I’ve made the mistake of adding too many Beeminder goals in the past, so recently I started with some small very simple goals to build some wins. It’s working mostly, but I’d like to slowly ramp up the difficulty.
I personally have a rule that I can only have one difficult/time consuming goal a time but I can create as many small goals (can be completed in under 10 minutes as I want). It allows to ensure that I am making progress on all fronts of my life without becoming overwhelmed. You could even do this on a week/monthly basis (e.g. focus on writing this week, ramp down practicing guitar).
My number one recommendation is to schedule a periodic review where you look at every goal. Ask yourself, “Is this doing what I want it to do?” Look at the safety buffer. Look at the rate. If you do this scattered over time, it’s easy to have a goal sneak up on you. If you look at them all in one sitting, it’s much easier to see issues.
I used to use a script that would take the average of the last two weeks (or the last month) and make that the new rate, so that I would preserve any improvement. Over time, it always trends in the right direction without pushing past what I already knew I could do (since I’d already done it). I didn’t lose gains in productivity, and it didn’t require a lot of thought about what the rate should be or how quickly I should be improving on one goal compared to another perhaps easier goal. (In fact, I may have just talked myself into going back to doing that now that I’m back in the saddle…)
All great advice so far! While I wouldn’t exactly call myself a veteran, I did use Beeminder for all of 2015, then stopped in early 2016, and have used it for all of 2018 so far, meaning I’ve been on here for a total of about 18 months, for what it’s worth. I’m going to echo advice that @philip gave in an old blog post some time ago that I’m having trouble locating at the moment: it’s easy to overload the system with either volume or intensity. When I started up again in the early days of 2018, I figured that I could handle quite a few goals right away because I had before. But the act of keeping up with all of them, even the really easy ones, was a new habit that I hadn’t gotten used to yet. I had a lot of derailments.
Assuming that you’ve figured out how many goals you can reasonably handle, you don’t want to overload your system with intensity. Generally, I only ramp up the difficulty of one, or at most two, goals at a time. Even when I’m already doing something at a rate equal to or greater than the new rate I’m dialing in, I pay some special attention to that goal for a week or two while the new rate is taking effect. I also increase rates very gradually. I had my Duolingo rate at 50 points a day for quite some time, and have now decided to double that and start taking my French learning more seriously. I just increased my rate to 60 points a day last week, and hope to have it at 100 points a day by the end of the summer, but I may take longer if I need to. Point being, the aphorism “know thyself” becomes critical here. You have to really pay attention to goals as you dial up the difficulty on them to make sure it’s working, and if it isn’t, it can be difficult to find out why if you aren’t paying attention.
A lot of that may very well be redundant, but I hope it helps you!
I’ve been noodling this morning on the concept of using Beeminder for tiny productive stressors that escalate in order to find productive equanimity for weekly output, and then how to expand that output in a healthy way.
I got the idea when hearing Rhonda Patrick talk about stressors in nutrition that elicit reactions from the body that end up being good for our health. Or even a simple gym example, periodization is something used effectively for growing strength, why wouldn’t it work for cognitive productivity?
So these posts combined with the “auto-dialing” concept mentioned above, should turn into something interesting.
I made myself a goal for updating all of my goals daily, even if I didn’t do anything towards them. I have this double-edged sword where I need things to start off easy so that I don’t just get overwhelmed and give up, but if it’s too easy then I just forget about it. Either that or it feels so insignificant that it doesn’t feel like progress at all.
I’m sure there’s some dialing and settings that might help this, but I thought this might be a good start.
AHA! I found the post I was talking about before! It’s not on the Beeminder blog, but it’s about Beeminder. When I wrote “slowing increasing difficulty” what I really wanted to say was “smoothly ratcheting targets” but I just couldn’t remember the phrasing.
Luckily @dreev did his post roundup and here we are:
If I understand the rolling window conception correctly there’s no setup for that, that’s just how Beeminder works. You start with some amount of safety buffer and it enforces an average… This post might help clarify: http://blog.beeminder.com/chunky
Is part of what you’re wondering about how to keep yourself from getting ahead of your goal and then not having to do any work for a little while (like if you do your target habit 6 times one week when you’re only enforcing 3, then you won’t have to do it again the week after, breaking your “rolling window”)?
If so, there’s a “Max Safe Days” feature that can make it so that you can never have more than X days off from your goal. Your road will move towards where you are, so that you can’t build up a huge buffer and then just fall off the habit by not having to do it for a while.
But ramp up slowly, whatever you decide. In terms of “veteran” advice, being overzealous has always been my own worse habit (and it’s way more destructive to habit-building than we ever expect it to be)… which is why I like taking my overly optimistic self out of it and letting settings do the trick.
That might actually be a second reason to use the “Max Safe Days” feature. If the absolute minimum frequency you want from yourself is what you Beemind (say twice a week is what you want to absolutely commit to), but you’d really prefer to try doing that thing every other day, then you can set your road’s rate to 2/week, and then set “max safe days” to 1 (every other day = only one day off allowed). That way if you wake up one morning and realize you can’t handle that frequency, you’re still on the hook for the twice a week commitment for the rest of the week (the “akrasia horizon”), but you can change the “max safe days” to 2 or 3 or whatever, which will stop enforcing the every other day rate. This can allow you to play around a little with ramping things up, but some safety & freedom to cry uncle more quickly as you try on the new rate for size, but to also have a bare minimum that you still have to adhere to no matter your other whims or temporary circumstances.