Idea status: I just started this goal today. I’ve no idea if it will work. My weirder beeminder experiments have a very high failure rate (if you don’t count the stuff I do with tagtime, it’s basically 100%), so it probably won’t. I present this idea more for your amusement and consideration than as a thing I recommend following.
I use caffeine a fair bit. My actual daily levels are relatively low right now, but getting them down to zero is not a thing I’ve ever managed to consistently do. What instead happens is that every now and then I go cold turkey for a while and am miserable until I start taking caffeine again.
I’ve tried to use Beeminder to keep my coffee intake under control in the past and have mostly run into the fact that do less goals just do not work for me at all (psychologically, not technically), so I’m trying a new thing.
My caffeine intake on a given day is actually naturally self-limiting, in that it is based on my current tolerance levels. If I currently have no caffeine tolerance I’m not going to drink a pint of coffee, because I’ll feel useless and terrible afterwards!
So instead the goal structure I want is something that stops me from building up that tolerance. I already have the habit that does that - taking a period without caffeine - but I need a way of beeminding doing that. So the obvious starting point is to beemind days without any caffeine.
But not all average rates are created equal: Two days in a row without caffeine is much better for resetting tolerance than one day on, one day off, one day on, one day off (I don’t actually have science to support this, but it matches my experience and makes intuitive sense).
So I’m revisiting an old idea of mine: triangular beeminding (note: This didn’t work very well in its original incarnation).
The idea is that the first day without caffeine is worth one point, the second two points, etc.
Hopefully this should work very well, because as well as creating an incentive that matches the behaviour I want, it should also create a strong “Don’t break the streak” effect: I’ve been doing this for five days! I can’t stop now.
- I’ve got the rate set to 4 / week (I started at 7/week but then immediately decided this was too harsh)
- This means that if I take a 3 day break every week then I achieve my goal
- It also means that if I take a whole week off then I can drink caffeine for the next 3-4 weeks straight
- The triangles haven’t really worked well for me in the past. I believe I understand why and they mostly don’t apply here (I’ve used them with do less goals in the past, and on the do more goals I’ve used them on I mostly just found them not very helpful but that was on points on a given day)
- The obvious failure mode is that this will cause me to feel like I have “permission” to take a lot more caffeine on the days that I’m caffeinated. I actually consider this an acceptable failure mode, both because of the self-regulating thing and also because I really mind the dependence more than I mind caffeine usage.