Beeminder Forum

Brushing teeth, every day is a beemergency?

I put down a goal of brushing teeth 7 times a week. Every day is a beemergency. Is this typical? What’s are some common alternative ways of managing this goal so I’m not always on the cusp of derailment?

First, what do you want to happen? If you miss a day, do you always want to derail? If not, how often do you want to be able to miss a day without it derailing you?


I’m ok with it just like it is for now, so miss a day, derail and pay $5. But psychologically I might eventually want to see myself riding up the middle of that line, not always on the cliff’s edge.

I think that psychologically, one wants to ride up the middle or even on the top of the… I don’t know what you call it yet… on top of the hill climb graph. [EDIT: it’s called the bright line or yellow brick road or cumulative success over time.] If you’re always being motivated because today is a beemergency, then it isn’t really a habit. The higher one can maintain the line above the beemergency day, the more that is proof of a self-sustaining habit. And the less stressful, mentally.

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Ooh, check out #2 (never-will-i-not goals) in this blog post:

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If you want to be further away, you can schedule a pause, which will give you some safety buffer. (You can also set initial safety buffer when you make the goal.)

Depending on what you’re trying to do, you may want to set the rate lower than 1/day, to an equivalent of 6.5 fimes a week, for example. This would let you build up a day of buffer every two weeks if you never miss.


Note, this is equivalent to what @adamwolf suggested, but I did not read that reply before typing.

Keep in mind that when you tell beeminder “7 per week” beeminder just goes ahead and does the math for you setting to 1 per day. Every rate is a daily rate!

What I like to do for these kind of goals is a Do-more with slope of 0.9 or 0.8. This might seem weird at first, but it means that you’ll do one brushing and beeminder will tell you (if you enable more display precision under settings) that you’ll have to brush your teeth 0.8 times tomorrow.

You can’t brush your times less than one whole time, so you’ll do it and add 1. Beeminder will then ask for 0.6, and so on until it will not ask you because over 5 days you did one more brushing that you had to!

This way you’ll gradually start to accumulate, slowly, some “buffer”. If the buffer gets too big because you follow the goal really well (I have one whole week of leeway? too much!), then you’ll be able to “ratchet” that buffer so that it becomes less. your graph will adjust by making your red line go higher.


If you can imagine brushing your teeth more than once a day, would that let you get ahead?

Or, as has been said, don’t make it 7 days a week. For instance, my flossing goal is currently configured to 5 times per week, with never missing more than one day at a time (max safe days = 1)

Contrarian time! All of the advice in this thread is excellent, so take this with a grain of salt.

The idea of having everyday be a beemergency is called edge-skating, and a lot of users do it, but it definitely has drawbacks–in that if you have multiple edge-skating goals and something major comes up, you suddenly have a bunch of derailments.

I might be called a power user or whatever, since I have around 12-15 beemergencies each day. And most of them are never-will-I-not goals. (rate of 7/week)

The blog post that @dreev wrote is geared mostly toward newbees (the idea of going from nothing-to-daily being overwhelming), but if you start small and build up to it, it no longer is stressful, you adapt to it.

The argument often thrown around is this: If you’re the kind of person that doesn’t need to edge-skate, and if you can maintain a line higher than a beemergency, then do you even need Beeminder at all? :thinking:


What I did was that I added one extra data point, and called it an initial set up buffer day. Is that ok? I’m new at this so I guess it’s just experimenting with the app.

I now always have two days to finish brushing my teeth. My personal goal will be brush my teeth everyday and keep my derailment two days in the future.

I think this might be a good plan for me, a beeminder newbie who almost never brushes his teeth. The best case scenario is that I brush my teeth once a day. The worst case successful non derailment scenario is that I brush my teeth twice every two days, which would still be a great improvement over my current behavior rate.

In practical terms, this means I might brush my teeth late one night, ten minutes after midnight, and then again the next day. Or if I miss a day, then once the next morning and once that next evening.

So in this way, I can use beeminder to set two levels of success rate. My personal success rate which is once every day, and my minimal non derailment success rate which is twice every two days.

I’m curious what others think of this.

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If you’re the kind of person that doesn’t need to edge-skate, and if you can maintain a line higher than a beemergency, then do you even need Beeminder at all?

Again, I’m a newbie so I might not be fully understanding your point, and I really do appreciate your input.

That said, I’m not sure why that would even be a philosophical question. To me, the answer to your question is trivially, yes. Having a future risk of financial penalty, gamification, pretty graphs, don’t break the chain, all of these are valuable without every day being a beemergency.

Also, see my reply to adamwolf in this thread.

Thanks again.

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I agree with you completely with the value aspect, the question is more do you need Beeminder, though.

To make it more clear: If I have a day of buffer (like the one you’ve set up) I’m going to end up just skipping a day, because I usually avoid doing work that I don’t have to do. Essentially, if it isn’t a Beemergency, then I can wait (read: procrastinate) until it is, ya’know?

I’m definitely striving towards creating and maintaining a buffer (and there’s a lot more to be said but I don’t wanna get into the weeds), but that’s just where I’m at currently. :stuck_out_tongue:


For posterity, the solution to my conundrum was very simple.

Putting in a goal of 7 days a week becomes “once per day” in beeminder. So I just needed to
brush my teeth twice in one day, and Beeminder gave me a derailment count down of two days.

Then as long as I continue to brush my teeth once per day, I’ll always be two days away from derailment (one day away from a beemergency).

If I miss a day, I’ll be back on the “razor edge of beemergency” every day until such time that I brush my teeth twice in one day again.


For my toothbrushing goal,I just set it to 6 brushes a week, so I can gradually accumulate buffer. I don’t really find it necessary though; plenty of my other goals I have set to 7 a week (pills, making a to-do list, etc) and it doesn’t bother me to have them due every day. That’s how I remember to do them, after all!


Thanks! What I’ve settled on is 7 times a week, and I’ll allow myself to brush some extra times to add in the buffer. I haven’t gotten ahead yet :hushed:, but that’s definitely a goal of mine to sustain a buffer!

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