touch (or at least consider) all of my goals every day, and once I have, they get minimised. My ideal is that they all get minimised so that in the end, I’m looking at the whole list of 'em, minimised. With my autodata goals, like my calorie-deficit goal, that went on all the way to midnight after the others had rolled over and could/should be worked on again!

Now that method was kind of working but it didn’t feel satisfying. So I moved my deadlines back to midnight!

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What browser extension is this?

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It was made by someone in the forum and isn’t on the web stores, but you can get it from this thread! :slight_smile:

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Cool, thanks!