Beeminding your reading, page count vs time

Continuing the discussion from Beeminding with small kids:

They’re definitely different, each good for different purposes. Like a lot of things, it can be worth beeminding both metrics, one of which is liable to eep on a given day and keep you balanced.

Having said that, I also have a ‘pages’ goal rather than a ‘time’ goal for my reading, but on busy eep days I definitely pick an easier read that I can whiz through my quota of pages. Similarly, when counting pages there’s a danger of skimming over tough material.

Also: see @djahandarie’s awesome visualisation

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Time vs count seems like a fundamental question for most beeminding.

Time is an input, doesn’t guarantee that you’ll accomplish anything, and you need to manage your on-task-focus, etc.

Count is an output, or a proxy to an outcome. Depending on how good of a proxy it is, there’s no guarantee that you’re progressing toward the outcome or that you won’t find ways to artificially maximise the proxy measure.

Reading gives us a good example of both those things. Measuring time might encourage distraction and daydreaming, Measuring pages might encourage skimming. Even reading itself is just a proxy for entertainment, education, etc. It’s proxies all the way down.


There’s also a discussion about this in the Beeminding book reading thread


I am firmly in the “beemind all the things for your goals” camp.

Blog posts? Beemind the number of posts, and the number of days you post,
and maybe even the number of words you post, now that the word count IFTTT
macro exists. Each is a weasel guard against a different thing.


Or for the über-scrupulous, you might feel compelled to not skim when you should be skimming, because you’ve committed to number of pages and don’t want to be weaselly or mess up your data, even when you get to a super boring part of the book.


I will reiterate that this solves all the problems people have with tracking time. :smile:

Whenever I have a tagtime goal for reading I only count the time if I was actually focused on reading when the buzzer goes off.


This happened to me. It was one of only two times a Beeminder goal actually negatively impacted the outcome it was designed to improve. I found myself slogging through pages pointlessly when it clearly would have been better to just fly over them. This is precisely why I no longer count pages (with one unimportant exception) and only count time now. I would never go back to counting pages. (I might treat fiction differently, if I Beeminded reading fiction.)

I definitely want to avoid any temptation to read “quick to read” material and avoiding the harder, slower material just for the sake of getting through the goal more quickly. Unless you’re talking about reading stories (assuming you’re not talking about reading stories in the way that a lit major would, for example, and needed to think critically about them while you were reading), time is the way to go IMO.

(PS - I tried a variety of multipliers to use when skimming, etc. All of those were a pain, not especially accurate anyway, and way less useful than just counting time.)



One of the ways I’ve tackled this is that I track “studying my craft” time separately from fiction. I say I must spend X minutes a week sitting down, with a hard technical text, working my way through methodically.

(It is really fun seeing how we have all ran into the same problems, but solved them sometimes completely differently!)