Beeminding order from numbness

My brain responds to uncertainty, ambiguity, and anxiety by having me slowly withdraw into a cocoon.

When I withdraw from life, It almost always feels like I’m being strategic - just waiting until I

  • read more
  • ruminate more

Then, I will finally draw the right connections, and come up with a brand new, clever way to do the thing that I’ve been obsessing over.

But it never happens. Because the reality is I am waiting until I don’t feel anxious before I act. I have been aware of this pattern for quite so time in, but it’s hard to catch when you’re just “in the moment” (not in the sense of being present, just in the sense of minute-to-minute).

This withdrawal only leads to more feelings of uncertainty and angst as I realize how much I don’t know. Wrong part of the Dunning-Krueger curve I suppose.

I respond to this by numbing. Not really with drugs or alcohol anymore, just with little tasks that feel like I’m making progress. But they’re just tasks that don’t make me anxious, and I need to get through the ones that make me anxious. So hours turn to days turn to weeks turn to year. Lot’s of motion but displacement.

This pattern is my #1 obstacle in life. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to say that - I don’t know how things would have turned out were it not for my supportive and loving family and friends. Living in my car most likely.

Beeminder hasn’t helped me get past this block that much over the years despite being an extremely heavy user because of this. Time-based goals can easily be hit by getting stuck in this cycle, outcome-based goals lead to constant derailments or mission creep.

I’ve finally, finally realized that what I need this whole time was to be using TaskRachet and Compice’s Stakes to get unstuck. Beeminder’s week-long akrasia horizon’s and day-in-day-out commitments weren’t going to be me over the top.

Seriously. Huge, HUGE thank you to @narthur from TaskRachet and @malcolm from Complice. I went from 5 months spiraling into numbness in my job search to being active on LinkedIn and having interviews every other day.

The main role beeminder plays is getting me to create those tasks. But now I think it’s time to reassess what beeminder can do for me now that I’m not trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. So this journal is here in part to make sure that I’m:

  1. Coming back to my goals and thinking about them. Not just creating new ones or browsing the forums.
  2. Reasoning through it better, as I know someone can read my thoughts

That said, I haven’t done that here today. That’s because my beeminder goal was to post here. So I guess this is kind of a reflection on that.

I don’t feel numb today. I feel excited :slight_smile:


That’s super encouraging to hear that one-off commitments have been so helpful for you! Looking forward to hearing how things go as you continue figuring this stuff out!


Thanks again!

For some insight, I’ve found that the ingredients for a good beeminder goal are the same for a good TaskRachet tasks.

Or rather, that the ones most likely to really succeed come in groups, with the stress being on inputs first and foremost.

For example, let’s say I’ve got to reply to a message from someone new on LinkedIn.

(My thoughts, if you're curious)

My brain goes crazy here because I overthink when I can’t read someone’s face/hear their tone of voice/writing/etc.

LinkedIn is a text-based professional network, so everyone tries to sound vaguely like a PR manager.

I’ll set 3 tasks:

* [ ] 7:00 pm - Start (open a blank note and start typing)
* [ ] 7:15 pm - Time-based goal (15 minutes writing or send)
* [ ] 7:30 pm - Finish

I almost never need a task to mark the outcome complete in order to get it done. It just acts as sort of a little extra stick, like, “hey, we’re sending this anyway. We’re writing it right now. I think we’re…done?”

Half an hour to send a DM might seem like a lot - but I can assure you that this can easily save me an entire day’s worth of rumination and distraction.

Fortunately, my “Akrasia horizon” for these kind of tasks is sometimes as little as 15 minutes, so I’ll be pretty gung-ho about setting them. Beeminder acts as a failsafe here.


Speaking of inputs vs. outputs! The output-focused goal on this of all goals led me to some derails - I keep getting distracted by other beeminder tweaks/edge skating. I should create a second goal for time.

The stick tradeoff that plagues me with beeminder/toggl is that the autodata deadlines are stuck at midnight, but the earlier/manual goals make it easy to derail by accident. The issue is that while the deadlines can be rolled forward they can’t be rolled backward. This could be a problem for some, but In my case I really need to get started/wrap up earlier.

It also kind of undermines the point of autodata. i just want my toggl hours to be due at 6pm :frowning:

Now, the alternative is setting up a secondary goal and using (formerly integromat), but this doesn’t always scale well with the number of beeminder goals I have going at a time. I tend to run out of operations.

Not always sure about this type of autodata goal, but I guess I’m learning javascript.

The question is - should I be learning javascript? It’s not directly relevant for a career goal - but I often find myself wishing I knew just a little bit. It would help with custom obsidian plugins. Knowing a bit more about backend stuff would be cool too.

That’s why I set it up - so that if I end up needing to read some JS code, I won’t be going “damn, I wish I had set up that beeminder goal.”

It’s a somewhat low-effort goal. At first, I had one exercise due a day, but they’re quite easy at the beginner level.


JavaScript is far from the best language (citation :smile:) but some knowledge of it is certainly useful. It lets you add simple (or complex!) dynamic features to web pages, write or modify userscripts for adjusting the behaviour of websites you don’t own, write scripts you can run on a command line with node.js (e.g., for using Beeminder’s API), and as you say, write or modify Obsidian plugins. Since you already have a little interest in it, yes, learn it! It will give you more power and control over the computers and online resources that you use, and you’re likely to find more ways that its useful to you as your exposure to it increases.


Totally agree with this sentiment! I’m far from designing actual production software, but even I know that javascript has some ridiculous features.

Like '3' == 3 being true makes my brain melt from my ears


Heh, yes, exactly. It’s enraging. :slight_smile: You probably already know this, but just in case, always use ‘===’ rather than ‘==’ (or ‘!==’ not ‘!=’). Brief reference: Which equals operator (== vs ===) should be used in JavaScript comparisons? - Stack Overflow


Don’t know how deep you guys intend to go with js, but typescript + eslint can do wonders for your sanity when working with js.


Yeah, I plan on jumping to typescript sooner rather than later as far as my journey here goes. Although it’s not a big priority

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For my journal review, a set up this toggl goal. It’s only for 6 minutes a day, which isn’t nearly enough.

I do find it a very rewarding activity, though. It’s just painful to do. It’s hard to watch yourself struggle, and my journal tends toward documenting that process.


  • it would be due first thing in the morningm before all other goals
  • I would otherwise have the same toggl + beeminder workflow

But we don’t have those options :frowning:

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I’ve struggled a lot with coming up with a mental health workflow, because there are a bunch of things I should be doing, but this ends up creating a lot overhead in the setup because they need be:

  • time-based
  • due early
  • tracked in toggl

So I need to end up looping in third party automations that I can’t really afford right now.

Custom deadlines for toggl autodata could just make my life sooo much better.

Although I guess if a single beeminder autodata integration could have that much of an impact, then it’s worth it to pay for the third party stuff.

But it’s a pain and it’s not flexible, so I end up in this dependency loop of upfront time investment into this process that I never end up making. Why? Because I’m doing all the painful reflections necessary at like 11:30pm!

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I want to try incoporating this tool on task prioritization to help deal with some of this prioritizing.

It should be easy to pull task from a bookmarklet, no?

OMG I totally missed this happening - custom deadlines for toggl!!! I am so so so happy to see this :smiley: Like, I’ll have to double check that I’m not hallucinating from lack of sleep

Thank you beeminder team! :heart_eyes:



Glad you like it! Let us know if you see anything wonky…

(Did you notice that refreshing Toggl is faster than it used to be, too?)


Yep! It does seem to have been sped up a bit.

My first Monday with earlier toggl deadlines has been great so far - I feel much better knowing that I can get a lot of dreaded activities done earlier without having to struggle with my brain about it late into the evening

It’s only day 2, it’s close to midnight and I don’t have any beemergencies to dispatch. I had a couple more to set. Now the latest toggl goal I have set (exercise) is due at 10pm.

All basically all mental health goals are due at the beginning of the day. Reviewing my journal, writing about my values, etc.

Now, I had a light schedule beeminder-wise for these past couple days. So I’m due for a rude awakening soon as much of my routine shifts forward like 6-10 hours. I’m sure there will be a lot of hiccups, I’ve rather haphazardly set deadlines throughout the day

This is what I’ve wanted beeminder to be for me since the beginning: something that actually cares when I do things because I sorely lack anybody in that role.

TaskRachet/Complice stakes are good for tasks, but half the time I use those features it’s just to get me to spend time doing stuff earlier than I otherwise would

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This adjustment has actually been easier than I thought it would be. And since I’ve staggered them, It’s easier to get started on other things. I moved some goals up a couple of hours today

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So it’s been a while since I posted, and the reason was that I was unemployed for long and so broke that beeminder ceased to be a credible threat since I was ultimately borrowing money from my parents.

But on the bright side, I got a job!

I think I was able to keep it together since I got super involved in some state and local political stuff that had a sense of community and urgency.

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Congrats on the job! Are you still using one-off goals?

In a stride of destiny, I happen to run into your topic as I’m procrastinating on the important tasks of my day.

Manic bee-user ramblings

I do the same as you; do small tasks to feel productive, but don’t do the one that is important because of an irrational fear that makes things harder over time.

It can spiral out into a similar numbness; I stop interacting with the whatever as a vague connection with the task and wait for a breakthrough to save me (which happens after a few months, but now, it’s a bit late - sometimes it turns out for the task to be quite effortless).

Sometimes, I even take psychostimulants, but I can’t still do the task.
So, I end up being very efficient at doing my Beeminder tasks, cleaning the house, surfing the web.

Everything, except working on the thing I should, even though I have enough time.
It’s not about executive dysfunction anymore; I could stick with the task if I choose to.
I’ve now realized that the issue lies deeper. Is it what people describe as Akrasia?

Here’s the fix I’ll try:

  • create a Beeminder goal called “stake money”. It will force me to stake money on my day. Ideally, I won’t be affected by Akrasia, so I will pick the task that needs it the most.
  • actually stake some money every day using Complice

It would be nice if I could stake money to do a task in the future; e.g. stake $10 to come here and give an update. Maybe I should take a look at TaskRatchet?