Beeminder Forum

Beeminder book club?


I’m in.

I’ve not yet read “The Willpower Instinct”.

I’m in! I suggest one thread per book, and perhaps use this current thread for book club meta discussions.

Pacing will be the biggest trick for me. I suggest we give people 1 month’s notice before beginning weekly discussions. That’s well past our akrasia horizons and seems like a more than reasonable amount of time for a new reading commitment, which is no small thing for me and I suspect others.

And I suggest no more than 1 book per month, although actual pace will depend entirely on the book.

I’ve read 25% of Dave Allen’s “Getting Things Done”. My sense is that completing it would be valuable. It feels at least Beeminder adjacent. It isn’t directly about procrastination or willpower per se, and isn’t exactly evidenced-based. But it prescribes a system that has throughly invaded the knowledge-worker lexicon — for instance it championed and I think even coined the term “inbox zero”.

+1 to “Thinking Fast and Slow”. Haven’t read it but wish to.

“Sapiens” is amazing. I’ve read it and definitely will again. It does not satisfy the actionable advice criteria suggested for adding books to this club’s list, but I found it to be chock full of social/biological/pre-historical contextual paradigm shifts and I think others here will also find it worthwhile.


His podcast is also a great archive on the topic


Hi folks!

I collected all the ideas, I think.

I am including a list of the titles, authors, amazon link, book length, audible link, and audible length.

I’ve got a poll here to help decide the first book. I’m thinking I’ll lead the first one, for sure, and then we’ll go from there.

Do not be sad if your favorite book isn’t chosen as the first pick. Please read any book on this list in any order, and post about it on the forums! You’ll probably influence the book choice and then you’ll have a bunch of people to discuss it with, just time-shifted.

Please only vote if you are interested in actually reading the book, whether on you own or as a group. Please don’t vote on which one sounds interesting but you know there’s no chance you’d ever read it.


I am redoing the poll here to make the votes public. Sorry! If you are one of the two voters who voted, please revote!

  • The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal Amazon (288 pgs, paperback), Audible (8:21)
  • Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts by Annie Duke Amazon (288 pgs, hardcover), Audible (6:50)
  • Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein, Amazon (312 pgs, paperback), Audible (11:26)
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman Amazon (499 pgs, paperback), Audible (20:02)
  • The Motivation Hacker by Nick Winter Amazon (138 pgs, paperback)
  • Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts–Becoming the Person You Want to Be by Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter, Amazon (277 pgs, hardcover), Audible (6:36)
  • Getting Things Done by David Allen, Amazon (352 pgs, paperback), Audible (7:21)
  • Solving the Procrastination Puzzle: A Concise Guide to Strategies for Change by Timothy A. Pychyl, Amazon (128 pgs, paperback), Audible (2:29)
  • Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport, Amazon (304 pgs, paperback), Audible (7:44)
  • Legend by David Gemmell, Amazon (344 pgs, paperback), Audible (13:13)
  • The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg, Amazon (416 pgs, paperback), Audible (10:53)
  • The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play by Neil Fiore, Amazon (244 pgs, paperback), Audible (7:28)
  • Choice and Consequence by Thomas C. Schelling, Amazon (379 pgs, paperback)
  • Carrots and Sticks: Unlock the Power of Incentives to Get Things Done by Ian Ayres, Amazon (“240 pgs”)
  • We Have Met the Enemy: Self-Control in an Age of Excess / Temptation: Finding Self-Control in an Age of Excess by Daniel Akst, Amazon (320 pgs, paperback)
  • The War of Art by Steven Pressfield Amazon (“192 pages”), Audible (2:54)
  • Breakdown of Will by George Ainslie, Amazon (“272 pages”)
  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, Amazon (464 pgs, hardcover), Audible (17:15)
  • Cognitive Productivity: Using Knowledge to Become Profoundly Effective by Luc P. Beaudoin, Amazon (“607 pgs”)
  • Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy Amazon (144 pgs, paperback)

0 voters


Any guidelines for voting for books we’ve already read? What if it’s been awhile? Should a vote imply a commitment to reread it?


I think a vote says you’re probably willing to follow some forum posts and follow a discussion.

If you haven’t read it, you should actually read it, not just a summary of it :slight_smile: If you have read it a long time ago and can’t really talk about it, probably don’t vote for it unless you are willing to at least skim it. If you just read it, I don’t think there’s any commitment at all to re-read.


Perfect! Another confusing thing is that there are books I’d commit to reading conditional on them winning this poll. Which means theoretically there’s a bad equilibrium possible where we’re all interested in a book only because we think everyone else is. Wait, this explains half of pop culture.


Yeah, it’s tricky. Maybe only vote for things you want to win, without committing to not joining in if another book you didn’t choose is chosen.

Voting is hard!


I mean, I’ll most likely read whatever book is chosen, but I only voted for the ones I think would be most helpful for me.


Just a word of caution: I’ve made the mistake of reading Allen’s GTD and I warn you that Sturgeon’s law applies almost perfectly to the contents of that book (only that instead of 90% you should probably use 95% or so). Sorry for being harsh, I just kind of feel an obligation to warn people.

I will vote soon, when I have some more time.


Hey! Loving the idea of doing a book club with all of you beepeople. I’m the only person I know who uses beeminder and my friends generally think that I’m crazy to use it (and yeah I’ve paid a lot…).

Anyways, quick comments .

  1. GTD is more a how to book. Like, only read it if you are ready to do GTD.
  2. Nick Winters’s book is good and inspiring (yes I bought it) but I can’t say that I got more than inspiration from it.
  3. The Now Habit was useful. The idea of the unschedule still shapes my thinking… well OK my life. So this is a great choice. I selfishly would like something else because I’ve read it,

I’m really interested in everyone’s thoughts here, so I’ll pretty much read whatever you choose. Even GTD…


Agreed, but its howtos would fit on an A4 page.


Wow, I could not fail to disagree with you less! I thought that book was gold and definitely falls within Ted Sturgeon’s 10% not-crap allocation. It’s full of really helpful suggestions, but most of all, it explains the complete, comprehensive, all-encompassing structure of the concept of organization, breaks it up into simple steps, and explains why partial attempts don’t work.

A lot of people make the mistake of thinking GTD is an organizational system - it’s not, and it can’t be compared to systems. It’s more like a logical, detailed, practical unraveling of the idea of organization.

I’d love to know why you thought 95% of the book was crap. I think it’s probably the best book on organization and time management out there.


Well, whatever it is, my impression was that it was extremely verbose, and all reasonable stuff in it (which does exist, I admit) could well fit onto an A4 sheet of paper. And a good part of the reasonable stuff is just common sense. While I wouldn’t call it “the worst book on organization and time management”, it’s probably well below the median.

I’d have to dig it up and look through it again - just out of curiosity and to see whether my opinion could change - but I definitely would not like to read it again. Half an hour is most I can afford to lose on that.


Well that explains it - for Americans it’s definitely not “common sense.” :wink:
(of course if it were that easy none of us would bee here!)

But now I’m curious what you think the best books are on time management and organization - I admittedly haven’t read that many.


I’m now reading through Covey’s “7 habits”. A very good book, I think.


And as more evidence that one book will never fit all, I read 7 Habits years ago and found it pretty much useless for me – a lot of it is about social engineering, and he doesn’t give nearly enough actionable steps for someone who is not naturally Good With People, other than “become Good With People”, which, believe me, I’d love to do if only I could figure out how :stuck_out_tongue:

I didn’t hate GTD, although found it too system-heavy for me to actually use for more than a year or so. The organizational book I found life-changing was Mark Forster’s Do It Tomorrow, which advocates daily closed will-do lists, as opposed to the open, endless, often demoralizing to-do lists of systems like GTD (it also has other features which are nice but haven’t been as HUGE for me). As someone who gets a huge kick out of crossing things off lists, being able to cross off my whole list everyday is incredibly motivating, and dovetails really well with beeminder. I’ve been using it (with various tweaks) for going on 4 years now, and it’s managed to make me more productive while also making me feel less anxious.


I had a lot to love about GTD, and it’s still the backbone of how I do work, but Do It Tomorrow got me turned onto The Amazing Marvin. Hiding the backlog is an amazing idea that makes me a literally happier person, every day.


Can you elaborate on how it works and the difference between Forster and Marvin? Sounds interesting!

“The Willpower Instinct”, Ch. 5
"The Willpower Instinct" Book Club, Intro and Ch. 1
"The Willpower Instinct" Book Club, Ch. 2
"The Willpower Instinct", Ch. 4
"The Willpower Instinct", Ch. 3

Hey guys,

I’m relatively new to organisational texts and am a recovering heavy akratic, so I’m keen to explore the rich world of tools and theories embedded in behavioural psychology and organisation!

I’ve just picked up Deep Work after hearing about the concept on multiple podcasts - so far it’s a well constructed tome on the necessity of deep, concentrated focus in the age of inattention.

Other than that, Triggers seems it might be an intriguing read, as I’ve been trying to establish a morning routine recently and it seems to be about habit change.