Beeminding frequency of checking email

Can I use Beeminder to break the habit of checking email too frequently? I.e. by targeting a goal of no more than 5x / day or something like that?

I realize this is more complex than a “feature request” given different email providers and platforms …even just sticking with gmail, for example, I don’t know if “# of logins in last 24 hours” (or whatever) is available in the API that Beeminder uses for Inbox Zero.

And I’m not even sure which trackable action on the website / device would correspond to what we think of as “checking email” – like if the gmail app on my phone is always pulling new emails in the background, that’s not the data I want, right? It’s every time I open it. But if it’s already open in the background, it’s not even that, but every time I bring it up on screen. And what if I’ve left gmail open in a browser at home while I’m out all day?

Anyway I’m sure this is something others have thought about and just wanted to get any thoughts that people have had about it, or partial implementations to date.


What if you had a starred email in your inbox that served as a template that you could forward to Beeminder every time you opened your email? The content could just be ^ 1 (with the subject as “username/checkemailless”). That way you could quickly forward it to bump up the datapoint every time you jump into your email.

That, or maybe we could put some kind of API bookmarklet together that you could keep on your bookmark bar or your phone’s home screen and click to +1 the goal. (I use Workflow on iOS to do this for a number of goals.)


I did exactly this, for checking email on my Android device. I set up a task in Tasker that sent a datapoint of 1 to a beeminder goal every time I brought the Gmail app to the foreground (as you say, it did not just count opening it but bringing it up on the screen). This worked pretty well – the only strange thing was that if I clicked on a link in an email that took me to another app (e.g. a browser) when I returned to Gmail it would count another +1. In the end I came to think of this as a feature since it made me consider very carefully which embedded links I really needed to follow. =)

Of course this only works if (a) you primarily check email on your (b) Android device. But it might be possible to do something similar on an iOS device, I am not sure.


Don’t neglect the option of a wholly-manual solution…

You could create a ‘do less’ goal and update it whenever you catch yourself checking email. That increased consciousness may well be sufficient to alter your behaviour.



(Which is why I like having a template or a Workflow trigger that I have to click, myself, for bad habits.)