Brennan's Beeminder Journal

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


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?

Week Ten! Man, I’ve been busy this week. Not entirely related to Beeminder, but using 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!

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: 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.

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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.

Week Fifteen! This has been an difficult week, full of pain and hurt–and attempts at healing. In my non-coding time I’ve been figuring out ways to best help the BIPOC community, I helped make a small, local resource list, specifically on trying to find some sort of semblance of healing or peace.

I think the most difficult part is recognizing that this isn’t novel or out of nowhere–only this intensity of response from others. I feel regret not being as involved in activism as I ought to be, particularly being an indigenous person in Canada.

There’s a sense of ease when doing things in a logical, Matryoshka-esque order. In theory, only focusing on myself at first, then my community, then the world at large.
I am a layman, and have no expertise or academic insight to share. I lack confidence and a sense of competency trying to make big changes when I feel like I don’t have my own personhood set in order.

But, of course, when is anybody ever actually completely functional? There is no end destination, nor is there any objective criteria that you can reference. At the very best, we can all only do what we think is right. Talk isn’t enough–I do not care of what others think of my personal meritocracy–meaningful intent and thorough action is the only thing that matters.

New Systems

  • /weight: Again, switching it from a manual input to automatic through FitBit in order to integrate the data with the rest of the fitness suite.
  • /weightcheck: A manual, daily check-in for measuring my weight. I know you’re not supposed to weigh-in that often, but I figure the more data, the more insight. I don’t really have any feeling about this one way or another, either.
  • /collection: A new, experimental system that I’m going to be trying, where I put anything interesting that I find as a data input, as a way to try to be more cohesive with my curation of interests.

Week Sixteen! This was a pretty big week for me. I built my first website from scratch, a web portfolio for myself. It’s still a bit of a prototype–I gave myself only 3 weeks to complete it.

Of course, Beeminder is on the homepage. I’m sort of using my system embeds as a means of a “Now” page, an idea that Derek Sivers came up with. Sure, it’s useful to display all your accolades and past accomplishments, but what are you currently doing? What’s being worked towards?

On the topic, I was listening to an audiobook that had the quote now is now. That’s all there ever is for us, really. There’s no point in ruminating on the past or being anxious about the future. We are always stuck in the present, and might as well make the most of what we have.

I know that sounds like a corny (and obvious) platitude, but there are moments when I really feel like I’m snapping into the moment, like I’m coming up for air from underwater, gasping in somewhat-horror that I was underneath for so long without realizing it.

Even with all the pokes, prod, and reminders that Beeminder gives me to do good every single day, I still find myself managing to get stuck on autopilot and waste time mindlessly.

I’ve been ramping up a lot of my different Beeminds, as I find that if I’m in the red for something, I’ll do it 100% of the time, but really just neglect a task entirely if I give myself a safety buffer. I’m getting closer to having an ideal daily routine that I can feel good about.

I feel like there’s a paradox that, even though I’m juggling a lot of different systems, there’s plenty of time still left where I can afford to do nothing. Maybe I need to step up even more, but I’m still trying to figure out what that’d look like.

Current Issues:

  • Idea Generation: I have no idea how to really beemind ideation. It’s a tricky and somewhat nebulous concept.
    • Ideally, I’d like to collect and curate interesting things (hence my new /collection system).
    • I think it’s very important to be mindful of the fact that creative output requires creative input, which is a reason why I’ve been reading more.
    • But there’s something paradoxical and counter-intuitive of trying to mechanically capture that at a set amount of time.
  • Analogue Writing: I want to write more on paper, like a lot more, but I don’t see a way of making myself do that.
    • A manual input goal isn’t really working because it’s so easy to fabricate. Is there a way to hack that?
    • And, that’s also one of those things that I want to do less if I need to do it. Maybe I’m just being dramatic.

I’ve also noticed that the #1 indicator of failure for me is social pressure. I’ll stay up late and essentially ruin my sleep schedule just to hang out with friends, or waste money ordering (usually unhealthy) food. I need to be more strict with myself and others. I need to actually live out and apply these principles.

(P.S. Didn’t know where to put this, but I actually had a possibly-good idea: Imagine if you could sync your sleep tracker with your phone’s audio so it’d automatically pause whatever you were listening to when it detected you fell asleep. Anyone do that yet?)

Week Seventeen! It’s been a rather quiet week for me. I’ve mostly been doing team-based assignments learning and studying the React library and the large amount of novel concepts it brings to the table. Having my nose to the grindstone has let me had time to meditate on the difference between planning work vs. doing work. Or, as @adamwolf quotes ZeFrank, sharpening pencils vs. using them. I wonder if this Bee Journal is merely the act of sharpening–navel-gazing that doesn’t really propel me forward.

I used to be a lot worse at this when I was younger. When I did feel like I wanted to actually work hard, I’d spend hours reading about self-improvement, and plan out what my ideal day would be, and then I’d be too tuckered out to actually start implementing anything and just go back to my regular, lazy routine.

I know that I’m doing a lot better, relatively speaking, I’m doing something productive on a daily basis. Doing anything, even small things, is far better than zero-days. The small, incremental work you do builds up over time, whereas zero is always just zero. Regardless, though, there feels like a lot of fluff in what I’m tracking.

A handful of my systems are there simply because there’s a fantastic API for it, and there are other things that I’d like to beemind, but don’t really have a practical way of doing so yet. I suppose a simple solution would just be to ramp up what I already have, but I’m afraid that I’ll just end up fudging the numbers if I do that, I know myself too well.

Systems Review

  • Derailment on /twitter, /weightcheck, and /distraction! Definitely in a bout of laziness. Though, the first two were simply just from putting on the simple task of updating them until the last minute, and then totally forgetting until around 12:30am. I need to set a hard limit for myself to make sure nothing is in the red after 11pm.
  • Finally added /photos, in spite of the above, my Twitter system has been going well, so I figure I’ll try something similar with Instagram, where I practice my photography daily on a private account.
  • Added “weekends off” for all of my systems, as I figure I should give myself time to actually relax and not worry about productivity. And also not try to work seven days a week. Crazy idea, I know.
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Beeminder does have this - it’s a Beemium feature!

For both these things I just beemind spending time on it - so beemind just taking a pad of paper and thinking for 15 min a day, or beemind writing in your journal every day.

What do you mean about being easy to fabricate? If you mean entering false data, don’t ever do that! It messes up your records and then they’re no longer accurate! Doesn’t it freak you out to think of that?


You bring up a very good point. I wish it did, hahaha. In the grand scheme of things, absolutely I don’t want messed up or fabricated data. But in the past, when I felt exhausted from other work, then in-the-moment I just caved and just press the simple button to prevent derailing without doing the work.

I suppose it just a matter of holding myself up to a higher standard, and accumulating more willpower.

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Ok that’s easy to fix.

All you have to do is fix it the next day and delete the false data. You’ll be properly charged then.

Maybe set up a daily beeminder goal to check the accuracy of the data and delete any that’s not accurate.

It might be easier for you to do that way, since it’s no longer in the heat of the moment with the timer ticking down. :bomb:

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Week Eighteen! I wrote a post on productivity already this week, so I feel as though this is gonna be a little short.

  • /collection is going to be deleted, as I’m not really using it at all. I thought it’d be an interesting idea to try to collect interesting things as Beeminder data points, but it seems like using a dedicated program, such as Notion, would be more sensible.
  • /spending also needs to be deleted, or at least restarted, as it’s become a bit of a headache to retroactively go through my purchases. The easiest solution would be to stop spending, of course.
  • /writing needs changes to the automatic saftey buffer, since I’ve been getting into the habit of doing a lot of writing in a day then doing none for a few days after. Although this is far better than nothing, I’d much rather have the consistency of doing a small amount daily.

I’m really glad you added your input, Zed. And I’m glad I thought about it for awhile before responding. Initially, I thought the reason I prefer automatic data input vs. manual was because of mere laziness. The reality is though, I enjoy them because they are precise, as required by such a mechanical process.

In other words, I think I just wasn’t being specific enough with something like /bulletjournal, since there’s a lot or a little that you can do within that method of journal writing. I believe I need to implement the SMART criteria when creating a new system, particularly being specific with manual goals.

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Week Nineteen! I’m relieved to finally be finished with the React.js portion of the curriculum that I’m studying, and moving onto Python. I find the language to be a lot less hair-pullingly frustrating than JavaScript is. I’ve also finally had the time to go through a serious mind dump session and figure out what I want to be doing outside of the systems I already have in place.

An issue I have is trying to do things that I don’t have explicit Beeminders set for. I think it’d be a good idea to jot down all my thoughts and ideas and maybe try to figure out a way to Beemind them? Or, gasp, just actually do them regardless. I think.

Mostly, I want to somehow find a better balance between my technical work and my creative work. Hopefully I’ll be able to find a few publications to submit my work to, and have some more time to write. There’s this concept from the Do Work Journal from Baronfig I’ve been looking into, which is the dead-simple idea of:

  • Starting with your Quarter Milestones (or as Grey would put it, Seasonal Themes).
  • Having monthly goals that are directly related to getting progress done towards those milestones.
  • And then, having weekly tasks that are directly related to getting progress done on those goals.

Systems Updates

  • /photos, I’ve noticed, will not update in time for the midnight deadline if I post late at night. I’m not exactly sure why this is. Since my other IFTTT work fine with last-minute updates, I’m guessing this has something to do with how Instagram deals with their API.
  • /writing is also a little finicky, Draft doesn’t count words that are directly pasted instead of typed, although I could see this being a feature instead of a bug, it just means that I have to do practically all of my primary writing within Draft, or hack my way around it.
  • /french is going great! I’ve moved up to the Sapphire League. Duolingo’s competitive-based approach to learning motivates me a lot. I originally started with just 10XP/day but usually do at least 40XP daily.
  • /fitness is getting a harsh auto-trimming of the saftey buffer, as I should be doing 10,000 steps a day, minimum, to keep healthy.
  • /distraction is one of a couple of systems that I’ve zoomed in on (starting on my restart date this year instead of its inception in 2017), and I’ve noticed that having an auto-trim on a do-less goal makes it look rather interesting!
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Week Twenty! I started this experiment back in February, meaning that I’ve been my own accountability guinea pig for just over half a year now. Of course, I feel as though I’ve barely chipped away at my bad habits and negative traits, there is still progress I’d like to review.

Specifically, the idea of zero days, which is an idea that came from this Reddit comment that gained a lot of popularity within self-improvement communities.

TL;DR: The idea behind it is similar to James Clear’s idea of atomic habits, where it’s better to do one push-up in a day, than nothing at all. With the hope that, once the person is in the position to do a push-up, they’ll instead do five or ten.

As action begets more action the way inaction begets more inaction. Don’t let a single day go by where you don’t do anything at all that would better yourself.

Before jumping into this, there were many zero days where I felt strung-out. Now such a day would cause me a lot of money and derailments. Instead with Beeminder, I find myself having bare-minimum days instead. On days that I feel totally unproductive, here’s a qualitative list of what I have to do in order to not derail:

  • Meditate on what I’m grateful for.
  • Write ~500 words in a journal entry or some other medium.
  • Take an hour to study programming and work on assignments.
  • Take an hour-long walk outside to reach my step goal.
  • Read a couple chapters of the book I’m currently on.
  • Study French for around twenty minutes.
  • Write a summary of the day’s events.

That might seem like a silly humblebrag, but it’s more of a prelude to a cautionary message I’d like to share. In spite of all the self-help articles that list these kind of things as being important to start doing, and all the aspiring people looking to better themselves with this kinda stuff, I have to say that it doesn’t really change how I feel at the end of the day.

There is no buzzing sense of joy or euphoria when consistently practicing good habits–no deserved dopamine hit^. There is no balanced or equal reaction that you might get from indulging a bad habit, for instance.

I suppose I continue doing these things is because I feel as though I ought to, and I know there’s a vague building foundation towards larger works down the line. I know it’s a personal fault for not having something more concrete in the long-term future I could be telling myself I’m working towards, however.

That all said, I look forward to continuing this, and to keep adding new ideas and systems to keep pushing myself. I kind of regret putting 2020 in the title of this forum thread because I plan to go well beyond this year.

(^) There is, of course, a major exception to this: exercise.

Week Twenty-one! I always had this thought that being more mindful of my time, and being intentional would lead to a sense of time going by slower–since you’re taking everything in and thinking slowly. But time is going by for me just as quickly as ever–I can’t believe July is almost over! Of course, maybe it’s just because it’s good weather, as the cold Canadian winters always feel like they’re at a snail-pace, no matter how much I’m procrastinating.

This week has been rather uneventful, I feel. I’m currently in the Ruby league on Duolingo with a 60-day streak, and I feel like I’m actually beginning to learn French for the first time. Of course, I need to actually apply ways of immersion and application far beyond linguistic and grammar studying.

I also had a small emergency early in the week, and was surprised to see only two of my systems having non-legit derailments because of that. A good sign that I actually am beginning to know what I’m doing. Speaking more on that, the past few months feel like a trial run–showing to myself (and others) that I’m capable of consistent, routine work. Instead of constantly restarting, I have a bit of a foundation now, which is good! But it is just foundation.

I require of myself more concise guidelines for my future: 1-year-plan, 5-year-plan, 10-year-plan, etc. These have a lot more gravity to them than just a daily system. I’m reminded of a quote from E. L. Doctorow:

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

I wish life was like that, and I suppose a sort of life is, but I feel like long-term vision is mandatory when creating momentum for yourself. I’ve noticed it’s almost universal that success is a compound phenomenon–wherein the longer you work at a singular objective, the more exponentially it grows. But that requires both intelligence and wisdom, because there are also conversely those that work on something for a really long time and don’t really have anything to show for it–perhaps because of the sunk cost fallacy.

Anyways, that all being said, I have plans to centralize all the small projects I’m working on (warsaw mountain, journal bar, wander notebook, etc.) in an attempt to unify my work and have something that could actually make an income for myself. I’m really looking for communities (digitally, mostly) of similar-minded people to try to expand my plans, but that’s been rather difficult. I don’t even know where to start with that.

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Week Twenty-two! As someone who’s inherently anti-authoritarian, it’s weird to be happy about how the status quo and how its been going. I don’t really have much to say in the way of updates, since everything is working as intended.

For instance, it’s nice to see that my writing has gone from sporadic large entries to consistent small ones instead. Similarly, I stepped up to the Emerald league on Duolingo in just a week. I’ve been thinking of adding a Clozemaster system as a supplement.

Also, a new system that I’ve introduced in the past few weeks is /foodlog, which is a simple manual text-entry where I enter what I’ve eaten the day with the syntax Breakfast: X + Y // Lunch: Z + A // Dinner: B + C + D, etc. I figure that just the act of recording my dietary intake will help improve it.

I’m also trying to look for a community. Without having the ability to attend networking events (safely, at least) it’s a little puzzling still. The internet offers so much in means of opportunities, platforms, weird niche subcultures, etc. But where do you go if you’re trying to find people that wanna actually commit to doing meaningful work and have fun doing it?

I particularly want to find or start FOSS projects, now that I’m essentially a week from finishing my web development program. I’m not sure if it’s imposter syndrome or whatever, but I don’t really feel prepared to take on the landscape of the tech sector. I definitely feel like I learned a lot, but at the same time the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know anything at all.

More related, I’m really curious about Beeminder’s metrics. For instance, how the average user (or poweruser) makes use of Beeminder. I wonder if I’m “doing it right” or if I’m being too lax. I wrote about burnout in another thread, and I wonder if my fear of it is causing me to not push myself or work as hard as I’m really capable of. Although one thing that I’m sure these Bee journal entries are too long and self-indulgent, haha.

Oh, and next week’s entry is going to be a few days late, since I’m actually scheduling a vacation for once.

(PS. Totally unrelated to Beeminder: I love GitHub’s new profile README feature.)

I look forward to your posts every week–I do not think they are too long or self-indulgent.

It’s nice, isn’t it, that paying a little bit of attention to something as you record it can help you make changes in it?

I understand wanting to find a community, but I would recommend “staking your own territory” and not putting “finding a good community” 100% ahead of doing the things you’d personally do in that community. I am always on the lookout for ways my brain is trying to put unnecessary dependencies or perfection ahead of actually putting myself out there :slight_smile:

I have been a professional developer for over a decade now, and I started out as a die-hard Linux and FOSS evangelist. I volunteer a lot more hours than I “should” on FOSS projects, even today. There definitely isn’t a single “FOSS community” but I know there are a lot of alternate universes where my FOSS experiences have just crushed my spirit and soured my heart.

If you are interested in FOSS stuff, I would recommend a few things, most of which are applicable to all of life, not just FOSS:

  • Be careful about what you tie your identity to. If you define yourself as a developer and then isn’t right for you or the world or it turns bad or just isn’t purposeful anymore, you can spend a lot of valuable time towards something unhelpful.
  • Be careful about others, especially about security. Just because tech and programming can make the world a better place doesn’t mean that it always does, and there are folks out there who aren’t like the programmers at all who will use software in ways the programmers don’t intend. Try to look out for them and stop them from blowing their fingers off.
  • Keep an eye out towards which things in projects change over time, and which things stay the same. One of the key “senior engineer” skills is to balance abstractions and changeability, balancing “you’re not gonna need it” with “every project like this tends to morph this way–let’s see if we can make it easier in case we need to move that way in the future”. I have no solid tips here except for “do it a lot and you’ll see, if you care to stick with it.”

I’m not sure if straight metrics will help you find out if you’re using Beeminder “in the optimal way”–and they may even be counterproductive. I do, however, suspect case studies and people talking about their goals in journals like this would be helpful.


Week Twenty-three! I know I said this entry would be late, but I couldn’t help myself. I’m currently in a rather comfortable hotel room that I managed to book last minute as I make my way back to the city and back to work.

I tried my best to prepare Beeminder accordingly, but I’m afraid that it seems like I found out about my impromptu trip a little too late, and had a handful of derailments occur when I was out in the woods and couldn’t do much about them. I feel like that might have to do with me being forgetful about auto-ratcheting overriding breaks, I think? Regardless, I need to plan better.

Really, I’m not at all used to actually planning time off. I either work really hard, or I’m resolved to absolute laziness. Structuring my relaxation in general is entirely new to me. But I think it’s really great, as I am really biting to get back into the swing of things unlike when I procrastinate or otherwise neglect work for a handful of days (or longer).

It’s probably a problem that a lack of progress is so bothersome to me. In full transparency, looking at the flat lines that now encompass all of my beeminders begrudges me. I don’t think it’s the work itself, but rather the consistency of the work. Perhaps I am moreso wary of my own behaviour of letting the dying off of momentum beget less and less momentum.

Anyways, enough about the minutiae!

I wanted to thank you for your insights, @adamwolf . I’m glad I take a week to respond and meditate on such helpful advice instead of replying quickly and having it thrown into the ether with the insurmountable amount of other information that I find myself surrounded with.

It allows me to take the time to look into your work, and I simply have great admiration for what you do. I’m very grateful to get advice from somebody so experienced and I’d like to respond to your thoughts in detail.

First and foremost, identity: This is something I have had a reckoning with my whole long life. There are many labels that I associate myself with–be it out of voluntary want, or the realization that there’s an inability to escape them.

Specifically, I originally went to college to be a software developer four years ago. Three years before that is when I first began tinkering with makeshift themes on Tumblr, and installed Crunchbang! and began to fall in love with ability to create and destroy just by typing things.

I have realized at this point, whether I like it or not, I am a developer. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ It’s just too much fun to make websites and write out documentation and learn new technologies. Of course I don’t think I’m a good developer, but I develop.

Second, and I’m sure this can be attributed to my lack of experience and naïve attitude, but I frankly am not worried about being careful. I understand (or at least think I do) the consequences of the openness in open-source, and the weight of dependencies others inevitably cause. Even with worst-case scenarios, time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

I sincerely recognize where you’re coming from, but these are things that I’m steadfast in, whether that’s a good or bad thing.

(PS. Related to Beeminder this time, my girlfriend suggested I refer to my entire group of Beeminder systems as a Beehive. I’m really not sure if that’s too clever or too cheesy.)