Archiving my goals as I don't have time for them

I don’t know how many hundreds (thousands??) of dollars I’ve given Beeminder now but I don’t have time to do the goals that I have set myself. It’s my fault that this has happened. I am too busy working on stuff for others (earning money).

None of my beeminder goals have helped me to achieve the work that I actually care about. I’m guessing that this means that I’ve set the wrong sort of goals.

If anyone has some useful advice for me then that would be great. For the meantime, I’m just going to beemind my sleep.


First off: Sorry you’re in this situation. The feeling of not having enough time for the important things is the worst. :frowning:

Here is my advice. I do not know if it will work for you.

Beeminder does not increase your capability to get things done. If you do not have enough time to do something without using Beeminder you will not have enough time to do something when using Beeminder. In particular Beeminder does not give you the ability to satisfy your goals. If you set goals that you can’t achieve then you will not achieve them.

What this means in practice: Your beeminder goal rates should not be set at a rate which is hard for you to achieve. The barrier to your achieving your beeminder goals should always be “I don’t want to”, not “I can’t”.

In general my experience is that the optimal beeminder goal is one where datapoints correspond directly to you doing something that you care about. A beeminder goal of “achieve this thing” just creates stress for me. A beeminder goal of “do this thing that will cause you to make progress towards your goal” is much more productive because it removes your ability to be sabotaged by external factors. Beemind diet, not losing weight. Beemind time spent on a task, not results achieved. etc.

If your constraining factor is time, I would recommend beeminding time. I use the tagtime android app for this but everyone looks at me funny when I explain how this works. The normal (well, normaller) person approach to this is to beemind pomodoros.

What I would suggest is this:

  1. Pick the most important of your current goals (in the “what you want to achieve” sense. This doesn’t need to correspond to an existing beeminder goal).
  2. Create an entirely brand new goal for beeminding time for it.
  3. Set the weekly time rate to it to something embarassingly easy to achieve. e.g. one pomodoro session a week.
  4. At the beginning of every week, assess how easy it was for you to achieve your goals last week. If the answer is “I could have very comfortably done more”, either add a new goal or increment the rate on the existing goal. If the answer is “That was a challenge”, make the goal where you most felt the effort : reward ratio wasn’t worth it a bit easier (feel free to do this earlier if necessary). Otherwise, don’t touch that dial.

If the money is a concern, you may also want to consider setting a very low pledge cap a la Bethany’s advice.

Final piece of advice: Don’t worry about archiving goals. Most goals don’t work out for me and I’ve got nearly 5 times as many archived goals as I do active. Experimenting is a good thing.


Hi Patrick! Sounds like a bad case of burnout

You’ve hit the nail on the head though: it’s all about achieving the work that you actually care about. Beeminder is just one tool and, like most tools, it’s one that works best if you can figure out how to use it in service of your real goals.

You’ve reflexively hit ‘archive’ on almost everything. Any time that you archive a Beeminder goal a good time to think about:

  • how does this goal serve the work I care about?
  • what else could I measure that might be more aligned with the underlying real-world goal?
  • if this is a useful goal, is the slope appropriately aggressive / conservative?

Take advantage of this last week while you’re archiving to adhere closely to the spirit of each goal rather than the strict letter of your fine print. That might help you discover an adjacent restatement of the goal that serves you better.

I really like that you’ve kept your sleep goal, because I think it’s important to beemind the things that keep us on an even keel. For me, that includes going for walks and exercising regularly. I don’t need to beemind the intensity or to push myself, just to remind myself regularly of the practices that keep me (moderately) sane.

Consider creating a meta goal to keep yourself on top of whatever system you use to focus on what you want to achieve. I’ve got meta goals that encourage me to reflect, to do my weekly reviews, and to ensure regular-but-non-specific progress.

I also like that you’re re-starting small. It’s a common pattern to start beeminding all the things! and lose sight of what matters. The easiest way to break any system is to overload it, and with Beeminder that usually manifests as lots of ‘goals’ that aren’t directly related to a real-world lifetime-scale-important goal, all with slopes that constantly demand immediate attention every day and don’t leave time for the stuff that actually matters.

We are, all of us, getting better at making the best use of Beeminder to achieve our important goals. Sometimes that requires a period of contraction and reflection. Like David says, we’ve got plenty of archived goals to prove it; my current count is 57, and the experiments continue.

As much as it sucks that you’ve reached this point of overwhelm, your response to the situation is promising. I’m certain that you’ll discover a goal structure that supports (and accelerates) your achievement of the work that you actually care about. Keep us posted on how you go.


Hi Patrick,

When this kind of feeling happens to me, I flatten the roads on all of my goals (or triple the roads on my do-less goals) and then keep tracking without requiring anything of myself. After a little while, I see what the amount is that I do “naturally”, without being forced to do it, and that gives me a good idea of what kind of road rate I should set (which should be, I think, to do just a little better than I’m doing on my own, until I get used to that, and then can crank it up a little).

When I look at your current goals, the slopes all look like they stay at the same steepness after you derail as they were before. A derail is a deterrent, but it’s also information. I think if you derail, it’s a good time to drastically reduce the road rate on that goal. I also think it can be worth reducing the road rate on your goals when you start to get that frenzied feeling that there’s just too much to do sometimes, even if you’re not derailing or feeling all the way to the burnout point yet.

I’m such a fan of starting goals slowly and seeing how I do, that I put together some script, through the API, that will take the average for the last 28 days, and make that my new road rate on the specified goals. That way, I can start with a flat road, and then only be forced to keep doing at least as well as I have been been doing. On those goals, I end up maintaining progress, but not being crazily unrealistic about how much I do. And it can be fun to see how much further ahead I can get on this goal or that than I have been doing (the efforts then push up the average, and so the rate I have to maintain as well). That’s a great tool to help with my unreasonable goal-setting tendencies. You’re welcome to check out that script if you’d like: [Edit: updated link:]

Finally, if your goals aren’t goals you care about, Beemind the ones that you do. What is the stuff that you care about? Are there ways you can quantify those? Maybe just leave the other goals flat for now and track them without enforcing action while you work on incorporating the stuff that you feel is missing?

I hope some of what everyone’s said so far helps.


Reducing goals you regularly derail on is a good point, thanks. Have just reduced one of mine that I had set too high


I think it’s worth reducing the rate nearly every time I derail, not just if I’m derailing regularly. (Whether I actually do that or not is a very different thing, of course… Cause “This time… this time is the time…” But I think that’s part of the akrasia package: not being able to shift expected outcomes in response to important information about time, energy, etc.)


First of all, please let me thank you all for taking the time to share your thoughts. I appreciate it. I will re-read your replies again this evening and see if I can get a plan out of them.

Secondly, I hope you’ll let me explore some points as getting on top of this and back “on the road” is something very important to me.

The range of goals that I was Beeminding were designed to get me past my procrastination. Almost every goal was set at a rate based getting the most out of that intention in the first place. Examples include:

  1. Get your tasks out of your head and organised in a manner that lets you do them (“Getting Things Done” styles) and have the list of things for tomorrow planned the night before so that you can make the most of a fresh mind in the morning.
  2. Complete memory cards based using Anki the spaced repetition system so that you have the reminder before leaving them too long and forgetting them.
  3. Complete the work required to prep for and tidy up after my income stream (TV contractor) every few days. My ability to do a good job is all about the prep that is required for each job and that the info needed to do this tends to arrive a couple of days ahead.
  4. Daily meditation tends to bring some definite benefits to the mind’s well-being, if completed successfully for a couple of weeks.

Each of these goals was set at a rate that would give days off each week anyway.

The only goal that was set to something not based on the action required itself was my version of pomodoro’s, 45 minute project blocks. I was trying to get six of those done per week. This is the thing that I need to do. The rest is just there to get my world organised and me out of procrastination mode so that I can do this one thing.

I feel like I’ve been using Beeminder as I should be, based on real life requirements in order to make my world work, using the stick to get me past daily procrastination.

This brings me to the pledge caps which were introduced sometime since I started using Beeminder. I think they serve a purpose but I think they also defeat the point. By default it appears that my pledge caps are set at $90. I really don’t care about money. I need the stuff to live and I would like to pay off the credit card debt I took to make my world practical but I’m not about to buy a house. Instead, I care about getting my “pomodoro’s” done and my project off the ground. I haven’t like watching my efforts to pay off my credit card be undone as money left for going off the road but $90 isn’t the end of the world for me. $270 or more would be more in the realm of “bad, real bad”. I think pledge caps have just done the same thing to me the initial rates of pledge increases used by Beeminder before the large jumps in pledges was instituted. (I’m having trouble finding the correct blog article but here and here will do).

I’m not sure what to say now but that my TV work world has got out of control. My last day off work or prepping for work was the 5th of January. The next will be the 5th of April. This has definitely made keeping up with my goals difficult but over half of my goals are there directly to facilitate getting that stuff under control each week.

Yes, I agree. It’s there to get past procrastination. It has helped me in this regard. I feel like I’m ending up at a conclusion of it probably sort of worked because I haven’t procrastinated much except for the periods when my mind has been sludge because I get home completely knackered from work. This still adds up to quite a bit of time but you head needs quite a bit of time for turning off each week to function well. Congrats it worked.

However this also feels unsatisfactory to me, like I’ve missed the point. I’ve set myself up to tread water indefinitely rather than to swim to where I want to go.


This is very well said. About to highlight this in the daily beemail.

Also, want to reemphasize “Beating Beeminder Burnout”, as @philip mentioned.

And @mary’s point that after derailing you should probably dial that road way down and reassess what steepness you really want. I’m also very excited about @mary’s “auto-dialer” (starting flat and automatically dialing up road steepness to match what you’ve done so far). It’s probably something we’ll want to build in to Beeminder eventually and are eager to help make easy to use as a 3rd party tool in the meantime.

Finally, remember the Want-Can-Will Test which I think of as an admonition to only beemind what you’re egregiously akratic about.

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