I have a queue at work that is sometimes empty and sometimes very full. It fills up at wildly different rates throughout the year; there is no limit on how large it can get when we’re busy, or on how many weeks in a row it can stand empty when we’re not; and similarly, what counts as a reasonable turnaround time on an individual queue item varies dramatically depending on what time of year it is.
My tendency is to ignore my queue when it’s only a little full, and then to panic and binge-work when it’s very full. My goal is to be more consistent about working slowly-but-steadily at my queue any time it’s got anything in it.
If I just set my beeminder goal to “clear X things from my queue a week,” or “spend X hours a week working on my queue,” I will automatically fail at times when the queue is empty. And if I set my beeminder goal to “keep queue under X length” or “attend to queue items within X days,” I will automatically fail at times when the queue spends weeks or months filling up faster than any human could empty it.
What might be a better metric to use for this?
(I suppose I could do something like “clear k items from my queue every day, where k is the lesser of X or the queue size at the start of the day,” but I don’t feel great about having a goal with subclauses like that. Is that an aversion I should get over?)