Beeminder Forum

Brennan's Beeminder Journal

Ding Dong! It’s another Beeminder Journal.

Personal Introduction

Hi, I’m Brennan. I wrote two guests posts for Beeminder back in 2017-- Tao and Sting. Although I felt as though they were good pieces of advice (I had a lot of helpful editing from Daniel and Bee!), I ultimately fell short and failed hard with Beeminder, and subsequently life. I wrote another long post reflecting on that here. Now that’s all rather general and abstract, so I’ll get to the personal stuff.

I have been working as a cook at a children’s hospital for the past four years, and due to a contract ending, I was laid off last month. By the sheer grace of the universe, I landed a full-ride scholarship to a full-stack web development program. I previously had to drop out of university due to lack of finances, so this is a kind of Godsend for me–and I don’t want to squander it.

I will be a lot busier during this program than I was before when I was seriously slacking off–and I’ll probably be just as busy for the rest of my life. Which is exactly why I’m amping up my workload. I need to adapt and adjust to what I ought to be doing.

One reason I think I failed at Beeminder was simply not using Beeminder for Beeminder, or in other words, creating a system that would track daily check-ins so I can be mindful of where I am with all my other systems. Or having a weekly write-up in the way of this Beejournal for meta-accountability. I really cannot believe I did not think of this sooner. I am dumb.

Unique Philosophy (aka more neurotic rambling)

  • Atomic Habits (for now): I’m taking a page out of James Clear’s fantastic book and starting out very small and slow. I know I have a habit of getting the initial rush of motivation to jump into things only for them to fizzle out. A consequence of this is going to be large safety buffers, but I’ll figure that out later.
  • Anti-goal Framework: Unlike a lot of people that use Beeminder, I do not intend on having any systems in play that are temporary. In other words, systems that would eventually end in a succeeded goal. All of my beeminders will be tracking things I want to theoretically do for the rest of my life. Maybe one day my brain will be able to comprehend shorter-term goals.
  • Essentialism: In the addition to the above, I want to make sure my systems only track what is truly important and meaningful to me. Getting lost in the weeds of small habits is too easy for me, so I’m going to utilize the 20/80 rule as best I can.
  • Anti-Circle: I really need to stop repeating myself as well as my same stupid mistakes. Looking back at the goals I set for myself back in 2014, when I was still in high school, I notice there’s a bunch of stuff I’m still hopeful I’ll be achieving this year.
  • Redundancy of Efforts / Cohesive Database: A solution for being anti-circle is simply not letting my plans exist in a bunch of different notebooks, cloud drives, laptops, etc. and instead have a single place that I regularly review (this forum post!), as well as having a redundancy of identical efforts–a single USB drive backup, a single Git repository backup, etc.
  • Automated vs. Manual Input: Initially joining Beeminder, I solely chose to create systems where the data could be automated. This seemed like less work and thus less-likely-to-fail than manual input, however there are sneaky efforts that some things still have.
    • Eg. I have to start up Runkeeper whenever I go for a walk, for instance, and which means turning on my LTE, GPS, etc. and it’s probably more of a hassle than just recording the amount of time I was outside for.
  • Habitual vs. Resistant: There are some things that I am naturally good at doing, thankfully, so I do not have to Beemind them. However, I should write them down elsewhere for the sake of having all of my habits/task items in the same place.
  • Burnout Paradox: I am still figuring out a way to avoid burnout and maintain my efforts through Beeminder. It is kinda paradoxical in nature because having to add more data would negate ease, so I need to think of more creative ways to do this.
  • Work/Life Balance: Being a well-rounded person is essential to me. The last thing I want to do is dedicate all of my waking life to a single thing. So, I have to make sure there’s balance in my systems between all the major categories of life
    • Eg. Work, Relationships, Mentality, Physicality, Spirituality, Finances, Fun. More Information.

Initial/Current Systems

  • /Productivity: Tracking the amount of my productive time in front of a computer via RescueTime. It’s pretty generic but works out well.
  • /Courses: Tracking the courses I take through online learning platforms manually. Will also track assignments when I start my program.
  • /Github: Tracking the commits I push to my GitHub account via Gitminder. I have a repository for my course notes which is currently what I usually commit.
  • /Blog: Tracking the posts I publish to my Medium account via IFTTT. I probably consider this my most important Beeminder.
  • /Poetry: Tracking the posts I publish to my Tumblr account via IFTTT. I have two self-published collections and I just restarted my poetry blog to start working on my third.

Future Systems

I will be implementing these systems slowly, to minimize chance of failure and burnout.

  • /Daily or /Meta: Tracking daily check-ins to Beeminder itself for the sake of intentionality and consistency. Will be manual.
  • /Beejournal: Tracking weekly check-ins to this forum thread, as well as eventual Jekyll website that will contain all of this. Will include Beetuning, Next Actions, Derailments, New Systems, Current Systems Updates, Life Updates, Etc. Will be manual–and I’ll need to write up a template.
  • /BulletJournal: Tracking daily check-ins to make sure I write my daily to-dos, as well as other mundane things, etc. that aren’t important enough to Beemind in my bujo. I like writing on paper a lot! Will be manual.
  • /Tweets and /Photos: Tracking my Twitter and Instagram posts. I have recently deleted all social media and restarting again. I have many harsh criticisms regarding social media (see: Deep Work by Cal Newport) however it is a necessity if I’m going into technology, and I need to demonstrate to myself that these services are not inherently bad, and I can use them as a way to track my own personal progress at the very least.
  • /Gratitude: Tracking one (or possibly more) thing that I’m grateful for daily. Studies often show this makes people happier. Will be manual.

Potential Systems

This introductory post is already heavily bloated. If you would like to see a list of other systems I am currently considering, please check out this Gist. There are a variety of reasons why these are not being used, whether it’s unclear metrics, lack of motivation, or having the beework take up more time than the task itself.

Conclusion

Thanks for reading all of this! I’d love any comments or criticism, as I’m sure I have abundant blind spots and bias that are reasons why I’ve hindered myself in the past. Also feel free to ask any questions or take any of my ideas. I also apologize for being so long-winded–it’s something I need to work on.

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So, I’m just getting myself organized–rather slowly, as intended. I was originally going to return to the Infinibee plan, however I was looking over the premium perks again and noticed that Bee Plus has the benefit of automatic safety buffers, and weekends off? It might be double the price but that’s worth it just for that, in my opinion. So that’s a problem I had originally that I’ve already solved.

I’ve also decided to double down on this idea, and set up a GitHub repository with Jekyll to quickly hack together a quick blog for my beejournal. I managed to score the domain journal.bar for $2, so that’s what I’m calling the project. You can view it here: Journal.bar

Thoughts of the Week

I doubt this section will be as long for any week after this. I just have a couple years of gunk I need to get out of my system.

  • Crafting a Mission Statement: I’ve always been a fan of having a personal mission statement that dictates what you ought to do when the going gets tough and you need something important to remind you not to follow the path of least resistance. I’ve uploaded the mission statement I’ve been using for the past ten year, and looking to revise it.
  • The Unified System: I need to figure out an analog and digital workflow that’s consistent, cross-platform, and that I enjoy using. I have so many different documents and files scattered all over the place, so I should create a workflow template on here as well soon.
  • Less Meta, More Bettah!: I have a bad habit of initally setting things up but not following through. I need to stop dilly-dallying planning stuff out and actually do the work needed.
  • Microsystems: I need to figure out meaningful ways to track small yet important things. For instance, I’m a lot more motivated to work when I play music and ambiance, but often forget to start playing something before I start working.
  • Microreminders: A solution to microsystems might be microreminders, as in setting up an alarm on my phone for things instead of creating an entirely new Beeminder for them. I definitely need one to remind myself to check-in on Beeminder, in particular.
  • Bee Agnosticism: In the longterm, I need to failsafe system to maintain my good and productive behavior in the event of Beeminder vanishing. Although I hope this never happens, the only practical solution I have right now would be a spreadsheet, which would be far less intuitive and a lot more work.
  • Passion Prioritizes Tradition: A weird goal that’s interesting always outranks a traditionally-speaking good goal that you don’t actually have much interest in.
  • Museum of Beejournals: I want to start going through other beejournals as helpful indication of good precedence and systems-over-time. Maybe create a best-of page on my blog, or something.
  • Character of Will vs. Want: Trying to figure out the dichotomy between what I want versus how much effort I’m actually willing to put in to obtain it. Work harder–but also adjust my expectations and want less.
    • Behaviors vs. Systems: In a similar vein, finding the behavior behind a task for a system is not as straight-forward as it might initially seem, whether it actually turns out to be more difficult or easier.
  • Seasonal Themes: An interesting idea that I stole from CGP Grey’s latest video is for seasonal themes as a replacement for New Year’s resolutions. This seems like a fun idea, though I’m not sure what my Spring 2020 theme would be, except something boring like perseverance.
  • Concrete Anti-Weasel Obligations: Do I need to journal-write daily? Why? If I don’t have an amazing answer, the monkey-mind will win and I’ll figure out a way to weasel out of it. (Mixed animal metaphors, aside.) This is why distilling my systems down to the essential is so important–as well as having a mission statement of the values that I require myself to fall back on.
  • System Harmony: Something I forgot to mention before, is the reason I chose the initial five systems that I did was that they harmonize well with each other. If I’m doing coursework, then I’m pushing a commit to GitHub, and all of that’s beeing added to my productive time.
  • Universal Fineprint: An idea I borrowed from other, smarter Beeminder users. I have a universal fineprint page set up so that I know for a fact when a derailment would count as non-legit, though I optimistically plan to have no derailments at all.

Current Goal Check-up

  • /Productivity: I had a few days of minimal screentime, which look like a lack of productive work. Been thinking about tracking my distracting time again, but it seems way too easy to weasel out of.
  • /Courses: Got three courses done this week! Probably going to be getting a lot more done when classes start.
  • /Github: Been doing a lot of work here, including this blog itself. Safety buffer is way too high, and luckily can be set to auto-adjust.
  • /Blog: Going to turn all of this writing into a blog post sometime this week.
  • /Poetry: Been struggling a little creatively with the whole restart. Might change this in the future, or import all of my old stuff back on.

New Goals

  • /Daily: A simple meta-system to check in with my other systems on Beeminder on a daily basis. Only one day of safety buffering. I could incorporate other daily tasks (Eg. using my bullet journal) into this, though I feel like that has too much weasel-potential.
  • /Journalbar: Tracking the number of weekly updates I post to the Beeminder forum and my Jekyll blog to record my progress on Beeminder and in life.

Pesky Obstacles

  • The data for my old systems that I’ve revived are all messy thanks to how much I fudged numbers in the past. My apt punishment for this is that I’ll slowly have to adjust them to be correct without screwing the data up enough to cause derailment.
  • Very petty grievance: Trimming a large amount of safety buffer off a graph makes the whole design of it far less aesthetically pleasing. This is currently a problem, since I’m implementing atomic habits. Oh well.
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Holy cow, so much good stuff here!

(Just one comment for now: I too liked CGP Grey’s video on seasonal themes instead of resolutions but am also not sure what a good theme for myself is.)

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Yeah, don’t make the same mistake I have sometimes, and remember to have – in the words of Larry Wall’s book on Perl programming – “the appropriate amount of fun”. It’s not only that if you don’t have fun you won’t do it. Learning without fun and without a decent dose of semi-directed self-indulgence is an inefficient algorithm – I think that’s true even if you’re following a curriculum.

By the way, speaking as a programmer, reading what you’ve written here, I am convinced you’ll be a great success in that job. You have the mindset for sure! And it sounds some maturity with it that I wish I’d had at your age.

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Week Two! Both of my gripes I talked about last week were successfully resolved by my realization that I can use the visual road editor to fix jarring changes within the road due to safety buffer auto-trimming. I’m sure it’s in bad taste and bad practically to revise the history of the road for the sake of aesthetics, but oh well.

Also, since I have previous web development experience, the first week of this program as been a breeze, but I’m definitely prepared for that to change quickly and acutely. The fact that I’m going to be using GitHub so often means a lot of my systems are going to flow really well.

Thoughts of the Week

I figured by now I wouldn’t have as much to say, however, having the ability to constantly ideate on unrelated things and compiling them all in one place has really improved my ability to come up with new ideas in general.

  • You’re doing OK: Life isn’t a competition, but have reassurance knowing that you aren’t in last place if it was. Don’t catastrophize bad and don’t minimize the good.
  • Typewriter Mentality: Examine thyself carefully. Using Git again has reminded me how good of a memory it has.
    • In order to not make a bunch of embarrassing extra commits or reversions of commits, I really need to triple-check my spelling and semantics. This seems like a drawback at first, but in reality is really useful.
  • Be Mindful of Time Dilation: The amount of time I feel I have when I’m working on something boring or uncomfortable is far greater than the time I feel like I have when I’m having fun. This is really beneficial as well, as it allows me to savor the moment more when I’m within the intricate and difficult.
  • Thrust Unto Darkness: I have this idea to create a Beeminder that starts at an extreme amount of money and has a solitary, one-month deadline.
    • I wonder if this sort of expierment would push me to do things that I always say I want to do but never get around to doing, like starting a YouTube channel, or start a podcast, etc.
  • Become Patreon Worthy: Related to the above idea, I want to create things that are so valuable they are worth money. Once I build myself up, I need to contribute to the world, as well as balancing what the world is highly needing vs. what I’m capable of offering.
    • In addition to this, I need to start taking having a following/community seriously, as I don’t really have don’t have any notable metrics in spite of writing for nearly four years.
  • Simple Good: I need to start simple, good projects on GitHub for both the sake of learning and to maintain a consecutive streak on my profile.
  • Data Agnosticism: A data point is a data point, if I write a really good or really bad blog post, it’s still only a “1”. What is solution?
    • Possible solution: Track words (not really a solution, which just means more words which is still quantity, not quality), also a problem because I write in multiple places (although I shouldn’t, as that violates the unification system principle).
    • Second possible solution: Reflecting my subjective judgement of a data point by raising or lowering it slightly (Eg. 0.9 or 1.1 if a blog post is lacking or above what I usually do, respectively.) Though I feel like I can get too caught up in the weeds with this approach.
    • Then again, this doesn’t necessarily need a solution, as being non-subjective allows me to feel a sense of accomplishment doing work even if it’s bad work.
  • Magic Buster Point System: A system I found years ago, probably from Buster Benson, where you record your day on a simple 1-2-3 system—where 1 is a bad day, 2 is a good day, and 3 is a perfect day.
    • I’m curious about incorporating such a system into Beeminder? I.e. Having a point-based system for smaller habits and tracking them daily.
    • Read more about this: What I’m Tracking and Why
  • Leverage Platforms: I have a Svbtle account and I should use it. They have a good promise. It makes my writing and my ideas more platform agnostic and thus anti-fragile—as well as encourage the diversity of topics and ideas that I write about.
    • Also, start a newsletter on Substack about my progress, as well as interesting things I find throughout the week? A lot simpler than MailChimp.
    • In the future, I could possible Beemind both of these as well!
  • Emojify the System (for fun): Taken from Youkad who has really good Beeminder systems.
  • Impossibility of Meaningful Day: How do you have a meaningful day? You can’t really. It’s too short of a time frame, you’re too stuck in the weeds.
    • Doing these weekly reviews has kind of shown me that the shortest amount of time where it’s possible to feel like you’ve gotten something done is a week.
  • Spent-Money Paradox: One thing I’ve had a problematic mindset with, how can I have the consequence/punishment for spending/saving money be to spend more money?
    • Can I justify it as sunk-cost fallacy? No, I cannot suspend my disbelief for such an idea, which is a shame because I really need a way to be better with my finances. Maybe I’ll figure something out.
  • Everything is a Repeat: You can find a solution to pretty much any problem you have, however, some lessons require first-hand experience because I’m stubborn and only human.
  • Eliminate the External: As impossible as this idea is, it’s still important to be mindful about. The reason I began Beeminding again was because competency and self-worth due to getting into a web-development program.
    • I felt capable because of external sources validating me. This is not good. It might be a controversial opinion, but relying or seeking out external validation is harmful. It is fleeting and ultimately unnecessary. You are already enough. You are capable. Get out of your own way.
  • Magnitude of Failures: Derailing on a goal is not a failure, neither is deleting the goal altogether. As long as you keep with the idea of committing your time and efforts to good progress.
  • Reporter Supplementary: Using Reporter as supplementary data collection. It’s an underrated, intuitive iOS application that is designed to ask you questions (you create) throughout the day.
    • I need to figure out what would be meaningful to ask myself, specifically things that I don’t feel Beeminder can facilitate.
    • Read more about this: How I Track My Life

Current Systems

  • All of my Beeminders are currently running smoothly! Since my work throughout the week is technical in nature, I will need to prioritize time on the weekends for /blog and /poetry.

New Systems

  • /weight: I’m going to be experimenting with tracking my weight, as having a displayed record might be the push I need to get to a more healthy physique. I’m going to be getting a FitBit soon in order to easily track health-related systems as a companion to this, so I can be more mindful of my physical activity and diet.

Pesky Obstacles

Although I feel it’s helpful to rant about problems I’m currently facing, it’s obviously more helpful to speculate on solutions rather than just pure rumination.

  • Photography Workflow: I want to start using Instagram again, and start getting back into photography in general, but it’s been difficult. You need to dedicate an unexpectedly large amount of time and effort in order to take the photos, as well as editing and publishing. Having a camera that has bluetooth for automatic syncing to my phone, as well as lovely out-of-the-camera JPGs like what FujiFilm has.
  • Twitter Conundrum: Frankly, it’s difficult to look at Twitter as anything other than a rather toxic website that perpetuates unproductive and unhealthy modes of thinking. Of course, there are entirely separated spheres of groups of people that often times rarely interact with each other. I’d like to participate in a healthy social ecosystem in Twitter that focuses on technology for the sake of increasingly my employable viability.
    • More related to Beeminder, the system I have implemented tracks the number of Tweets, however I think it would be intelligent to periodically delete tweets due to their inherently ephemeral nature, so I’d have to figure out a way to reconcile that.

Diving Into Reporter

I think generic, note-based questions are more helpful than trying to create bite-sized, quantifiable data.

Daily responses are designed to be prompted multiple times and randomly throughout the day, however I think it would be better to have a single daily report to emphasize a long-term view and not into the weeds.

Overall, I think data that requires longform, qualitative input that Beeminder has difficult conveying through purely quantitative means.

  • By default, Reporter tracks the following with each report:
    • Current Location
    • Recent Weather Conditions
    • Current Altitude/Elevation
    • Number of Photos (Taken since last report)
    • Ambient Audio Decibel Levels
    • Recent Walking Activity
    • Stairs Climbed or Descended
  • Types of Questions:
    • Tokens (Small Descriptors)
    • Note (Long Descriptors)
    • Multi-Choice
    • Yes/No
    • Location
    • People
    • Number

Morning:

  • How well did you sleep? (note)
  • What are 3 intentions for today? (note)

Daily:

  • Who are you with? (people)
  • What are you working on? (note)

Evening:

  • What happened today? (people)
  • What are you grateful for? (token)
  • What did you eat today? (note)
  • What are my plans for tomorrow? (note)
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Week Three! This week was a bit of a whirlwind. I’ve been attending a lot of networking events and getting my toes wet in the local technology scene. Very cool stuff but also very exhausting. Not to mention I’m in the process of moving houses, so I’m writing this a little last-minute.

Actually, scratch that. I’m writing this late because I found out last night that my work laptop had a spontaneous fan error that I can’t seem to be able to fix quickly. That’s where I house the (very minimal) set up for my Jekyll blog, so I can’t update that. But I won’t let that deter me from finishing a forum post!

Thoughts of The Week

  • WakaTime!: A great little open-source editor plugin for metrics about your programming. Adds great supplementary data that adds more insight to my learning system. Add it to your Editor/IDE.
  • Non-linear Goals: As much as I love Beeminder and its tracking and measurement of goals, it does lead to bias towards linear goals even a blindspot to non-linear goals AKA acknowledgement that there isn’t a typical progression that’s exclusively upwards.
  • In-the-moment Monkey: The most difficult monkey-mind to tackle is the one that comes to us at random-spontaneous and emotionally difficult times (obviously).
    • How do we tackle the monkey-mind when its at its most powerful?
    • We also have to examine the relational monkeys, as in where/what caused us to get into the position of pure impulse in the first place?
  • Beeminder Placebo: When I think about that experiment I wrote about last month, I sort of realize that it’s difficult to realize. I don’t think there’s a reality where I would actually give Beeminder hundreds or thousands of dollars in exchange for a one-time data point that comes in a month or so, and that the threat of the money would be more of a self-induced placebo effect.
    • Should I lower it to the most amount of money I would realistically place, or is a daunting placebo in fact more powerful?
  • Community-oriented Goals: As an introvert, and as an idealist for civil society in general, I think it would really be helpful to have community-oriented goals. The problem is I don’t know effective goal/system ideas for this, other than perhaps a manual record of meet-ups attended.
  • Leaderboards: A totally unreasonable, but fun idea I had was to have global leaderboards on Beeminder. Of course, there are a multitude of reasons why it wouldn’t work, but it would be really interesting to see how the “best of” would be doing and how to try to measure that.
  • Simplify Reporter Prompts: I currently think the best way to utilize Reporter is to just have a single, freeform entry in the morning, afternoon, and evening as a way to consolidate all of the different ideas for prompts. The simpler and easier something is, the more likely I am to continue using it.
  • Content-creator Systems: Although IFTTT has a large multitude of API options, a lot of them aren’t intuitive for Beeminder systems. I’m sure Zapier has a lot more smart options, but that costs money, and at that point I’m better off developing my own API web hooks for custom systems.
    • That aside, I’ve realized that there’s a lot of potential to use YouTube, Twitch, and Soundcloud for content-based systems, eg. posting videos, doing livestreams, or uploading podcasts. I’m still not really in a place to use these, but it’s good to have for future reference.
    • Dropbox “file-in-folder” Possibilities: Another interesting idea for future use is the fact you can track the amount of files within a specific folder in Dropbox. I’m not entirely sure about the specifics, but I feel like there’s a lot of possibility there.
  • Reference-based Twitter: I think a way to deal with my qualms about Twitter is to largely ignore the social aspects of the social media platform, and focus instead on using it as a way to keep track of personal references and inspiration, as well as smaller updates to my progress in general.
  • Agnostic Tracking: It would be interesting if Beeminder allowed for systems that were neutral—neither “do more” or “do less” but rather just the ability to view the natural progression of datapoints for the sake of observation rather than improvement, and I think this idea ties well into non-linear goals/systems.

Current Systems

  • /weight: Only a couple of days after creating this system, I derailed! I thought it was a little weird that there would be no merciful flexibility to account for the natural fluctuation of weight.
    • Of course, Beeminder is way ahead of me, and recently addressed a much more sensible philosophy to this, and I should have read that before starting and just had my initial datapoint being the top weight of my fluctuations.
  • /journalbar: Also derailed! I need to get a new instance of my blog environment set up on my older laptop so I can update it asap. But I’ve already finished the weekly update itself, and that’s more important than anything.
  • As for my other systems, there’s really not much other than smooth sailing!

New Systems

  • /gratitude: This week, I re-introduced the gratitude system, which has a great ratio of effort and value. This video by Kurzgesagt is a great explanation for why gratitude is an antidote to dissatisfaction in general.

Pesky Obstacles

  • As per-usual, the most pesky obstacles I’ve faced this week have just been myself and my life.
  • The more systems you have in place, the more fragile the entirety of the process becomes. I need to be more mindful of this, and figure out ways to incorporate robustness into the holistic process.
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This looks really cool! I wonder if there’s a simple way to integrate this with the Beeminder API so you could track time working on a given project, or coding in general? :thinking:

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The answer appears to be “Yes!” Here’s WakaTime’s API endpoint that looks the most straight-forward for use with a Beeminder goal.

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Week Four! The first month of this experiment is over. This week has definitely been hectic for me. A good signifier of this is that I don’t really have a list of ideas and notes, like I have had the past few weeks. In the past, this sort of lack of progress would have most likely discouraged me, and caused a downward spiral where I ended up quitting–only to try to restart and begin again a few months later all over again with seemingly nothing learned.

I have a mantra that I often forget to remind myself about when I get dismissive during times like these–shake the dust. For me, the beginning stage of anything is the most alluring, I love diving into things when there aren’t really any stakes involved and everything seems more forgiving. After awhile, the difficulty ramps up and there’s a natural progression of stress. It’s stop being as fun, or at least optically it does.

But that isn’t how it actually works. I’m not a tiny organism that have a lifespan of a handful of time. I’m set here for the long-run, whether I like it or not. And the only way to do anything meaningful is to stick at it when it’s difficult and cling onto the momentum of cumulative progress. As cheesy as it is, every day is a new day to try my best, and that’s all I can ask of myself.

I feel as though I’m yielding to Parkinson’s Law–the more time I give myself to try to get things done, the more time I just end up being idle and delaying instead. I’ve been close (too close) to derailing on a few systems in the past few days. The way I see it, being a day or two behind isn’t that big of a deal as long as you actually do what’s needed to be done within those few days–and hopefully a little extra more if you can afford the energy.

In the big-picture, grand scheme of things, being a few days off isn’t really noticeable to the system as a whole. But if there’s consistent delays, then something is fundamentally wrong and will only get worse if not addressed. So, let’s review how things are going after having a month of data and behavior to look at and examine.

System Review

  • /productivity and /github haven’t had any trouble whatsoever. I’ve been having to auto-trim the safety buffer constantly, which is actually an indication that these are too easy and most likely not actually contributing anything other than a way for me to pat myself on the back. If I had no other problems currently, I’d definitely be ramping these up.
  • /daily and /gratitude have also been going well. There are times where I skip a day, however I have always simply made it up the day after, as the consequence of ignoring either of them for longer than that means a derailment.
  • /journalbar, /blogging, and /poetry aren’t in the red right now, however, they both require more time and attention than I’m giving them. Unlike my programming, there’s no chunk of time already in place dedicated to my writing. My (obvious) solution to this is just set a certain time and day each week purely for writing.
  • /courses is in the red right now, because I haven’t been allocating enough time to studying either. I’ve instead mostly been doing project-based work instead of reviewing lessons. Although there’s arguably more value in that, there are a lot of concepts and techniques I need to learn before trying to implement them on my own.
  • /weight is also in the red right now, mostly because I misplaced my scale when I moved! I just need to but a new one. Although there is a chance that I’m currently over my weight-limit. I’m not entirely sure.

New Systems

  • /fitness: I’m purchasing a Fitbit Inspire HR tonight after class, and I’m most likely going to just be tracking steps taken per day, until/if I come up with a more meaningful and intelligent metric.
    • I’m also probably going to be adding different systems for the different metrics that can be tracked. It seems sort of weird to have a punishment set up for if I don’t get enough sleep for instance, though I suppose I could frame it as ensuring that I get to bed on time each night.

Week Five! As everybody already knows, everything has changed this week. The spread of COVID-19 has caused a lot of infrastructure to shut down in an attempt to flatten the curve, epidemiological speaking. My local school board has just decided a few hours ago to completely shut down all K-12 indefinitely.

In times like these, it’s easy to forget the long-term and meaningful. It’s easy to become short-sighted and give up on what you’ve been working on–your principles–for seemingly the sake of survival. The contrary is in fact true, and it is times like these more than ever that you need to stick to your convictions. It is easy to hold conviction and say you are a person of character when things are easy.

This virus has allowed the fragility of our infrastructure to go on full display. For the first time in a long time, it is apparent to see how little people know what they’re doing. In a lot of locations and nations, we are scrambling by the seat of our pants.

It is obvious that the actions taken when things were still under control were the right ones–even though they seemed alarmist and paranoid when they were taken. Taiwan and South Korea successfully set up operations that have minimized the impact of the virus. They have been thorough and unrelenting in their policy.

How does any of this apply to myself? I have been wondering the past few weeks on how to tackle the fragility of my own systems, as if I were to look at an example at a far larger scope, the answer is just as obvious as it has always been–hard work.

You can try to minimize the friction of tasks, you can try to automate the tedious, you can try your best to fight your akrasia. And this approach might be clever and work for awhile, but there is such a strong outward force such as this–when a black swan event occurs–this cleverness breaks. And the only thing that can withstand such things is conviction of values and willingness to work hard towards the ideal of those values.

Were it not for those that are working tirelessly in the healthcare field, or those that stock store shelves with no sick leave, or the multitude of other people that do not get the luxury of staying home, everything would have already crumbled.

I believe this pandemic has made me realize how self-centered by current systems are operating. It is paradoxically difficult to work towards the betterment of community when social distancing is the number one recommended suggestion right now.

The only real remedy to this is the Internet–a utility that has clearly been underappreciated. Only when push comes to shove, do we figure out how much work can actually be done with the Internet alone. Had there been more value put into remote work, and allowing more people to work from home, there would not be so much chaos and difficulty as there is now.

As terrifying and uncertain as things are now, there is clearly unknown territory moving forward–where there’s abundance of opportunity and potential for innovation for the Internet to be better utilized for the social public and community-at-large, and although I have no idea how yet, I think that’s exciting.

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Well said! It would be awesome if you’re up for posting a version of this in the general coronavirus thread: Beeminder, personal goals, and COVID-19

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This post has a substantial amount of pessimism, and should not be read by the faint of heart.

Week Six! The current zeitgeist has been increasingly revolved around COVID-19, and I am no exception. My morale has taken a toll this week, and I have had to re-evaluate my foundational values in order to return to the rate of productivity I was at previously.

A global crisis such as this one, (particularly because you are stuck in social isolation) allows you to take a deep look at what actually matters. There is a great deal that I had thought to be important and meaningful that is no longer–whether because of current conditions, or because it actually wasn’t ever important in the first place.

Before I get into my personal systems and my new approach to work, I must take an aside to describe why exactly I am so concerned. Just a forewarning: I am a total layman that only has access to the information given to the general public, I do not have the capability to properly understand the epidemiology nor the virology that has been discussed in scientific papers. This is merely an aggregation of what I have been seeing from multiple journalistic sources. These are broad generalizations, and I hope I am incorrect about them in the pessimistic direction.

Alarmist Assumptions of COVID-19

  1. Some people with the virus are asymptomatic.
  2. Some people get very sick from the virus, particularly if they have concurrent illnesses or disease.
  3. There are multiple reports of reinfection occurring, meaning that the body might not develop an immunity after recovering.

These three observations have far-reaching consequences. It is possible that quarantine and self-isolation will be required to ensure the safety and health of vulnerable populations until a vaccine is developed, which would roughly be around September 2021 regardless of how quickly research and testing is done.

An alternative would be regional quarantine, where all infected populations recover and no outside population is allowed in. However, the possibility of re-infection could nullify such a protocol anyways.

This would not be such a big deal, were it not for the lack of precaution and initiative taken originally. A week ago, it was universally advised that the large majority of commercial activity would only cease for two weeks. I am unsure if this was due to lack of understanding, or as an attempt to slowly ease people into isolation by promising small amounts of time that get prolonged incrementally.

Gratitude: Taking Stock

In spite of my worries described above, I recognize that things locally are actually being handled extremely well. My province has been doing some of the most amount of testing per capita in North America, and a large amount of measures are being taken to ensure the safety, financial stability, and health of citizens. There are less than 200 cases in my province as of writing.

My family is doing well, and I have total ability to work remotely. I am an extremely introverted person, so I should not really have any problem with self-isolation. However, I had been going to numerous networking events the past few weeks and trying my best to be more social in-person, and not having the ability to do that anymore kinda bums me out.

But I have plenty to do otherwise at home–I had just finished building a bookshelf that is full, so I have plenty of reading material. I have also enjoyed spending time cooking, playing instruments, homemaking and interior decorating, playing with my cat, and practicing equipment-less workouts. I have everything I need.

One take away that has already become apparent is that people are fundamentally kind and good, I have only seen selfless compassion and sharing, in spite of much worry and confusion. There is a universal bond holding humanity together right now–we all share a common, microscopic enemy. We are all apart of what needs to be done.

The world will fundamentally change, and is starting to already. I believe the display of fragility of the economy demonstrates how people are becoming more cognizant of their inherent value, not just as workers, but as human beings.

The status quo has been effectively undermined, and we cannot comfortably sink back into it after things stabilize again. The momentum that has been started by something out of out control can be continued by our control.

Three Questions

There are three questions which I think are vital to meditate on and answer in order to reposition yourself properly:

  1. What is true? What can we agree is objective fact? What is significant enough to put faith into as being true?
  2. What is meaningful? How is this a story we can tell? How do we frame this truth as a narrative and map it out?
  3. What is useful? What do we need to function and prosper? How are these utilities related to our truth and meaning?

These are difficult and heavy questions, they require a lot of chewing time. But I believe any good action taken requires this initial framework. I have a particular set of skills, talents, and capabilities, but they are rather ineffective without understanding what is needed to help others right now.

More importantly, I find it difficult to go back and do the work and utilize my capabilities I was doing without this re-evaluation. My original intention and goals seem frivolous without a new framework. I know my values are in the right place, because this post I wrote a few months ago resonates with me far more powerfully now.

A Postcard Idea

I’m learning how to be a good software developer so I can help create and maintain tools and infrastructure that will benefit the public good, but that requires a lot of time, and every second counts during situations like this. I think that’s why I’m having such difficulty figuring things out for myself–I need to walk the walk.

How can I help my local vulnerable population and local businesses? Or maybe more importantly, how do I help others help them? This Neighborhood Postcard is a fantastic idea, and I’m trying to figure out a way to scale the idea and digitize some sort of (safe) public database/matching service for people who need help and people who are able to help. But for now, just sharing the idea itself is good.

New Schedule

  • Be rigorous with a schedule. Isaac Newton had his most productive time during isolation, however if you are unused to working from home, it can be incredibly easy to only procrastinate. Nobody can keep you accountable except yourself.
  • Go outside for an hour per day. Although going out to commercial places with others is discouraged, you can still go outside and take a walk perfectly fine (even if you have the virus!). It definitely helps with cabin fever and gives you a chance to really take a look at your neighborhood. The Wandering Precepts from Keri Smith’s book are a really good guide.
  • Reach out to everyone. Everybody is somehow effected by this, don’t be afraid to take time each day to check-in with people, even those you don’t regularly talk to or haven’t talk to in awhile. We’re all in this together.
  • Allocate time for deep work. Although it is good to keep in contact with people, it’s as equally important to make sure that you minimize distractions when you’re working and allocate time specifically for that as well. We aren’t really designed to multi-task, and a lot more can get done if you’re focusing on just a single thing, which is paramount if you’re doing important, meaningful work.
  • Figure out self-care. Understand what actually helps you rejuvenate, versus what makes things merely comfortable/numb can be difficult to differentiate. Allocating time for play and rest is more important than allocation for work.

P.S. @dreev thanks for the suggestion! I’ll figure out a way to summarize my thoughts and post something substantial and brief into the coronavirus thread. :slight_smile:

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Week Seven! Well, sort of at least.

I have been doing a lot of abstract, head-in-the-clouds kind of thinking the past two weeks, and as a consequence I’ve sort of neglected talking about Beeminder or my systems. I feel as though this is because they are, by design, low-level and practical thinking. The ability to transform high-level into low-level so you actually get things done is tricky, but also incredibly meaningful.

I am beginning to feel as though it is self-defeating to meditate on the future, and lofty accompanying ideas. There’s a sort of paralysis that comes with this, and it is difficult to shake myself into getting back into the mundane and practical daily tasks that I ought to be doing.

I think this is because thinking, no matter how important the issue may be, is not doing. This allows my monkey mind to take over as per usual, allowing me to slip out of being intentional with my actions and wander into laziness.

I have spent a good amount of time and effort into creating a good workspace for myself–so I need to use it. I sincerely do not feel as though it would be anybody’s obligation to try and be “productive” during a crisis like this, however I feel privileged enough personally to do so.

Something I’ve noticed is the paradoxical nature to my way of thinking, perhaps even hypocritical, is how independent and in solitude my work is when my highest-priority values are community and others. I don’t really know how to rectify this, as I’ve yet to really find anybody else that I can do this sort of work with who’s on the same wavelength as I am, so to speak.

I need to be more strict with myself. It is most apparent now that only I am able to hold myself accountable, however that is actually always the case. Relying on external factors to push me forward will never be a good idea. At the same time, I need to effortlessly throw away all the mistakes and setbacks I’ve made, as their weight does no good to me.

System Review

  • Retroratchet both /daily and /gratitude, since if I have a “free day” I tend to just skip it and do 2 when it’s in the red instead, which isn’t actually that bad but still isn’t optimal and can be fixed with this reduction. If I derail because of it, oh well.
  • Devote more time in both my weekly and daily schedule to writing (Eg. /journalbar, /poetry and /blogging), in spite of having more free time now to work on things, I have instead spent less time on them.
  • Devote more time in both my weekly and daily schedule to learning (Eg. /courses, /rescuetime, and /github), pretty similar to my above self-grievance.
  • Also need to be more mindful of my health–snacking is an easy thing-to-do in isolation. I need to start figuring out at-home gym exercises and devote time to a daily walk. I also finally bought a scale again, so I’ll be able to start tracking /weight again as well.

New Systems

  • /sleep: I added this a couple of weeks ago but didn’t comment on it, using my FitBit I am tracking the amount of time I sleep per day. Seems to be fairly consistent so far, which is a good thing yet boring to track. Maybe I need to figure out a way to track wake-up and sleep times?
  • /bulletjournal: I just added this today. I want to start holding myself accountable to writing in my bullet journal a few times per week–not daily since I don’t have that much going on–but consistent enough for it to be useful and meaningful.
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Week Eight! Which is more accurate than my last entry, which was rather late. I feel as though double-posting this week would be a good way to make up for that. The longer I use Beeminder regularly, the more the phrase better late than never rings true for me.

As long as I get work done relatively close to when I assigned to myself, I don’t really stress about it. There’s the popular concept in self-development circles of not breaking the chain and ensuring you complete a task every single day without exception, but personally I find that just accelerates burnout.

Of course, the extremely formidable with impeccable work ethic do manage to never break their chain, but when you look at work created with an ultra-consistency, it tends to become rather bland and boring after a certain point. (Looking at you, The Simpsons.)

One idea I’ve been looking into is the commonplace which I’ve noticed @narthur has as on his website, and Buster Benson has as piles on his, I find these really cool in both form and functionality, and plan on developing something similar.

I’ve been told I have a knack for curation, so I figure I might as well formalize it. I’ve been looking into setting up Notion for this (Thomas Frank has an excellent video on the software), but it’s a task in itself to master it.

In addition to being a commonplace, I figure I’d try using Notion to keep track of MOOCs I’ll be taking, as well as setting up an internal editorial calendar for my writing. Like I said, Notion itself is a powerful (and thus complex) tool that I need to research. It’d also be super helpful to figure out a way to Beemind it.

It can be difficult to figure out what pieces of information are important/meaningful when you begin curating, and I figure my biggest problem jumping into this is to not get caught up in the weeds or dive too deeply into any rabbit holes. I’m also planning to start a weekly newsletter on Substack of the most interesting/useful things I find.

Current Systems

  • One thing I noticed is that my Fitbit doesn’t automatically sync sometimes (not sure why), and so I nearly derailed on /sleep and /fitness, luckily when it does sync, it’ll retroactively adjust the numbers on the days previous that it missed.
  • I’ve noticed the redunancy that /daily and /gratitude have, since they’re both a simple, daily manual input. I’m not sure if there’s enough utility to justify keeping both.

New Systems

  • /french: I figure since I have so much free time at home with the current situation, I might as well start doing daily Duolingo lessons. I don’t think they’re particularly effective, but implementing such a small habit help me chain other positive habits.
  • /tweets: It took me a long time to figure out how I’d like to use Twitter, but essentially it’s just going to be a place for me to record daily progress and quickly add things that’ll be later properly transferred to Notion. I don’t intend on using the website for social media.

Schedule Tasks

There can be a sense of being overwhelmed when adding more systems to your Beeminder. I feel as though a good solution to feeling overwhelmed would be translating my Beeminder systems into a one-page document outlining what I ought to be doing each day.

I developed such a document before, and although was pretty good, it was more rooted in nebulous ideals that weren’t directly connected to an output such as Beeminder’s quantitative measurement of progress and action. As such, these daily actions weren’t really accomplished that well or at all most of the time, so I decided to update them accordingly. You can view a PDF version here.

  • Start today off right! Do good and be meaningful—Try your best.
    • Wake up early and make your bed as soon as you get up. Clean your room. Listen to upbeat music and visualize what you’ll be doing for the day. Try to prepare as much the night prior, as well as make sure you have a healthy breakfast.
  • Meditate on Intentionality. Plan the day effectively and minimally.
    • Prepare a to-do list of the most important tasks that need to get done today. View all long-term goals and make sure you’re making progress towards them. Section out different parts of the day for different activities. Don’t waste time — it’s limited.
  • Generate ideas, research important topics, draft and edit good writing.
    • Document how you feel and what your plans are for the day, as well as the progress being made. Research, draft, and publish articles and blog posts. Archive all work. Keep track of poetry, prose, and other creative work being written as well.
  • Focus on deep work, effective tasks, and self-education.
    • Prioritize time to your most important tasks, namely learning and working. Ensure progress is being made in classes both online and in real life. Large amounts of time should be dedicated to tasks that make progress towards goals.
  • Be grateful for what you have, stop and breathe—Take stock of it all.
    • Focus on the many good things in life, as well as contemplate where you’re able to do better and improve. Relax, slow down, breath in and out, and think of the bigger picture. Take time to recite morning and religious prayers, memorize them.
  • Eat Healthy and Eat Less—Practice veganism, sobriety, and OMAD.
    • Be mindful of what you’re eating, and only eat at the dinner table. Look over cookbooks for inspiration and add items to your recipe box. Don’t waste money or calories on junk food or eating out. Take time for spiritual fasting as well.
  • Keep yourself active, stand up as much as you can, work out often.
    • Maintain physical fitness on a daily basis. Take some time out of your day to go for a jog, practice at-home routines. There are plenty of opportunities to get active.
  • Practice frugality—You already have everything that you need.
    • Don’t waste your money or your time, you have less of both than you think. Don’t shop unless it’s essential, and don’t do things that aren’t essential to do, unless you enjoy doing them. Figure out ways to maximize both each day.
  • Archive everything meaningful and important into the Commonplace.
    • Don’t let the important and interesting slip away easily. Save everything you find throughout the day in one place, and categorize these things consistently.
  • Just Relax! Have fun and play. Don’t just work all day.
    • Don’t forget to spend time on creative projects, as well as wind down at the end of the day. Spend as much time on analogue activities as you can. Wander aimlessly!

Bonus: New Mission Statement

I am highly concerned with the state of others, both with empathy and attention-to-detail. I often notice when people don’t understand things that are presumably easy to understand, and focus on what needs to be changed to become more intuitive instead of trying to reprimand the person or try to overexplain. (Since things are usually rather confusing.)

I want to dedicate my life to building and nurturing a legacy that’s focused on community – helping people understand and care for each other, as well as depolarize individuals and groups to foster unity. I believe that important work such as this is its own reward, and I value important ideas being recognized moreso than just myself. As long as I am in a work environment that allows me to focus on my values, the details of that environment are very minor to me. Similarly, as long as I have enough money to achieve stability, the details of salary are very minor to me.

In the grand scheme of things, there is a small amount of time we are given where we can focus on what we think is important, and it is too easy to get caught up in what’s safe or easy, so I want to push myself to live in discomfort as much as possible in order to be able to do the right thing even when it’s really difficult to do so.

I hope to work with like-minded people so we can keep each other accountable to these ideals, and who are casual in character, but strict about work being done. I want to hold myself up to the highest standard I can, because I deserve to be able to do the best work that I’m capable of doing. It is important to be weary of burnout, and even more important to find its threshold, to put the most amount of effort you can into work you love without reaching that point

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Week Nine! Okay, it’s actually more like Week Twelve, because it’s been an entire month since my last update. Womp womp. Time to necro this thread, hah.

It’s been a long time since I’ve updated mostly due to usual akrasia. My systems have largely been uneventful, but that’s no excuse.

I think one of my biggest weaknesses is that I can get caught up in caring about what other people think. The longer I keep this up, the more I start to get concerned about expectations, and that fear can cripple me. Luckily, the solution to this is easy, I just have to remember that what other people think isn’t actually relevant.

This is usually obvious to me, but when I begin thinking long-term, I can get caught up in swing of things. The momentum of a project gives it a weight that I’m not used to and don’t know how to control well, if that makes any sense.

And then you let your monkey mind wander, and suddenly it’s May because time slips by so effortlessly if you aren’t being intentional.

Oh, another useful excuse as to why I’ve been absent is demoralization I felt, because I had a lot of work from another technical failure. Weeks worth of coding assignments, and years of writing. Because I had been slacking on using Git (never again, let me tell you), I wasn’t able to recover any of my programming work, but that isn’t a big deal. It’s just something I need to shrug off.

My writing, however, was far more heartbreaking. And I’ve been spending a lot of time creating a web scraper and HTML parser and thankfully I’ve been able to salvage ~90% of my work since it was once hosted on a website.

Of course, archive everything, and with redundancy. I have a USB I’m putting everything important on now, as well as Dropbox. For one reason or another, I’ve been finding myself hopping from one computer to another, and haven’t really felt like I’ve had the ability to create something larger and long-term. Though, that might be psychological too, though.

Anyways, the only real update I have to my Beeminder is that I’m going to be archiving /daily and /bulletjournal, since they’re both very-often manual input, which seems redundant (in a non-useful way) that I can just use /gratitude for instead.

Another thing that’s been on my mind is figuring out new, interesting things to beemind. I’ve had the same ideas for systems for years now, and I need to look at others for inspiration on different and creative possibilities. This also coincides with how I want to start a resource-hub for free/cheap hobbies, but I digress.

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Alright, time to do some catch-up work. Quarantine has definitely been a little stir-crazy for me, I shaved my head, grew out a beard for the first time, and had my birthday. Of course though, I had no party.

After a lot of navel-gazing, I’ve come to the thought that I require boredom, and a lot of it. The more stimulated and interested I am in something, the faster time passes by, and usually I’m interested in unproductive things.

Being bored slows things down, it forces my mind to stop trying to find a small hit of dopamine and actually focus on what’s important to me, which is admittedly uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable because I feel like I’m so far behind on so much, and I cannot help but feel bad for the time I’ve wasted. It feels difficult to try to begin something, because I feel it’s inevitable that it too, will just wander off.

A rigid schedule with workflows is what I require, but it’s so easy to get bombarded with information when you try to research that sort of thing. I always end up with 15 tabs open that I never end up reading because it just makes me too anxious, silly right?

I find that I can either act in the daily, short-term or I can act in the nebulous long-term, but I have extreme difficulty trying to converge the two. The act of taking a lofty dream-like goal and breaking it down into pieces just never seems to work. In truth, I never get close, I never make (what I feel) is like meaningful progress.

The only time I ever have a project finished is in hindsight. When I feel truly inspired to work at a single task for long enough, eventually a good product emerges that I’m proud of. But that’s rare. I’m so often wandering and jumping from one thing to the next.

When I really take a step back, the greatest of people are a distillery. The most talented and hard-working of people often produce only a handful (or even just one) of great work that they’re remembered for. Only the true fanatics hundreds of thousands of small pieces that were completed daily to work towards that great work. I just wish I knew how to properly propel myself to such a destination.

Systems Review

  • Both /poetry and /courses require rate slow downs, as they both require more time and effort to do well.
  • /gratitude had a daily entry that has gone from a digital to an analogue one, since writing (supposedly) creates better connections in your brain.
  • /tweets to my surprise, has been an excellent way to do a daily review. Currently, my account is private and I’m not following anybody, so it’s more like a digital diary with a bunch of API potential.
  • /duolingo is also doing surprisingly well, I will have to actually increase the rate soon, since I often skip days due to surpassing my current goal, and Duolingo punishes you a lot more heavily for not maintaining daily streaks.
  • /sleep is just on the edge of derailing often, something else that caught me off guard. I feel like I’ve been sleeping way too much, but the data says otherwise. I need to figure out ways to increase the quality of my sleep, not quantity.
  • /productivity derailed once, but that’s not a surprise at all considering that my lack of activity was unproductive.
  • /fitness is going great! I’ve started biking a lot which has been enjoyable exercise that’s distant from other people. But sadly /weight has plateaued, I need to take calorie restriction a lot more seriously.
  • /blogging really needs to up the ante. I’ve set it for months because it causes me the most anxiety because it’s the most important system to me. Isn’t that funny?
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Week Ten! Man, I’ve been busy this week. Not entirely related to Beeminder, but using journal.bar/ as inspiration, I’ve decided to migrate my blog from WordPress to Jekyll and upload the source code to my GitHub repository here, with the name notebook.casa!

This is the first time I’ve built an entire website from scratch without using a template, so I’m pretty proud of myself. Of course, there’s a bunch of stuff I need to do, specifically because the WordPress-to-Jekyll plugin that I used was kinda buggy, meaning that I need to go through each post (and there are a lot) and fix them by hand.

Jekyll also has a lot of handy plug-ins, and one that’d piqued my interest is Octopod, which would make it super easy to host my own podcast independently, as I’ve been thinking of beginning one.

Speaking of, I haven’t made a blog post in a few months now, and upped my Beeminder for it so that I’ll be required to post one soon. I think I’ll write about why I think it’s important to not only have your own website, but to host it independently.

If anything, my motivation for going into web development is trying to de-monopolize the current state of the internet from the handful of large social media platforms (in futility, of course.)

My main reference regarding the design of my new site is Buster Benson’s, and I particularly find his visual representation of life to be such a refreshing perspective, and I hope to figure out a way to thoughtfully imitate it. It makes me realize how I shouldn’t be rushing things and meditate on how to achieve long, lofty goals.

But that seems so difficult. I always end up with fifty tabs open, unable to meaningfully collect and organize information–I’m often just flying by the seat of my pants. Not to mention I only find myself being truly productive when it’s very late at night (writing this out at 3am, for example) as much as I would like to be a morning person.

I’m not entirely sure how to Beemind myself out of these little bad habits–to figure out how to systematize a constant mindfulness and intentionality throughout the day. I recognize the importance of consistency yet disregard it so often when my willpower is drained.

One small change I’ve been doing is switching from podcasts to audiobooks. As interesting as bite-sized content is, it worries me how there are so many amazing books that I’ve yet to read (or hear, rather). Any suggestions would be super appreciated.

Week Eleven! Or rather, twelve? I apologize for the confusing chronology, that’s a self-embedded punishment of slacking off.

I’ve realized I have difficulty with self-permission. The paradox of choice makes it nearly impossible to really understand what I truly want to do in life, let alone how to act on it.

When I was younger, it felt easy to blog about whatever I wanted, whenever. But the older I get, the more heavy the weight of responsibility feels. In spite of my age, I have no expertise or authority–no formal education. I find it increasingly difficult to attempt an effective discussion. Perhaps that’s a reason why I began this venture–as a way to write often without feeling the pressure of my writing needing to be original or impactful, since I’m just providing mundane updates regarding my personal progress.

To be honest, taking a brief glance at my current list of Beeminders makes me feel overwhelmed. It feels as though there are so many prerequisites, like I already have a tangled and complex mess on my plate. The truth is that I don’t, and in fact I have a lot of free time on my hands that I’m wasting.

The truth is that I am in a very privileged position where I have the opportunity to do nearly whatever I want, which really just adds pressure and guilt.

While I think it’s a toxic idea to compare yourself to others, I can’t help but to compare myself to where I ought to be by now. I’m in my mid-20’s now and don’t feel like I have anything much to show for it. I’ve had dreams and goals since I was a kid, and they’ve become smaller and more humble as I’ve grown older–which is kind of sad.

An important quote from the stoic Seneca comes to mind: "These actions are not essentially difficult; it is we ourselves that are soft and flabby."

New Systems

  • /writing: I already have three beeminders related to my writing, but they’re regarding finished products. I’m gonna try using Draft to start to help make me more consistent in when I write, as well as having all my writing in one place.
  • /books: I spoke before about being concerned about my lack of book reading, and realized I should beemind it! I just finished the heartbreaking memoir Beautiful Boy by David Sheff, and am currently on Stillness is Key by Ryan Holiday.
  • /distractions: I completely forgot that I still had this goal archived, whoops. It uses RescueTime to ensure that I waste as little amount of time in front of my computer as possible.

Week Thirteen! I couldn’t tell you exactly what the cause is, but for the past few days, things have sort of clicked with me.

This graph is really important to me. I’ve been finding myself motivated by grid-based progress graphs recently, and GitHub’s is specifically fantastic.

Having to constantly view my complete lack of progress in April prompts me to do work each day. It makes me cognizant of the fact that I cannot change the past, no matter how badly I did in it, BUT that I can always change the action I’m taking right now. That I can always do good from this point onward.

An Aside: Systems

Something important to note about Beeminder is that it represents only one particular system, specifically the upward spiral. Theoretically, the good that you do begets more good, and this feedback amplifies itself. The opposite of this is the death spiral, wherein a system is self-destructive until the point of no longer functioning.

The large majority of systems do not fit within either of these two definitions, however. They are neutral occurrences that happen throughout the universe. The ebb and flow, the natural in-and-out, the life and death of all things.

When we are apart of one of these complex, ever-moving systems, we do not recognize it. Only a two-dimensional slice of a three-dimensional entity is in our inherent view. And the use of logical fallacies and ego fill in what we cannot see or comprehend–the belief of detached freedom and total control.

This all may seem rather nebulous, but I believe this understanding is a required foundation. You cannot build yourself a good system without recognizing the ones you’re already within.

I have been on Beeminder for five years, and I’ve been researching self-improvement for a decade, but only now am actually doing good instinctively and without a copious amount of conscious effort.

When I began this Bee Journal in February, I had only 5 beeminders that I was looking after. I now have 15 that I am able to handle with relative ease. I believe this is the case because they feed into one another–they are all a part of a larger system–which I will show in my system review.

Systems Review

Writing:

  • Writing: This keeps track of each word that I type on Draft, which eventually will become a finished work within one of the following:
    • Blog: My current blog, connected via IFTTT on Medium for ease of automation. I’m still trying to find my voice and what I’d like to consistently write about, but I am going to be starting to post bi-weekly.
    • Journalbar: That’s what you’re reading! A side-blog where I force myself to review and reflect what I want/ought to be doing vs. what I’m actually doing.
    • Poetry: I’m currently writing a new poetry chapbook, and publish one new piece per week.
  • Twitter: Not exactly related to my other writing, but I’ve been using Twitter as a private, short journal for daily summaries and progress.

Productivity:

  • Productive Time: A daily count of software and website monitoring. Recently had to increase the rate to 3 hrs/day, since I’ve been on the computer so much.
    • GitHub: Keeping track of the commits I push to my coding repositories, also had to increase the rate since I’ve been programming a lot.
    • Courses: Keeping track of the courses I’ve been taking, currently on a good tutorial about express and node.js!
  • Distracting Time: Ideally, I want to be spending all of my recreational time on analogue, since I have to spend so much time in front of a screen for work.

Fitness:

  • Daily Activity: I’m aiming for 10k steps a day, and I usually take an hour-long walk or bike ride daily–I find it really helps with my ability to work mentally.
  • Sleeping: Sleep hygiene is a major issue for me. I need to convert this to a custom goal since I also want to cap the amount that I’m sleeping to further improve my consistency.
  • Weight: Having to archive and do-over this system, since it can be automated with my FitBit now.

Lifestyle:

  • Gratitude: Writing down one thing that I’m grateful for, each day.
  • Duolingo: Currently in the silver league! Aiming for two lessons in French per day.
  • Books: Currently taking out audiobooks on Libby which are not only free, but also give me only two weeks to make sure I get through the entire book.

As you can see, these systems are not only categorically related, but they also feed into one another. Eg. I’m able to do more work and more writing when I’m more physically active and sleep better, or I’m able to get through audiobooks while going on a walk, or writing and coding are naturally increase my productive time in front of a computer.

Week Fourteen! Everything has been going as idealistically good as it possibly can be. I think one of the (perhaps many) reasons why I’ve been successful on Beeminder is because of the Hawthorne Effect, which states that: individuals modify an aspect of their behavior in response to their awareness of being observed.

Merely keeping track of something will improve it, which is why I still kinda wish that Beeminder had agnostic goals with no consequences (aka payments) just for the sake of testing. Seems like a good power-user feature to me.

That all being said, I think I need to begin a pivot. As much as I enjoy sharing my thoughts on Beeminder, I feel like I need to start prioritizing other writing. Of course, I’ll still be doing my Bee Journal, because I’d most definitely fail if I had enough hubris to think that I could keep being successful without a weekly public update.

I’m not exactly sure what this’ll look like yet, I’m guessing these updates will be a lot shorter. I’ll still be posting longform pieces to Journal Bar But I don’t want to constantly be posting off-topic stuff to the Beeminder forum.

Systems Update

  • /spending: As silly as I still think it is to have a punishment of spending too much money be to spend even more money, I think it’ll be really good in the long-run for me to keep track of my daily expenses manually like this. I also love the presumptive pessimistic approach for manual do-less goals.
  • /blogging: Got a huge push, I just posted my first article in awhile, and I stepped it up to two posts a month and weaseled-proofed it. I have to get serious about the goals that are serious to me.