Calendial Commenting Copycat

As explained on Discord, I recently felt like most of my beeminder goals have become disasters and scheduled them to archive.

I decided that to try to prevent this from happening in the future I should do as Ceph does and reflect on my goals as I calendial. So anyway, I will start off with post-mortems of a couple of my goals that were failures, and then move on to the goals I have decided to keep / start today.

Examples of failed goals

gtd-nextactions I want to use the GTD system. Thus, I thought I could form the habit of doing so by making a goal to complete a certain number of items from my “next actions” list per day. However in practice this was a complete disaster—instead of forming the habit of using the system correctly, I would just add items to my next-actions list immediately before doing them so that they counted, often frantically making up items before bed that could be completely quickly enough.

sleep: I had a goal to go to bed by a certain time. Details aside, it was just too easy to weasel—I wasn’t clear enough what counted.

In general, I fell into a bad pattern where I would often forget about beeminder until midnight and thereby derail on a bunch of goals—or if I did remember, just do a shoddy job of the things that were in the red so I could check off the goal. In general I think having too many manual-entry goals contributed to going numb to beeminder.

I probably need to form a habit of looking at my goals at a specific time. But for now I will focus on making autodata goals in the short term.

The goals I am keeping / making

Calendial This one works fine, although as is clear I think I need to make these posts to actually end up reflecting on the goals instead of just doing the basic function of asking if the slope needs to be updated.

weightloss: This goal generally works. It’s an autodata goal and although I don’t always make the betst eating choices even in its presence, you can’t fool the scale–it’s not really possible to stay under the line for long without actually losing weight for real.

Nonfiction: This is an aggregate goal which adds up the page counts from all of my nonfiction book-reading goals to make sure I don’t fail to start a new book eventually after finishing the previous one. These goals work perfectly fine—they are completely unambiguous so they are essentially weasel-proof, and they get directly at the desired behaviour, unlike the aforementioned GTD goal. I was a bit too ahead on this so I’m going to ratched it to 7 days every time I calendial. I do actually already have the next book picked out (and checked out from the library), but I need a bit of a kick to set up the beeminder goal for it.

A new sleep goal: I haven’t actually made it yet so I don’t know what it’s called. I will use sleep as android, with this script (or a modification of it) so I can’t weasel / it’s easier to enter data.

work-hours: Another new goal. In the long run probably my only productivity goal should be something that enforces using GTD well. But since I don’t know how to do that yet, and I am actually already in the habit of using toggl quite well at least for the time I work, this seems like something to play with for now.

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Ok, dialing for the week.

New goals

speciation: Read “Speciation” by Coyne & Orr. Last week I ratcheted my master nonfiction goal to force me to start a new book goal within a week. Today was the eep day for that; I had in fact already started reading this book but this forced me to make the beeminder goal.

main-inbox-zero: An inbox zero on my personal email account. Not sure yet what I will do about my work email, since I can only link beeminder to one gmail account.

Dialing
I am increasing the slope a bit on the work-hours goal I made last week, although as it happens this week I decided to try using taskratchet so this goal may be slightly redundant—if I put enough work tasks in taskratchet, I may not really need another mechanism to force me to work enough.

Untouched goals
sleep-redux: So far 8 hours / night seems about right. Note that I am using a stock sleep-as-Android goal right now; in a week or two I’ll see how it’s going and maybe consider using a custom bedtime or wake-up-time goal using the script I mentioned last week, instead.

weight: For a while this one was too easy and I ratcheted it but I’m glad I didn’t change the slope. The current slope (0.4 lbs/week) has proven to be pretty good—enough to motivate me but not enough to be stressful. I occassionally go in the red but never two days in a row.

nonfiction: Forced me to make a new goal, but I’m not touching this goal itself.

dial: Once a week is still good.

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Could you please update your link to your sleep as Android script? For me, it’s showing like this (spaces added around the colon to prevent the forum from turning it into a URL):

https : //21672aa0fdbb529641df36b6750bdb85/

Could you please update your link to your sleep as Android script?

Weird, not sure how I managed to do that. Fixed.

That being said, I ended up using a default sleep-as-Android goal for now instead of using the script to do something custom. I edited yesterdays post to say as much.

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Alright, some notes on calendialing again.

This week I don’t think I’m going to change the slope of any goals. But I have some notes on a few of them

New Goals

I unarchived my goal gym to, uh, go to the gym. This one has been archived for something like 4 years. I haven’t gone yet, so I’m not going to consider dialing it up yet. But I should probably go tonight so I don’t end up having a weekday eep day, if I can avoid it.

I made three goals to play video games I have been intending to play, for at least 1 hour/week. This serves two purposes: (1) a beemind-what-you-buy kinda thing, and (2) trying to build the habbit of using toggl dilligently for things other than just work.

Notes on existing goals

weight: I need to think about what I’m going to do when I travel for 4-6 weeks later this summer. I was thinking I might just bring my withings scale in a checked bag…

work-hours. As I expected this goal seems to be puting slightly less pressure on my than taskratchet is, but it’s close enough that I’m not going to consider getting rid of it any time soon.

nonfiction: The pace of this goal is a bit more aggressive than I want to set for reading a textbook, so I think I’ll start reading another nonfiction book alongside Speciation.

Problems looking for goals
I have been a bit of a spendthrift and have tried to resume using YNAB to get things under control. The important habit I need to form is to actually check my budget before buying things. Not sure if there’s a good way to make a goal to help with this.

I currently have no goals relating to learning japanese, nor to practicing musical instruments / composing. I have accordingly not been doing these things. Recently I have felt a new wellspring of motivation on both fronts so I think the time may be ripe to consider new goals. Well, uh, maybe after I start to make an actual habit from the gym goal…

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New Goals

against-democracy: I started another nonfiction book goal because, as mentioned last week, I think the pace of my nonfiction goal is too fast to meet it just with the amount I want to read Speciation. I’m enjoying this one so far!

Derailments

I derailed on my inbox zero goal. It made no sense at all; I just procrastinated on it and then only remembered it like 3 minutes before midnight.

Dialing

weight: I changed the slope to zero sometime in late July—by that point, I’ll have lost all the fat I gained in the pandemic and I’ll be more concerned with trying to get stronger.

gym: I am dialing this up to 3/week.

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Derailments

I haven’t done it yet, but I’m going to derail on work-hours this weeend. I can live with it. I’m not going to adjust the slope, though, next week I think I can do better.

New goals
I made a protein goal. There was a lot of initial buffer so I haven’t been super careful about recording things yet, but I’m getting into it.

Various comments

sleep-redux: I am keeping up with 8 hours/night!
weight: The slope is good. I am not sure if I have remembered to mention that I used the road editor to set the slope to zero some time in June or July, at which point I’ll have lost all the weight I gained in the pandemic. At that point, I’m going to switch my main focus to trying to get in better shape, and I might even consider a very slight positive slope, although I’m not exactly planning on bulking.

Dialing

main-inbox-zero: Let’s crank up the slope a bit, it’s taking so long…

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Derailments

I derailed on the work-hours goal again. But I’m still not getting enough work done so I’m going to be stubborn on this.

Dialing

Since I evidently don’t have enough time and energy in the day, I’m going to archive the goal to read speciation. It’s a textbook, it’s dense. I just don’t have room in my life right now.

Along the same lines I’m going to reduce the slope on my running goal a bit. As it is I had envisioned basically either going to the gym or going for a run most days, but in general I am kind of feeling stretched a bit too thin now, and something’s gotta give. Oh, wait—since I forgot to post last week (I accidentally added two datapoints to my calendial goal last time), I hadn’t even mentioned that I made a running goal…

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Dialing

In a week I’m going to start travelling for a while. This will necessitate putting some goals on break.

gym is clearly out. Well, it’s not necessarily obvious—I could look for gym facilities while travelling, but I don’t want to take on that overhead right now. I may decide to make a temperorary goal for bodyweight exercise or something, we’ll see. Also I may increase the slope on the running goal (so ironically, the slope decrease may only live for a week or two).

weight is a tougher call. In principle, I could bring my withings with me while traveling. It’s not really ideal, but I could. What I decided to do is put off the decision about whether or not to do so until I pack, and for now not archive the goal. I have enough buffer that I should be able to survive not pressing archive until the day I leave.

work-hours is DEFINITELY going on break, since the first part of my travel is also a break from work.

Incidentally, this week I archived my sleep goal. It was basically not accomplishing anything—because I don’t work fixed hours, the requirement to get enough sleep didn’t actually force me to go to bed on time. Also I don’t like that using Sleep as Android requires me to open up my phone first thing in the morning. Not sure if I will look for a replacement or not.

I think the rest of my goals are fine.

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Derailments

I derailed on a couple goals due to the chaos of my last few days before travel. Next time I should plan that a bit more carefully.

New goals
I made a calories goal. I already have a do-more protein goal, so I just made (fake, near-zero slope) “do more” goals for carbs and fat and a do-less goal alcohol, and wrote a little script to aggregate them into the calories goal.

Since I’m travelling right now I already had a bit of a hassle trying to estimate the macros of things I ate…but in the long run I think I can be accurate enough since I don’t tend to eat out much. I’ll write up a longer-form post at some point, but I think I’ve basically converged on approximate calorie tracking as my preferred form of dieting, so I think this should be good.

Dialing
I decided not to pack my Withings scale, so I put a break in the weight goal. But i think, especially with the calorie goal, I will still manage to be a bit mindful of what I eat. I wouldn’t want to archive this completely, but a break should be fine.

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I’m going to resume this. Now on Friday instead of Saturday because I want to go for “yellow is the new red”. Well, maybe I’ll insert a day break today so I can still be doing the calendialing on Saturday in the future…

Adjustments:

I don’t think there are any holidays or any other weird scheduling things on my part in the next two weeks. I do have a conference coming up around the beginning of october so probably the next time I calendial I should be thinking about whether or not any breaks are needed.

Calendial: Inserting one day of break.

main-inbox-zero: A while ago I screwed this goal up and as part of fixing it support made the slope really tiny. Well, I never got around to making the slope bigger. I’m doing that right now.

It’s always been annoying that this can only be one gmail inbox. For better or worse, a new problem is developing—my new employer uses outlook instead of gmail! Well, I’ll worry about it once this inbox is actually at zero.

New goals:

origin: Read “on the origin of species”. This is for a book club, so strictly speaking I probably don’t need the goal to remind me to read it, however this will also ensure it is counted toward my nonfiction goal.

writing: I have many manuscripts I need to finish writing and I needed a little kick. I didn’t like the idea of total wordcount because it doesn’t really keep track of editing, so what I did is write a script that counts cumulative word additions and removals over the git commit history, for the four papers I am in various stages of writing. I worry a bit that this may end up beging an overcount of the number of words changed (I am not 100% sure what git word-diff will do if e.g. a section is moved) but in spite of the QS first principle I don’t actually care too much about the actual number—my plan is to just always ratchet the goal if I have more than 2 or 3 days of buffer.

Other concerns:

calories: I’m still not doing a perfect job entering everything! This kind of defeats the use of having a calories goal. Need to work harder to capture the remaining things that tend to get missed. (e.g. there are cookies in the office. What is the estimate I should use for a cookie? I am not even sure…)

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So, as mentioned, there is a conference coming up in like two weeks. I think I’m just going to preemptively put a break in my writing goal for that week. There’s no need to put a break in work-hours since I count attending the conference as working; in general I don’t think any other goals need breaks.

calories: I feel like with the current slope I still eat more than I should and get under the line, so I think that means the slope needs to be smaller. Well, it’s hard to tell exactly—I also need to ratchet because until a week or two ago I was definitely still undercounting what I ate, and the buffer makes it tricky to tell if I’m averaging below the slope or not since I don’t remember how much buffer I started with. So I guess I’ll ratchet the buffer to 4000 kcal and reduce the slope by 100 kcal/day.

origin: I actually do want reminders to read things at a reasonable pace for the book club so I’m increasing the slope (substantially).

alcohol: This is on a watchlist—I am strongly considering making a stricter slope since, well, I am fine with the amount I drink but I am a bit uncomfortable with how much of a habit it’s becoming.

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If I’m staying for a while somewhere that has a scale, I weigh-in on my first day and pretend that my weight stayed exactly the same during travel and any difference between home-scale and away-scale is because of error in the away-scale. Then during my stay I manually enter weights using that error offset. Wildly imperfect but if weighing-in is part of your healthy habits then it’s good enough.

edit: just noticed that I replied to something you posted months ago rather than being a timely comment on the eve of a trip… :man_facepalming:

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