Brennan's Beeminder Journal

Week Thirty-nine! I’ve been rather busy this week with a variety of things, specifically adopting a ten-year-old Tuxedo cat by the name Oreo! It also looks like a second lockdown is (finally) occurring locally, so I’ll be spending more time in front of a computer screen, most likely.

I had a derailment on /writing a few days ago, I was at around 330 words out of 350 on Draft, just a few minutes before midnight and didn’t make it through the threshold.

As I’ve talked about before, it might seem tempting to call a 20 word deficit causing a derail to be non-legit, but you should have the mindset that whatever your Beeminding is the bare minimum, and that you should be aiming to going above-and-beyond them. That’s why the auto-ratchet is a necessity, at least all in my opinion.

There’s been a lot of fruitful and interesting discussion on the Beeminder discord this week, too! (Invite link posted in entry #37) Along the same topic as above, the idea of paying for non-legit derails. @lanthala gave me the fantastic idea of starting a new Beeminder goal, /derail.

It’s a do-less goal that will derail when anything other than 0 is input for the day, or when there isn’t any input at all, thanks to Pessimistic Presumptive Reports. So it also doubles as a nice “check-in” goal because of that.

Completely unrelated, but I’ve began using to better collect and organize content I find on the interwebs. As well as YiNote for note-taking on videos and Airr for podcasts.

It’s really great to finally get more organized and intentional with my media consumption, but there’s no nifty automatic way to use these kind of tools with Beeminder, sadly. Though I could be wrong and I just need to lurk around more.

All of those are fantastic!

I have had the idea for a while that there needs to be an easy way to clip the last 10/30/60 seconds of a video/podcast. Ideally, it would integrate with Siri/Google Voice so that you could announce “Siri, clip it” and then it would automatically send the clip to your media hub (including a transcript).

I think YiNote does not really do the snippet thing. It just lets you add a note which could be frustrating when the video is taken offline and you cannot rewatch a section later.

I like how aims to collect all information at a central location. That is pretty neat. However, while it can download webpages it cannot do the same for video/audio snippets, I think?

Finally, what all of these tools are missing is a proper way to actually review the bookmarked material. I think there are a couple of threads here that discuss the anxiety around having to many tabs/bookmarks.

The solution for this challenge is spaced-review, in my opinion. I got the idea from Andy Matuschak. You can think of it like Anki, but the other way around. So the algorithm shows you a piece of media you have bookmarked in the past. You review it and then decide how important it is (high, medium, low). Depending on the rating the next review is scheduled in the future. The brilliance of that is that you never get that feeling of anxiety when you delete an article/video/podcast-bookmark, because you know it will show up again eventually.

If this doesn’t exist it should.

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Ah yes! You hit the nail on the head there. I actually found out about these from Byran Jenks’ video: My Comprehensive Obsidian Workflow For Zettelkasten and Evergreen Notes, where he aggregates all of these into Obsidian for later review/synthesis. A central idea being that the connections and correlations between different items/ideas/notes is as important as they are themselves.

Specifically for spaced repetition, there’s this video: Spaced Repetition with Obsidian and NeuraCache which might be of interest to you.

Thanks for sharing. Yes, NeuraCache does exactly what I have in mind. I just don’t like the implementation for some reason. In my opinion, the tool should be completely data agnostic. There should be no need to import data, only references. (Maybe it is already doing that and I missed it.)

Ah, wish I knew what I wanted. I know this goes into the right direction, but it is not there.

Ideally, it would run in the browser and then pull up the actually resources in an iframe. All you would have to manage were the URLs and the review schedule for each of them. That’s it.

I think that is the solution for the browser tab problem. Simply transform all tabs into bookmarks and then import the URLs into the review tool. Anxiety gone.

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Week Forty! I cannot believe that it’s the final month of the year. there’s been such a weird fluctuation of things going by too quickly and also dragging on at other times.

Unintentionally, I chose a rather interesting year to conduct this experiment–I have been fortunate with the amount of flexibility and freedom I’ve had to try new things, but also have had the most difficulty holding myself accountable and doing the work that I ought to precisely because of that.

I’m afraid I’ve become too comfortable with my current routine. The longer you do something, the easier it becomes, which means the less critical thinking it requires. At this point, I can breeze through a dozen beemergencies late into the night with relative ease. But what am I actually gaining from that? The beginner has the burden and luxury of requiring complete attention and focus to the task at hand.

I have been slowly trying to form a framework for more intentional living in general, with an emphasis on consumption synthesis, or rather, forming interesting and novel output (my own projects) from carefully selected input (the content that I consume daily).

Perhaps another reason for this complacency is a lack of intentionality: To what end result am I performing these Beeminder tasks for? Sure, I’m learning French each day, but for what practical usability? Or sure, I’m writing 400 words daily, but what is that cultivating towards?

The only way any of this matters is if I put the hard work into it. But this is not as simple as just upping the numbers and amount of time I’m putting into something, it is a qualitative issue, not a quantitative one.

I am not exactly sure what the solution is, but I think just being often mindful that it’s a problem is a good place to start. A more practical example is that I’m starting a hand-written journal in French, which seems to be a popular method for better learning.

In other more exciting news, after hearing me speak of Beeminder for several moons, my partner has gained enough curiosity to join and try Beeminder out! So I can at least add that as the (currently sole) victory to my constant evangelizing.

Week Forty-one! It’s been a bit of a difficult and introspective week for me. The cold weather and diminishing hours of the winter day are taking a bit of a toll on my morale and productivity. I’ve made a point to wake up around sunrise, and take a morning walk each day. You’d think that by now I’d get used to Canadian winters after living here… for my entire life, but alas.

Perhaps as an auto-didactic by nature, I’ve decided to compile a list of available certification that’s either free or relatively inexpensive. And subsequently, I’ve created a new system called /learning, which will use RescueTime to track the time I’m learning, using a custom subcategory to make sure it only counts specific websites. I also realize I really need to step /productivity in general, probably to five hours per day.

Right now, I’m studying Product Management on Udacity! The reason being that I think it’s important that I try to bridge my technical skills with my soft skills and content creation.

I’m probably going to use a Notion template for keeping track going forward. I’m looking forward to their API coming out in a few months! I admittedly am still trying to figure out my workflow.

I have to say, it’s very informative and rewarding to have this journal as a way to better understand my progress and journey in retrospect. I’m excited to look at all the specific metrics in detail when I hit the one-year mark in a couple of months.

In other good news, after much trial and error, my /weight is finally starting to go down at a reasonable pace. Like with everything else, there wasn’t any sort of silver bullet, rather just consistently being active and logging my food intake. As well as taking my own advice!

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Week Forty-two! After another interesting and productive conversation on the Beeminder discord, I’ve come to the (obvious) realization that edge-skating is bad! Take it from the test subject who has more than a dozen Beeminder goals that are set to derail daily.

My thinking previously for this was that, due to my akrasia putting things off until absolutely necessary, having things in the red is the only real way to push me to actually do them. If a goal has a yellow safety buffer of a day, then my monkeyweasel mind sees no reason to actually do it today instead of tomorrow.

In truth, this has worked really well for me so far, with only a handful of derailments all things considered. However, I am not infallible–what if something were to happen to me one fateful morning where I was totally incapacitated and wasn’t able to complete any of my daily tasks?

Would I want to reply to fifteen e-mails to call non-legit and make support fix and revert all those goals? Absolutely not, that would be a total nightmare for them! Instead I’d have to pay a hefty fine and manually fix all my goals myself–which would really just be a punishment solely for something bad happening to me.

The only sensible solution is to stop edge-skating. So, I’m going to slowly work up a buffer on all my goals, but that’s a lot easier said than done! :scream: Also @eugeniobruno had a great idea for pre-derails, which would make this solution a lot more enticing as well.

Anyways, in other news, I’m most likely going to be transition to a public Twitter and Instagram to better work on my digital marketing skills, as I plan to start a business soon (a minor announcement). I’m probably going to succumb and add a new Beeminder to track Facebook posts too along the same lines. It’d be great to expand to LinkedIn as well, but they deprecated their V1 API last March -eyeroll-.

Also, here’s a cute year-in-review from the Green Owl!:

My 2020 Duolingo Stats

Not too bad, I’d say! Speaking of, Duolingo just added audio lessons (on my mobile app at least, yay for A/B testing?) and it’s been a real game changer. Not only do these new lessons really help with my pronunciation, they’re also a lot more enjoyable and faster to get through than their traditional lessons.

Ironically, my pre derail ideas comes from the exact same “i realized edge skating is bad - duh!” place :slight_smile:

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Week Forty-three! (Whoops, lost count!) A minor update, but after many months of stagnation I’ve finally reached the Amethyst league in Duolingo! That 1st place in the Diamond league is one step closer to being mine, mwuhaha. Other than that, though, this week has been sort of blah.

I’ve had a couple derails this week, in /fitness and /distraction, overall I haven’t been as productive as I have been and I’m feeling rather disappointed in myself. But at the same time, it’s supposed to be winter break, right?

In truth I’ve set an arbitrary amount of standards and strictness when it comes to my daily work. A part of it is that it’s a little time consuming to go through each Beeminder one-by-one to schedule breaks, and having to remind myself a week ahead to do so as well. Though this is mostly my fault for edge-skating (see previous entry).

Over the years, I’ve been trying to “unlearn” (a silly word, huh?) my bias for perfectionism. I remember even in grade school that I’d not hand assignments in because I figured they’d just get a failing mark anyways. Or if they were late, I’d not even try to do them because there’s no point.

Of course in retrospect I realize how absurd this is: teachers just want to help you learn! Ultimately, doing nothing is always infinitely worse than doing something badly, or even very badly. I am trying to fight against this, like giving wiggle room to deadlines (a few days difference doesn’t count as a derailment in my book).

More than anything, I really need to just shut up and eat my own dogfood. Even with everything I have set in place, I’ve found myself getting aimlessly distracted and losing sight of the bigger picture, and that’s something I need to continue to work on.

Anyways, like I said, it’s Christmas in two days, so I’m not gonna fret about it all too much. The tricky thing is trying to set everything up for the new year (planners, resolutions, etc.) and there’s only six days between Christmas and the new year to do all that!

A totally random aside: In entry #6 I predicted (as a total layman) that vaccines would be deployed in September of next year. I can’t believe I was wrong by such a large amount! If anything, this gives my modest idealistic soul hope that we can tackle seemingly impossible problems in the new year to come. :heart:

Week Forty-four! Happy New Year! Alright, one last update before the year ends. I’ve been at this experiment for around ten months now, and though I’m eager to give a complete summary of how things have gone in February, most people enjoy taking time to reflect at the end of the year, so I’ll do a little bit of that now, too.

In spite of everything else, Beeminder has made this year the most productive year I’ve ever had. Investing my time and really dedicating myself to this has paid off in tenfold. I really can’t put into words how grateful I am for the team and the community surrounding it.

Of course, it’s not all perfect! I still feel like I could have accomplished a lot more, put higher rates on certain goals, not flub or derail as much as I have, etc. But all in all, I’m in an upward trend in general, and I’m really happy about that.

For fun, I’ve decided to list out some goals I have for the new year, some are attached to already existing Beeminder systems, and some are not–some I have no idea how to make a Beeminder for!

Goals for 2021:


  • /productivity: Spend five hours a day on my new business.
  • /distraction: Spend all my of leisure time on analogue activities.
  • /github: Create a new open source project that will benefit people.
  • /blogging and /writing: Start writing and publishing more, aiming for two posts per week.
  • Start writing by hand in my bullet journal once a day.
  • Start tracking my budget better, buy as little as possible, practice frugality.


  • /learning: Earn 5 new certificates to help me with my career.
    • /courses: Complete 20 educational course in the year.
  • /books: Listen to 20 audiobooks in the year. Take notes on them.
  • /french and /clozemaster: Consume more French media, read and write in it more frequently, aim for fluency.
  • Reach an ELO rating of 1700 in chess, read more theory.


  • /photos: Dedicate time to having a street photography session once a week.
    • Start a new photography portfolio.
  • /poetry: Read and write more poetry, and publish a chapbook.
  • Learn new songs and fingerpicking on guitar, try my hand at songwriting again.


  • /foodlog: Continue on my diet, practice veganism and sobriety.
  • /fitness: Continue going on daily walks to reach 10k steps.
  • /weight: Lose 40 lbs. and reach my goal weight of 140 lbs.
    • /weight-check: Continue logging my weight daily to gain the most insight on the data.
  • /sleep: Start waking up and going to bed earlier.
  • /meditation and /prayer: Take meditation and prayer more seriously, study them.
    • /gratitude: Contemplate what I’m grateful for more deeply each day.


  • /journalbar: Write an eBook about this experiment using Beeminder.
  • /derail: Aim for zero non-legit derails this year.
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Week Forty-five! This has been a totally lackluster week for me, probably the laziest I’ve been since I’ve started this–but I don’t see that as a bad thing. I’ve noticed for awhile now that I’ve been having this tug-of-war on a daily basis between between my akrasia and my daily routine.

Of course, that isn’t anything new, but over time I’ve sort of subconsciously entrenched myself into this structure where I try to be productive in the morning and afternoon, but don’t find it’s necessary because I can finish my work at night, where I’m actually productive.

And this inertia that I’ve been trying to fight uphill has made me form a narrative for myself surrounding it. Particularly because right now, I don’t really have anybody except myself dictating how I operate or why.

This luxury of freedom also means I’m solely responsible for my own morale, and that’s sort of depleted after becoming so often disappointed in myself each day for procrastinating in spite of myself. If that makes any sense.

All of this to say that I think it’s a good thing that I’ve just let myself take a step back and not worry about all of that for a couple of days. Tangentially related, I’ve begun a “Memory Log” as a centralized document to keep note of the most important things for myself that I haven’t entrenched into a habit yet.

In spite of all the work I’ve been trying to put in, it’s still very easy for me to become extremely forgetful, dip from Maslow’s hierarchy peak of self-actualization, and mindlessly get involved in whatever unproductive or unhelpful behavior or task. Such is life with executive dysfunction.

Also tangentially related, I’ve been contemplating the cargo cult of productivity and premature optimization. I’m finding the tools I’m using to work, but without a useful coherency.

Eg. In order to track my word count via Beeminder, I have to do all my writing in Draft or Google Docs first, and then migrate or synthesize it elsewhere for it to be useful in a knowledge base/repository. That isn’t to say that I don’t really love the minimal, distraction free writing process Draft provides, rather it’s just a workflow that I haven’t been able to stick yet.

On the complete flip side, I also wanted to share this graph from Mark Suster’s
article: How I Lost 65 Pounds In 18 Months Without Any Fad Diets or Gimmicks.

Mark really demonstrates how to actually use a wide variety of different methods and apps to obtain success. I don’t think I’ve seen a better example on how to use the Swiss Cheese Model to modify your own behavior!


I thought I had replied to this but I guess not?

I wanted to ask you about this - I’m really curious why you wouldn’t call nonlegit even if you were totally incapacitated! That’s the kind of thing calling nonlegit is for - and it’s support’s job to deal with it, and they are happy to help so it’s not a nightmare to click a few buttons.

I’m the same way - something has to be in the red for me to do it! I don’t think edge-skating is bad though. Danny has said that Beeminder shouldn’t rely on buffer - it’s for akratic people, and if we could build up a buffer we wouldn’t need Beeminder!

So I disagree that edge-skating is bad - I think a more sensible solution is to be able to call non-legit if something happens to incapacitate you!


Hey Zed! I definitely agree with your mindset, and I think it’s sensible, but only for sensible people–which I am not.

The real definition of “incapacitated” can be a slippery slope for somebody with a weasel-like mindset (me), and so it can be difficult to judge when exactly a non-legit derail occurs. Back in 2018 when I previously tried to commit to Beeminder full-time, I called non-legit a bunch, which you can see in my /french graph.

I didn’t even realize this was a big deal until the No Excuses discussion started, but obviously I should’ve since it’s pretty obvious. I feel pretty bad about it in retrospect. So, I suppose this is just personal preference.

Also in entry #39, I talked about the /derail meta-system, which will derail legit whenever another system derails non-legit, which also helps.

My argument against this is primarily logistics-driven. Even if you’re totally okay with non-legit derails, there’s still a dozen e-mails I have to respond to if I miss an entire day, and a dozen graphs that need to be fixed, etc. Which is a pain for both myself and support that can easily be avoided.

Also, the idea to be able to change colours (so that things are red with a couple days buffer, etc.) is in the All Of Our Ideas feature requests, which might help!

I also have to add the disclaimer that I’m still totally edge-skating and this is an ambitious and idealistic idea for myself at this point. In fact, I just derailed an hour ago! My productivity is an empty tank right now. :rofl:


Wait, be sure to read the “EDIT” I added toward the top of “No-Excuses Mode”! :heart:

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Week Forty-six! A little late this week, but most of what I wanted to talk about was covered by answer @ZedMango’s questions. I also had to reinstall my operating system (again) because both my sound and WiFi drivers suddenly and mysteriously vanished last week. The good news is that the problems I had with my NVIDIA card seemed to have been resolved with this updated version of Xubuntu, so minor victories.

Truth be told, I’m still feeling stuck in a rut. I’m still performing all the Beeminders I currently have, but as I’ve said before, that’s the bare minimum. Although I’d much rather be updating with a personal failure than not update at all. It’s honestly shocking how material is scoured across the Internets that has been unceremoniously shelved indefinitely with no updates!

One of the reasons I’ve been “lazy” is because I started playing Dwarf Fortress again, which is an absolute time sink, but luckily you run out of things to do after playing it for a week or two straight.

Now I’m planning to work on a forth Jekyll theme starting tomorrow, to replace the one that I’m currently using that I built from scratch nearly a year ago now. In retrospect, man it is ugly.

Also related, I’m sad to say that my ownership of Journal.Bar/ is going to be expiring soon, and even though the purchase cost was only a few dollars, the renewal is $65 CAD! That’s how they getcha. I’m not sure what URL to go with next, since it’s not really worth that much to me.

Oh, no worries. I totally get that the particular user persona that weasels barfing cats is probably far more weasel-minded than I am. (Though I have to take your word on that, since I’ve yet to meet such a person)

But I do think that “No Excuses” is just a good rule to have for all Beeminder goals in general, and maybe it’d be a more constructive goal for 2021 to enable that for all my Beeminders, instead of trying to entirely prevent non-legit derails.

People who require Beeminder to do work are often the kind of people that would try to avoid doing work altogether, so I’m not really surprised to see this be such an issue.

It’s funny, I think about how people that do their work don’t really need Beeminder, and people who don’t wouldn’t bother trying to use it. And yet there’s a large number of people (myself included) that do use it! I believe this is because humans are contradictory by their inherent nature, thank goodness. :wink:

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Week Forty-seven! I’d said I’m doing better this week, productivity-wise. I’m upgrading to a new workstation tomorrow, so that’s pretty exciting.

In regards to Beeminder, I’ve been trying out small approaches to small new habits. For the past while, I’ve been using /morning-pages2 as a way to get into the habit of opening a Google Doc and just write gibberish!

The idea I’ve had is to get up in the morning and doing the act of morning pages, but my Monkeyweasel mind still doesn’t wanna, so I’m taking the approach of getting the simple mechanical act of the habit ingrained, and then doing the writing part.

It’s pretty funny, since I have so many other habits that I can do with relative ease, I’m not sure if it’s just something particular about this, or if I’ve reached a sort of willpower limit, if you will.

On a similar note, I’ve had this bottle of multi-vitamins that I seldom take more than once a week, even though I ought to take it daily. I find micro-managing this sort of thing with Beeminder unhelpful, since it’d just be a manual entry goal that I could easily weasel.

However, I bought an additional cod-oil vitamin D supplement (due to the lack of sun in Canadian winter), and I’ve started taking both daily. It might sound silly, but I think this is because the vitamin D tablet is much smaller, and thus less intimating to try to take!

Also, since being cognizant of derails, I’ve been doing them a lot. :sweat_smile: Unlike previously, I haven’t ratchet’d my mercy-week of buffer following it, which takes a bit of pressure off, but also results in an ugly plateau in the graphs. Of course, as any seasoned Beeminder user will tell you, the aesthetics of the graphs are the biggest selling point.

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They are so pretty!

As far as multivitamins go, if you find them intimidating, you might want to look for some gummy vitamins! There are some that are just like candy hehe. :candy:

I also find journaling so much easier with pen and paper! I like the gibberish idea :slight_smile:

I call these insta-goals - goals that you can do right away in less than a minute. They’re my favorite - the limited time makes it less intimidating somehow.


/Courses : Tracking the courses I take through online learning platforms manually. Will also track assignments when I start my program.”

How are you tracking all the courses?

Wouldn’t it be better if you track each course itself?

For ex., track when you start a course and its completion, how many times you went through it, how long it took you to complete, etc.?

I have some courses I started and didn’t finish so I’m trying to figure out how to use Beeminder to complete the course and apply what I will be learning from the course.

Maybe tracking how to use Beeminder to complete a course and tracking what I’m applying from learning from the course is a nebulous goal How to beemind nebulous projects like doing your taxes or fixing a neurosis - #9 by lanthala ?


Oh man, you could TOTALLY beemind your notes using that technique! Just take the notes in a google doc, set a slope that would result in the speed of class-taking you desire, and go! If the assignments are such that they can be done in plain text, you could include those in the doc as well, otherwise just rely on the fact that you (should) have to do the assignment before watching the next class. I have a coursera class that I want to take soon, and I might try that myself (my other thought was to beemind anki cards added from the class).

Also, re: beeminding little things like pills, I’m 100% with @zedmango here (as usual :P); the majority of my beeminded goals are tiny manual-goal reminders like toothbrushing in the morning, taking my pills, taking melatonin, turning the compost, journaling, etc. None of them take long at all, but somehow without a prod I just won’t do them, so beeminder gives me that prod. But I don’t particularly have issues with weaseling (most of my goals are manual or would be trivially fudged if I wanted to) so that probably influences things.


@lanthala so the speed of note-taking would be intensity measured in minutes?

I was actually going to go slow in note-taking as I rarely made notes in the past, kept them in my head and quiz myself.

I’ve been trying to apply this book How To Take Smart Notes by Sonke Ahrens in RoamResearch. I just took this course today called Algorithms of Thought by codexfutura. He advocates Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren’s How To Read A Book and basically applies that book’s principles & rules to today’s books and papers in the RoamResearch app.

I wish there is going to be a Roam integration with Beeminder because I currently beeminding a nebulous goal in Roam.

Regarding with what @zedmango, I should be beeminding my pills: less sleeping pills & consistently take melatonin.

Thanks @lanthala

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