Beeminder Forum

Beevent Horizon


#1

Heya! This is my new Beeminder journal in the new Life section of the forum, patterned after the YNAB journals that originally inspired the section. I use my YNAB journal to talk about my financial goals, but I’ll use this journal to talk about the other goals that I’m Beeminding. The title comes from the fact that my wife and I are expecting our first child in August, and I know that nothing will ever be the same from that point forward. I’ve only got a few short months to turn into a proper adult and get my life in order. Eep!

An excerpt from the 2016 Resolution Thread:

I’ll be able to get groceries early in the day and maybe help do prep work like washing and chopping for dinner that day.

I want to start trying to commute to work (about 10 miles each way) on my bike instead of taking the train the first 8 miles and only biking the last 2 miles.

I want to do at least a little cleaning every day. This would be way easier if Beeminder supported Habitica Dailies (nudge-nudge), but my kinda hacked-together to-do list solution is working more or less okay for now.

Because I’m working so much less, we’re earning way less money, so I’ve got to work really hard on economizing. More frequent fridge cleanouts and produce inventory management to avoid wasting food is a big priority. Might have to make a Beeminder goal for this, but I’m not sure what to drop out if I do. Might delegate this to Habitica instead.

Well, so far I’ve been doing okay at these, but not perfect. I wound up getting a bit more work, which is good for money (I’m now at about two-thirds of my previous income rather than half, as I’d originally feared), but leaves me with a bit less spare time. After a balmy December, we wound up getting some pretty fierce cold and snow that’s so far prevented me from biking all the way down to work, but the past few days have been delightfully warm, so I’m gonna try to make that happen at some point. Unfortunately Runkeeper’s GPS feature seems to have stopped working on my phone, even after an uninstall/reinstall, so I might have to cancel my Beeminder mileage goal, dangit, and figure out some other way of tracking exercise.

I’ve discontinued my Cheaper Groceries goal, since I’ve actually gotten into a pretty good habit of getting food at cheaper grocery stores and avoiding the shiny expensive places. I replaced that goal with my two-year-old Practice Recorder goal, which I retired last summer after my recorder teacher died and I couldn’t find the motivation to practice on my own. I signed up for a 40-person recorder workshop in April, which I’m really excited about. The catch is that it requires participants to read music on both C and F recorders, and I’m only really comfortable with F. So I’m hoping to practice at least once a week from now until then on my shiny new tenor recorder, working on getting C fingerings into my brain.

Sleep is actually going way better than I’d ever dreamed. I’ve been making an 11:30 bedtime pretty much every weeknight. Habitica’s been enforcing this better than Beeminder, I have to admit, because if I don’t go to bed on time my party suffers damage, and I hate doing that to them. But the Beeminder goal’s good as backup, and for tabulating the total amount of sleep I get over time. My sleep schedule hasn’t been this healthy in… Probably more than ten years, if not longer. It feels amazing.

Chores are going fair-to-middling. I’ve been in the green on my Beeminder goal for ages (I’ve actually had nine greens going for weeks and weeks now, even after extensive graph steepening and autoratcheting, which feels amazing), but I haven’t quite been keeping up with my four-cleaning-chores-a-day goal, so eventually the chickens will come home to roost and I’ll find myself in the blue. Then I’ll have to step it up a bit. I’ve also found that the strict numerical counting of the chores means that I’ll sometimes be tempted to do easy/quick chores like wipe down the kitchen table rather than more tedious/gross chores like clean the bathroom floor. Not sure what to do about that one from a self-binding perspective.

Anyway, that’s probably enough from me for now. I’ll check back periodically to write down how it’s going. Public accountability is an extremely useful tool! Really glad there’s a space for it on the forums now.


#2

I love the feeling of seeing a list of goals all green. Isn’t it nice to feel you are on top of things?

The chores goal sounds a bit like my tasks goal. Having it is strictly better than not having it, but I’ve noticed a temptation to do easy things and let bigger ones slide.

Nice job on getting more sleep!


#3

Well, the good news is that after an update from Lollipop to Marshmallow, my Runkeeper app is tracking mileage again! Woo!

The bad news is that the Beeminder database merge (I assume) added like 60 extra points to my HabitRPG chores goal. Um… I swear I didn’t spend all night cleaning the bathroom over and over in a Sorcerer’s Apprentice-like frenzy, guys. Heh. I contacted Support, so hopefully that’ll be cleared up soon.

Wondering if once a week is too infrequent for my recorder goal. I wish I could find, like, a practicing buddy. We could Skype each other on mute and just watch each other silently tootling for half an hour. That sounds strangely motivating. Hm.


#4

Woof. The last five weeks have been intense.

So right after my birthday, in mid-March, my wife went into Labor and Delivery with contractions (though not, thankfully, preterm labor). She was at 21 weeks at the time. Two weeks later, the same thing happened. Still not progressing, thank everything. She’s now at 26 weeks, and she’s continued to have contractions off and on, but mostly she’s able to make them go away by lying down and drinking water. She had to quit her job, though (she’s a professor and was responsible for teaching 80 students), and it’s just been… Hard. She also had a gestational diabetes scare, though it turns out thankfully that she doesn’t have it. Phew. We’ve been scared and worried and stressed out and distracted.

I derailed on a bunch of Beeminder goals, one after the other. Chores, blogging, novel editing, food spending. Boom, boom, boom, boom. I only didn’t derail on my recorder practice, Complice, and sleep goals because I had built up so much buffer. It wasn’t because I didn’t have time to do what I needed to do or because there was any particular crisis I was handling instead; I just felt emotionally tapped out. It was almost cathartic to watch the goals go from green to blue to orange to red and then… Blessed relief… Back to blue again. I’m slowly trying to pull myself back together, now that it seems like she’s gradually getting out of the danger zone. (Even though she’s still at risk of preterm labor, the longer we go without it happening, the less likely it is to happen, and the better chance our kid has of being okay if it does happen).

I’m sad that I’ve lost more than a week of keeping track of meals on PlanToEat after meticulously recording them for almost a year. I’ve gradually been getting better about cooking again (we just ordered a bunch of delivery food for a while there, which is why we derailed on food spending). Last night I made a ribeye steak with shallot-thyme pan sauce, crash hot potatoes, boiled artichokes, and a tomato-avocado salad. So good! And I’m trying to get back into my apartment cleaning routine. Our lease is up at the end of June, and we’re hoping to have a new apartment by the beginning of June, so that we’ll have a month to move. Gotta get everything packed and organized; might make a Beeminder goal for that at some point once we find the new place.

Also, I changed my Beeminder junk food goal so that instead of caffeine being in the same category as sweets (which meant if I blew that point for the day by drinking coffee I could have as much candy as I want without further penalty) to being in the same category as alcohol (which I hardly ever drink these days, in solidarity with my wife). I’ve been eating way less sugar than I was before implementing that rule, which is all to the good.

So yeah. I was getting complacent about locking in those nine greens for so long at a time. Gonna try and get myself back to that little by little, but if I get there again, I won’t take it for granted.


#5

Pregnancy issues make me feel so helpless. Glad to hear things are
(mostly?) ok!

I am debating changing my “vegetarian days” goal to a "vegetarian meals"
goal, as I noticed that as soon as I had meat in a day, I would tend to
have more than I usually would because the day was already going to be
marked a 0.


#6

I think things are okay for now! Certainly they feel a lot more okay than they did when all this stuff started at 21 weeks. Woof.

I think I need that outlet of being able to go hogwild once I blow my point for the day. It helps me feel less deprived on the days when I’m being good and saving my points.


#7

Derailing on my Food Money goal for the second time in a week. Bloooop.

Have marked my Runkeeper cycling goal for archiving and will be replacing it with a meditation goal. My wife and I have started a pre-bedtime routine of exercises from our childbirthing class (which started last Sunday and will run for eight weeks), a tension/relaxation/massage session, and then meditating together in bed before going to sleep. Gonna try to keep it up, and if I have to miss doing it with her because of our schedules, I’ll try to make it up while at work during the day. Still hoping my client will be able to switch me over to working remotely so I don’t have to waste three hours a day in transit (they promise it’s in the works but have offered no specific timetable), but until that happens, I’m just gonna try to be efficient during my downtime.

Also gonna try to finish revising my novel soon so I can retire that Beeminder goal and replace it with apartment moving tasks. Haven’t found a new place yet, but our lease is up at the end of June, so I gotta get on it fairly soon.

Have changed the fine print on my Junk goal yet again to eliminate caffeine entirely. I’ve gotten into a stable enough sleep schedule that having a cup of tea or coffee in the morning no longer keeps me up at night, and it actually really helps with both motivation and overall quality of life. If caffeine starts becoming a problem for me again, I’ll revise this, but for now I’m only going to take junk food points off for sugary stuff, crunchyfried stuff (except when I cook it at home), red meat/pork, and alcohol.


#8

I’m curious how you felt about your goals derailing when all that was going on. Reading your story it sounds like objectively the right thing to either deprioritize chores and blogging when life is happening. Either that or keep some small routines going for some and enjoying the structure, but watching everything fail while I am busy with something else would stress me out.

Glad to hear that things seem to be working out.


#9

Well, it wasn’t like there was a ton to DO. I was mostly just sitting around fretting about the possibility of losing our baby. Arguably that time would have been better spent blogging (we’re currently in the middle of a two-month crowdfunding campaign that isn’t doing as well as I’d like, and I should probably be blogging more than once a week anyway) or cleaning the apartment or cooking instead of ordering delivery food. I just felt kind of paralyzed. And watching the Beeminder goals derail actually kind of gave me some momentum to get back into gear, because I felt like the slate was wiped clean, in a way. So I don’t regret the relatively small amount of money that I forfeited. It helped, in a weird way.


#10

I have never fed Beeminder fake data, but I gotta say that the combination of a custom reverse odometer goal (so pessimistic presumptive doesn’t work), manual input, and the lack of an uncle button has led me to withhold data from Beeminder on days when I know it would derail me and to feed in the (correct! not fudged or fiddled with!) data later in the week instead, when it wouldn’t derail me because my odometer allowance increases over time. Which is to say that I’m mostly not a cheater, but this particular combination of circumstances makes it very tempting, almost irresistible, to cheat. It’s not even the money, since my goal has been stepped down to $5; it’s mainly just the lack of an uncle button, where I know that I’ll have to wait out an entire day of a red goal and increasingly frenetic zeno polling before I can go back on the road. The idea of voluntarily telling Beeminder to give me an entire red day is often just too painful, when I can be like “Eh, I’ll put that data in later” and not have to derail.

Not proud of any of this. Just saying. Changing from manual input to automatic would of course be the most reliable way of keeping me from cheating. Having a pessimistic presumptive setting for do less odometer goals (automatically assumes X amount unless you put in the actual data, which would ideally be less than X?) would work too, though it sounds more complicated. And I really think that uncle button would make the difference for me, though possibly not for everyone. Of course, I don’t know if anyone else even uses reverse odometer goals, so this whole thing might be moot.


#11

I agree that if Beeminder doesn’t force you in any way to post a datapoint, doing nothing to avoid derailing is almost acceptable/unavoidable, but still a very bad idea.

However, maybe I don’t understand your goal correctly but I don’t see how this works. Isn’t “inboxer” the perfect goal type you’d need for this? I don’t know if the documentation is wrong, since it says it’s not an odometer goal, but in my experience it works like that in practice.

I have a laundry goal, whose exact settings I can’t check right now since it’s archived. I only restart it when I notice there’s a little backlog I want to take care of. As far as I can tell, it’s a reverse odometer goal, like you describe, and it does not allow me to cheat by withholding data?


#12

The specific goal I’m talking about is my Food Money goal, which is a custom do-less-odometer goal. I’ve got it set to a certain amount of money per month, which Beeminder doles out in a linear fashion, and if I go over that limit (counting spending on groceries, coffee shops, lunch, delivery, and restaurants), I derail. When I reconcile YNAB 5 days a week, I get a tally of my food spending for the month so far. I’m supposed to take that number and manually input it into Beeminder whenever I reconcile, but as I said, I’ve been fudging that a bit. Sometimes I genuinely forget, but sometimes I just don’t want to enter any data, because I know it’ll derail me. I’ve never put in false data, but waiting to enter data until I’d be in the green is definitely a form of cheating.

So it’s not a backlog goal, in that I’m not able to decrease the amount of spending by whittling it down; it only ever goes in one direction. It’s a regular do-less goal, but with a cumulative (odometer-style) tally, so that I don’t have to enter the amount I’ve newly spent on food each time I update, but can just enter the overall spending for the month so far, as shown on YNAB.


#13

Sorry for ass-uming!

I do wonder if we shouldn’t apply “kill your darlings” to Beeminder goals. It’s a smart and complex goal you have, but obviously it doesn’t work very well and willpower alone won’t fix it. I’d say scrap it and go back to the drawing board for a simpler solution.

For one, spending in the real world is decidedly un-linear in most cases.


#14

What would you recommend instead? It’s true that spending is non-linear, but since I try to keep all my goals in the green anyway, building up a buffer of a few hundred dollars so that I can splurge on a restaurant meal with friends doesn’t seem unreasonable to me, and keeping total food spending under a set amount per month sounds like a fairly sensible idea. But I’d definitely welcome suggestions! My main issue is that it’s not currently possible to automate importing YNAB data into Beeminder, which is a pity.


#15

A little over a month 'til the kid arrives, and I’m not sure what to do on the Beeminder front. The last few weeks have been taken up with moving (which I did Beemind in a casual sort of way; I had a “packing/moving pomodoros” goal, and even though I didn’t actually set the timer, I gave myself retroactive credit for how much time I’d spent packing and getting ready for the move that day), and I’ve actually been really productive, spending most of every day getting the new place set up and the old place cleaned out, to the point where I haven’t had much time to use Beeminder, Complice, Habitica, or any of my other habit trackers. I derailed on my Complice Outcomes goal a few days ago, not because I wasn’t getting stuff done, but because I hadn’t bothered to sit down and map out my day in Complice.

Now moving day has come and gone, so my Beeminder Moving goal has expired. We’re still unpacking at the new place and I’m trying to sell the last of the furniture off at the old place, but I don’t think I need to Beemind that. That means I’ve got eight active goals going. I usually like to have nine, so I can have a nice 3x3 grid, but I’m not sure what if anything I should put in place of Moving.

There’s my NaNoWriMo novel revising goal (currently set at a pomodoro a week), which I’d really like to finish before the kid gets here.

My junk food goal has been helpful to keep me on track, so I’d like to keep that.

I’m not sure whether I’ll still need my Complice goal when I’m on parental leave and not working more than 4 or so hours a week. Saving the $16/month I spend on Complice is probably a good idea, but I’ve found it to be so helpful when I am working, I’m a little loath to let it go.

I’ll probably keep my Sleep goal for tracking purposes but set it flat when the kid comes, 'cause sleep dep is just gonna happen no matter what I try to do to mitigate it.

My blogging goal will also probably go flat for a while. I want to keep my hand in the open source project I founded, but a lot of other people are working on it right now, so I can let it be for a little bit.

My Food Money goal is probably worth keeping (even though I haven’t been good about updating it, and as a reverse odometer goal it unfortunately lets me get away with overspending as long as I fail to update it.) I definitely need to learn how to economize while I’m spending down savings on Parental Leave, but I still haven’t hit upon the perfect autodata-driven solution for that.

My Habitica goal is definitely worth keeping, since I want to prioritize keeping our shiny new apartment clean even after the kid arrives.

My recorder practicing goal, currently set to once a week, means a lot to me, but I might set it flat until we get into a routine with the kid.

Well, in the course of writing this post, I decided to start a very low key exercise goal, with one episode of exercise (whether swimming, biking, walking in the park, whatever) per week. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing.

Still not sure what I’ll add to complete the grid when I finish my NaNo goal, though. Any low-maintenance baby-centric goals people want to recommend?


#16

Congratulations on your upcoming baby! Just tossing out some ideas here—see what tickles your fancy:

  • Tweak your recorder goal to be time spent playing music for/near the baby; possibly learn to play lullabies?

  • I’ve seen “carry and dance” exercise classes around here, where you wear your baby in a sling/carrier and do gentle dancey exercises. Possibly something for your low key exercise goal?

  • If you’d like to keep blogging, to keep yourself writing at least a little every day, then totally blog about mommyhood and sleep dep and what’s going on in your daily routine to meet your blogging goal. It made it easy for me to write a blog post every day (my goal at the time). It’s also really nice to have the record of that time later, to read back through. And I like to think it serves as a lifebuoy for others who stumble across it years later at 3 AM while up with the baby, paying it forward as it were :).


#17

All really good suggestions! Many thanks. (’:


#18

Finally bit the bullet on my Food Money goal and entered data for the first time in a month, knowing that I would derail. Grrr, I hate being in the red all day. I’d give so much for an Uncle Button so that I could just reset to blue or green and keep going.


#19

Just put my Complice account on pause. Really happy they have that option, since I would have been sad if I’d lost all my data. I’ll definitely resume it when I start working again, but these days I’m just doing too much stuff that’s not at the computer, and I’m not writing out daily agendas the way I used to.


#20

For me, this is a downside of setting any arbitrary deadline. If I’m skating the edge, then my noon-tomorrow deadline gives me a red graph all afternoon today. (You’re better than I am at staying in the green!)

Hear hear!