Automated @reply zero gmail goal ~3 times a week

Just wanted to copy a recent conversation with the awesome Chelsea, in case someone here had any ideas. The new search criteria for gmail goals is really cool, but it looks like there still isn’t an easy way to automate what I’ve been doing manually with my current Reply Zero Once A Week goal.


Hi! I’m not sure if this is possible, but I thought I’d check just to
see. Thanks to Beeminder, I’ve been achieving Inbox Zero pretty much
every day (often multiple times a day) for the last several years.
I’ve also been using a manual Do More goal to give myself a point
every time I get my emails labeled @reply down to zero, with an
expectation of achieving that at least once a week. It’s actually been
more like three days out of the week, which I think is pretty
sustainable. I was trying to fiddle with a new gmail goal to make
this happen automatically, but I’m not sure it’s possible. For
instance, right now my @reply label is at zero. But if I get 10 new
messages to reply to tomorrow and I don’t decide to answer them all
until Friday, I’ll derail, right? Is there any way to make a custom
goal so my “get @reply to zero” rule is every few days rather than
every day? If not, no problem. Just thought I’d ask!


I don’t think there’s an easy way. You could do a lot of crazy step scheduling in your graph (like people who schedule all their weekends off, you’d schedule every 3rd day to drop to 0 - sorta like my abandoned-for-now goal here). But that’s lots of work right now!

Maybe the gmail api that we’re using could be used to build a script that’d send a datapoint to your current goal every time @reply is 0, then set the rate to ~2/week? Not that I know how to do that, but maybe you do…

Oh! Or! Maybe you just create a gmailzero goal that you’re not really beeminding, but then you use IFTTT to say “if the gmailzero datapoint = 0, then update my reply-zero goal.” Although I see there’s no conditioning on the IFTTT trigger, so it’ll add a point anytime, not just if that point is 0.

So this long email is kind of completely unhelpful, but might be inspiring? (I wonder if it’s easy to add that conditioning on our triggers? You can use filters with some Zapier app triggers…)


On the chance that you are a programmer, you could run a custom script as a cron job somewhere, since it is pretty easy to ask the Gmail API for how many messages match a search. To satisfy the once-a-day requirement, the script would either need to keep state, or you would need to use a custom aggregation function on the goal to collapse all the 1s into a single 1 for the day.

Sorry if this is useless to you!

1 Like

Sounds like a brilliant solution, but sadly my coding skills are pretty much completely negligible. Thanks, though! (’:

For almost-programmers, the script in my GitHub can add a datapoint to one goal based on a datapoint added to some other goal. Minimal coding required, and maybe a perl module install. If anyone gives it a go, let’s update the documentation to describe the necessary hoop-jumping.

Adding a zero datapoint might be a common enough case to warrant adding an IFTTT trigger. Likewise non-zero. I don’t know what a sane release cycle for those is likely to be. @bee?

1 Like