Brennan's Beeminder Journal

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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Oh, I didn’t mean speed as in “notes per minute”, but like “classes per week” :smiley: If each class gives you, say, 1000 words of notes, then setting a slope of 2000 words a week would push you to take 2 classes a week.


(What sort of things would you like to Beemind using Roam? I’m collecting ideas.)


I would love a Roam integration too. One obvious candidate would be the number of results returned by a particular Roam query. Some other ideas: number of words (or number of edits) on a particular page; number of pages/blocks with a particular tag (i.e. number of linked references to a particular page).

I’d also love to figure out how to trigger some code from within Roam to submit data points to Beeminder. E.g. imagine if ticking off a TODO with a particular tag could automatically trigger submission of a data point.


Hi @adamwolf just for starters, # of words per page since I’m using roam to my diary/log for my nebulous goal.

I’m still a roam newbie so I’m trying to spend as much time on it and learn and apply its features. Maybe minutes/hours spent on it. # of features used (which would mean I’ll have to know and use each and every feature)? # of capstone projects made with it?

Number of bidirectional links and I don’t know… number of connections thought of – is that possible?

I don’t know how the app integrations work because I’ve only used Beeminder as a standalone product.

But I’m thinking of using Complice with Beeminder and see. And Beemind my use of Complice.

I’ll reply with some more ideas as I use Roam and the more I use Beeminder.

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Week Forty-eight! Quite a bit of discussion this week, how exciting! I suppose I’ll try my best to respond to it all.

I wrote about this in entry #41 a little bit, but my approach to this is twofold: Have one Beeminder that’s outcome-based, and one that’s system-based.

/courses: For the outcome, each course I’m tracking is one on, since their material is really high-quality and I get free access with my public library card! I also added each individual assignment I did back when I was in my coding bootcamp as a data point as well.

/learning: For the system, I’m measuring my time per day that I’m learning, with a custom category on RescueTime that’s specifically only tracking Lynda and my note-taking app. You could also say this is a subsystem of /productivity, since all the time here is also added to my overall time-tracking.

Speaking of notes, I don’t have a Beeminder directly associated with them since enjoy writing them! I have a slightly outdated directory of notes that I intend to transform into a digital garden of sorts. And then when I push these notes, it’ll be added to my /github system, and my word count will be added to /writing, which is a nice example of how I try to connect these systems on top of each other.

I hope some of that might help!

(Very related, I’ll once again advocate for Obsidian, which is a local and free alternative to Roam Research that I’m developing a Jekyll project on top of.)

I agree very much! Regretfully, like a lot of other “planner people”, I’ve found a lot less usage for my bullet journal for planning and writing since I’m stuck at home and just capture everything digitally. I also have dysgraphia which makes longform journal-writing rather painful, sadly.

I’m the total opposite! I try to avoid doing manual goal-setting as much as possible. I’m (thankfully) quite good at doing small tasks without needing Beeminder, so it’d take more work for me to add their data in Beeminder than just doing them, and in contrast to the combination of anxiety and laziness I face when dealing with large, meaningful projects. I’m also super weasel-minded, as you can tell :stuck_out_tongue:.

When I was younger and suuuuper into self-help, I’d try to schedule each block of time for a specific productive task and how the most optimized day possible. Of course, when the time came in reality, I’d end up sleeping in or spending the first two hours of my day doing something entirely off-script, which totally demoralized me for the rest of the day.

Now, I suppose I take an “intuitive” approach to getting work done–as long as it gets done before sometime during the day before midnight, then I don’t worry about precision.

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I love seeing how people use Beeminder for such completely different things. Same system, totally different reasons and methods. I’m the opposite to you: I tend to have fewer issues with the large things – they’re either important or interesting enough that I can get motivated and do it all at once. But the little things, like tooth brushing or journaling or turning the compost bin, those get pushed aside or forgotten because they’re boring and not immediately important, and I can’t get hyped and do it all at once while I’m motivated – “little and often” is my nemesis!

(But much like you, I never could get block scheduling to work either; still looking for someone who uses it effectively who can explain their trick…)

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Week Forty-nine! Missed a week! Or rather, I’ve already missed a Journal Bar entry, but I’m alright with that, since I’ve been sliding further and further from my weekly deadline of Monday to all the way to Friday!

By just waiting a few more days, I can essentially just “derail” for a week and re-calibrate myself. Speaking of, I’ve had a couple of derails since my last entry, in both /distraction and /writing.

Not much to update other than that, I’m afraid! It has been an entire year since I’ve began this Beejournal, starting on February 10th of last year, and I’ve been wanting to go through all the various things that I’ve accomplished with the all-mighty help and thanks to Beeminder, but it just feels kinda silly when I’m in such a slump right now?

There’s an extreme cold warning in effect where I’m at right now. It’s a balmy -33C° right now, and it’ll continue to be that for at least another week, so I haven’t been able to get out at all, really.

I try to remind myself of all the important things. Like how any amount of effort and progress, no matter how small, is infinitely better than nothing. Or that action begets action and inaction begets inaction. Or meditate on the ugly shrub principle, but the monkey-weasel of nihilistic hedonism beckons all the same.

Regardless, I’ll still keep this updated. I’ve been going over other Beejournals to see what formats and talking points I might be able to borrow, and it’s a wonder to see how many just abruptly end. I know I’ll eventually be able to shake the dust and get my shit together.

On the more logistical side of things, since renewing was too expensive, I’ve instead bought and I’m going to be transferring over! I’m sure that most people who read this only read the forum, so it’s not a big deal. It’s more just a hassle for me to update all of the links, hah.

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I’ve been trying to make it work this year (see my Zed Sched post) and my trick (borrowed from @mary) is I only have to do one minute in each block, and also I don’t have to do it if any of a few different reasons apply (sleep problem, important work obligation, important admin task, prescheduled event).


Week Fifty! Of course, late again. Although this time it was only partly my fault, as I had a minor medical emergency and a rather surprise moving out. I’ve been diligently keeping up with my Beeminders, though! Only one derailment, /photos. And also a non-legit derail on /distraction, sadly adding my first datapoint to /derail.

But overall, I’m feeling really good and I’m excited to start doing more good work. Journal.Kim/ is now online with a bit of a new look! If you’re curious, here’s a pic of how it looked around last year! It is really great to have a little blog that you can maintain independently, and it’s helped teach me a lot of things about going forth with bigger projects.

I also did the much-needed housekeeping of updating datapoints to everything! Usually, when I add data for /books or /courses, I just add the digit without adding the note of what specifically reading or learning. It’s kind of satisfying to go back and review each different thing all at once. I also added an auto-ratchet to /meditation to help keep me more consistent with it, since I’ve been getting good at doing it consistently.

It’s crazy to think that when I initially started this journal a year ago, I only had five goals. As of right now, I have twenty-six(!), though a handful are meta/supporting systems.

Overall, my systems/goals are relatively stable. I feel like my initial goal of trying to implement Beeminder systems that encompass all areas of life to ensure a balanced and content existence is a modest success so far.

I do have plans for a few changes and updates in the near future, like getting an Android tablet so I could use RescueTime to specifically track my reading time. (One caveat of the Apple mobile ecosystem is that RescueTime can’t track specific things.) As well as reflecting on my relationship with social media and trying to find ways to use it productively and use it to my advantage–easier said than done.