Beeminder Forum

Beeminding Fun

I asked the following in a beemail and got some great responses so I figured I’d collect them here…

Thanks to @rperce in the community Discord for the reminder that beeminding fun things feels pretty great. It’s like being granted permission by your wise past-self to indulge in something (woodworking in @rperce’s case). Personally I beemind reading fiction and I think I could stand to add more things.

STRAW POLL: What fun things do you beemind?

Responses so far:

  1. reading fiction / listening to audiobooks
  2. solving competitive programming problems
  3. art practice
  4. making a family book
  5. playing music
  6. playing video games
  7. reading webcomics
  8. unmentionable (but wholly benign, I promise) things
  9. knitting / crafting
  10. picking fun things for one’s mustdo

And here’s me debating this with resident curmudgeon, @lanthala, who thinks beeminding fun is as bad an idea as trying to monetize one’s hobbies:

It may not be worth it to monetize a hobby (I suspect it rarely is) but it makes no sense to have disutility for the actual getting of money. Similarly, it makes no sense to me to have any aversion to Beeminder saying you have to do something that you want to do anyway. Are you susceptible to reverse psychology? Someone else wanting you to do something makes you not want to?

But if it just doesn’t work for you emotionally, to turn having fun into an obligation, that I can’t argue with! I recommend trying it at least though.

@lanthala also points out, correctly, that you may not want to commit to Currently Fun Thing because what if it doesn’t stay fun? But it’s always at most a week from changing your mind to being off the hook so if it’s otherwise valuable (as it sounds like in @lanthala’s case it isn’t, which is fine) then that may be a fine and fair price to pay. Or of course pay the literal price, which also might be a fine and fair price to pay to change your mind about a previously valuable commitment.

For further debate on that last point, see the excellent forum thread that @shanaqui started about what to do when a book you’re beeminding your way through turns out to suck: Reading goal dilemma - #13 by dreev


But mostly for this thread, let’s collect more examples of beeminding hobbies and recreation and other fun things!

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I think beeminding fun is especially useful for people like me who may default to low-quality fun, when higher-quality fun options exist. Or folks who tend to skip fun and play altogether. I think both situations are worth correcting using Beeminder.

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I would agree that Beeminding higher-quality leisure activities could be a good pathway here, but I personally haven’t committed to making a Beeminder goal for any ones other than reading. I feel as though that these high-quality leisure efforts should only be incentivised through intrinsic motivation alone, else they become just another task or thing to do.

It depends on what kind of high-quality leisure one has in mind, but for some of things I would like to pursue (woodworking, playing piano, writing), there is a kind of inertia to get started. You have to learn, apply what you’ve learnt, and eventually feel some kind of competence, before you actually get to the ‘fun’/‘joyous’ part. I’m not sure if Beeminder has the flexibility to kickstart new high-quality leisure pursuits, and even then, if it’s the right way to incentivise things you want to do (or want to want to do).

BUT, I do want to try it to see if beeminding leisure works, especially as a way of converting my time spent in leisure that doesn’t align as much with my values. Can anyone point to experiences of successfully doing this?

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Hey, that’s me!

Besides my point to @dreev about “past me gave me permission to spend time on this”, I also definitely agree with @narthur that it’s been helping me spend more time on high-quality, value-aligned fun. Besides the woodworking goal mentioned above, I also have a goal for piano practice - @cael, I can’t help your question, really, because piano isn’t really a new leisure for me - i’m just finally getting back to it after a few years… but i’ve definitely enjoyed getting back into it, and i definitely didn’t get back into it without making a beeminder goal!

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Leisure activities I’ve do-more beeminded at one time or another:

  • Stardew Valley
  • Mindfulness
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Contributing to this forum
  • Practicing tactile skills (anything counted that was tactile and skill-based)
  • Socializing

I’m probably forgetting something.

Coming up with this list makes me think that the line between leisure activities and everything else we might want to do can get pretty blurry.

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Rather late, but just chiming in to say that a fun thing that I beemind is drawing emojis! I decided out of the blue back in June that I wanted to draw every single emoji digitally, so I started a beeminder goal, and I’ve got 573 already drawn!

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I took up playing the bass last year, and one of my beeminding goals is to practice at least 4 times a week. I’m only playing the bass for fun - I don’t have any professional aspirations or anything like that - so you might think, if it’s not fun enough to choose to do, why make myself? But playing the bass is one of many things in my life that are fun only when I actually do them. When I don’t do them, I don’t want to do them. So it seems to be working out OK for me.

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I got a drum kit during lockdown and after playing it a few times it just sat there collecting dust. It’s super fun just to play, but I have a hard time getting away from my screens. So I have a weekly goal to drum and it’s working!

Been thinking about setting other fun goals too, but also didn’t want to overwhelm myself.

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I used Beeminder as a gratitude journal before! I set it at 3 times a day, and put a brief note about what I was grateful for each time I logged a “point.”

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Ooh, @mufflon’s excellent drum kit story reminds me of our “Beemind What You Buy” blog post!

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That’s so funny. Yes, exactly that! I bought a bunch of lockdown things, including Kettlebells too!

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Thanks for posting that reference article, what a great idea.

Just for posterity, and because I think it’s particularly well-written (@bee wrote most of it), here’s the monthly beemail we turned this into:

Many of you are here because you felt like you were failing at some critical thing you expected of yourself and you wanted this extra accountability. Outsource willpower. Nannybot to tell you what to do. Hold your feet to the fire, etc.

But have you ever tried beeminding something fun? We think it’s pretty great, speaking as Beeminder users ourselves! If you’re a workaholic or even just a time-disarrayed procrastinator, maybe it would be really nice to be granted permission by your wise past-self to indulge in some hobby (woodworking? piano practice? knitting dishcloths? watching trashy tv?) that you otherwise never feel like you have time for, or that you might even feel guilty for spending time on.

But you don’t have to take our word for it! To quote a real-live Beeminder user from the forum (it’s @narthur, of TaskRatchet.com fame):

Just a thought. Some of you think this is dumb and you should argue with us at [link to this forum thread].

Related reading from recent blog posts: “everything is incentive alignment”, “is Beeminder a crutch?”, and “naming your goals”. (Ok, that last one has nothing to do with accountability, harsh mistressing, or beeminding fun, but we like it and it’s another handy PSA!)

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