While checking my list of goals and thinking how I can get my safety buffer up to a decent level is certainly a strong habit by now, most of the things that I beemind are not, even though I’ve been doing many of them for months now – and in fact some of them have been habits at one time or another but aren’t right now. I think for most of my goals, it would be a good thing if the action of starting to do them was a habit – even if the thing itself is not. That would let me do more with less mental effort.
Beeminder actually is ANTI-habit forming to some extent: I’ll go to do something automatically, then I’ll think first to check my goals, and notice that that either my target safety buffer is OK (7 days or more) or perhaps just isn’t actually about to derail, and I’ll think hey, I don’t need to do that today (in fact it may be that it happens the other way around more often: I’ll have checked early in the day where I am with goals, so I’ll know I can dismiss the prod of a habit when it crops up). That does reduce consistency and frequency, which we hear are important for habit formation. Of course in the bigger picture, for avoiding falling off the wagon entirely, or letting one crisis mess up everything else you’re trying to be consistent about, beeminder helps a lot. That’s certainly a positive thing, including for habit formation.
So, I’m thinking how to better install or reinforce habits while using beeminder. Here are some that occur to me, most of which I’m not really doing yet.
Set your goal’s target to 7 per week “don’t-break-the-chain” style, or just using a conventional DBTC system for a while for that. I would say after a gentler period of acclimatisation if there’s anything remotely aversive about the habit, to avoid setting yourself up to fail.
Something I’ve done accidentally that has helped a little: I start my goals with no safety buffer (or maybe a day or so’s buffer). This does force you to do the goal consistently for a little while at least, while you try to build up to a decent safety buffer. It also has the benefit of stopping you piling on too many goals too quickly.
I was thinking maybe an aggday function that rewards consistency, but aggday functions have no memory of previous days. The kind of rule I have in mind is: for doing the goal today, if you also did it yesterday, you get 3 points, otherwise, you get 2. Maybe there’s another type of function in there that allows hooking this? Say a function that takes the data for the past week and returns the number for today. I guess that could run instead of the aggday function, or it could run after the aggday. Of course you could always simulate this by hand.
With the trigger-action-reward model in mind: Beemind doing the action IN RESPONSE to the trigger. If you do it some other time, it doesn’t count.
Have you tried any of these? Which worked / didn’t work?
What else could I do?