Beeminder Forum

Calendialing: scheduling breaks every week for what's coming up on your calendar

Adapting this from a daily beemail.

Do you have a @byorgey -style meta goal that, once a week, makes you look at your calendar for the week starting a week from now (so two weeks into the future) and set breaks – beeminder.com/breaks – on everything it makes sense to? I resisted making such a goal for ages and now it seems crazy not to have one. Unless you like the stress of juggling beemergencies and various events like doctor’s appointments or vacations. I often do like that stress but being prompted to consider how compatible your upcoming calendar is with your Beeminder goals is pretty valuable.

Also it can be a good prompt to think about which goals you actually still care about (thanks to @rperce for this insight). Sometimes I schedule a random long break in a goal if I’m not sure, just to see how it feels to not have to worry about it day to day.

I kind of think everyone should have a goal like this. So much so that if you disagree, I want to hear why! Also let’s give it a name. How about calendialing?

(It wouldn’t actually have to be a Beeminder goal either, if you have some other trigger prompting you to calendial at the same time every week. For some people a recurring calendar entry could suffice, come to think of it.)

STRAW POLL: How do you remember to calendial?

  • A Beeminder goal as Prof Yorgey preached it
  • A recurring calendar entry
  • A recurring to-do list item
  • I just remember to, with my brain
  • I don’t edge-skate enough for it to be an issue

0 voters

(It’s funny how susceptible to the typical-mind fallacy I am, as evidenced by how long it took for that last option to occur to me.)

When I conducted that poll by beemail (feel free to re-answer here, daily beemail people), I got some great responses. Turns out most people (who replied) already have such goals. Also I like @narthur’s name for this: “beetuning”. And check out this comment from Prof Yorgey himself, which perfectly illustrates the value of doing this:

Right now I am coming up to a megabreak for [exciting-sounding vacation], happily scheduled a week ago when my goal told me to. (“Wow, I didn’t realize we’re leaving for vacation so soon!”) Don’t even want to think about what would happen if I didn’t remember to do anything about it until, say, today – which would probably be typical, and means I would be scrambling to do several days’ worth of stuff on Friday and Saturday (which I do NOT enjoy).

Also @bee pointed out that she used to calendial for scheduling weekends off before the weekends-off feature existed. So, pro-tip for cheapskates who don’t want to pay for that premium feature I guess? (It’s fine, we don’t begrudge it!)

Also @gbear605 made a bookmarklet to make it easier to set dates all at once. Heart-eyes! And, yes, we intend to make this be unnecessary but, well, we’re slow / busy with getting dynamic graphs integrated. In the meantime, here it is:

Actually, it's scary-looking so let me put it discreetly behind this curtain

javascript:document.querySelectorAll('[name*=break_start].input-date').forEach((element) => element.value = '2021-06-20');document.querySelectorAll('[name*=break_end].input-date').forEach((element) => element.value = '2021-06-26')

Thanks, everyone!

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I have a Beeminder goal, but it’s not quite for this – it’s my weekly review goal. However, in practice it reminds me to calendial.

Unfortunately it can be a bit late, like this week: I’m getting my second Pfizer shot on Wednesday, an appointment I made on… Thursday, maybe? So now it’s Saturday, it’s time for my dialling, and it’s too late to put in breaks for Wednesday-Thursday-Friday.

(In case anyone’s wondering What Would The Support Czar Do, the answer is “play it by ear”. If I realise on Wednesday night that I’m feverish but mostly okay, I’ll take my chances and possibly call not legit if I derail. If I realise on Wednesday night that I’m wildly feverish and need to pass out for 48 hours, I’ll send support a quick note then and ask them to help. Yep, even the folks who run Beeminder have to go through the same channel for stuff like this… and support are not afraid to say no, even to me! Though they won’t, in this case.)

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Here’s a vote for @narthur’s suggestion, beetuning. “Calendialing” sounds like a generic term related to your calendar. But, it seems to me, what you’re describing is a set of activities related to Beeminder, which is specific to how beeminder interacts with your life, and is broader than just your calendar.

Beetuning is tuning your beeminder goals for various reasons, which may include such considerations like, “this goal’s slope should change”, or “this goal no longer makes sense”.

Then one can talk about a “weekly or monthly beetuning review”, that coincides with the typical weekly tasks and goals review. See Google Search: "weekly review" tasks

EDIT: As per that link and general wisdom, it makes sense that weekly reviews are valuable (including beetuning out to two weeks ahead). If one already has a weekly review as a habit, then great, just plug beetuning into that. If not, it would make sense to add it to one’s calendar, and possibly create a beeminder goal for “weekly review”, if necessary. I’m missing this myself, and will definitely be putting something together!

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I usually use the “I remember with my brain technique” combined with the “ah whatever I am just flying to Europe on that day, I can still do my goals boast,” which then results in the “humbly asking support for forgiveness motion.”

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Copying my response from email:

I don’t, and so I often derail in such situations, and I probably
should.

Just wondering: would it make sense to (somehow) make it a default for
every Beeminder user? Like, make it an (opt-out) option to receive
weekly email reminders about that?

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“A default 0$ goal for Beeminder users + sending emails about how founders approached setting up that goal (= a best practices guide disguised as a case study)” sounds like a good idea for user onboarding.

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I do this. Actually, I used to have a “weekends” goal to remind me to dial in my weekend every week, pre weekends-off implementation. (That’s what actually convinced me to just do the lazy/expedient thing of scheduling the coming weekend off every week when I did it, instead of trying to come up with some Elegant and Objectively Correct way to do it via changes to the road structure or something).

I also started a “calendar” goal sometime in the middle of the pandemic that’s just “look at your calendar every day”, because I had gotten so out of the habit of having things to do and places to be, that I sort of forgot how to have a calendar and use it in order to not miss meetings and other things where other people are relying on me.

And yet somehow, just today, I noticed for the second time this week an afternoon schedule conflict, and had to message the music teacher with a last minute cancellation. Somehow I need to change my “look at your calendar” criteria…

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Here’s something I set up to remind me to reconfigure goals using Google Calendar and Gmail’s filters and labels. I imagine you could do something similar with other calendar and email apps.

  1. I have sub-calendars in Google Calendar, such as “Queensland Holidays” (a subscribed calendar) and “work events” (which is where I put my work holiday dates and training courses, both of which might require goal adjustments).
  2. I set those sub-calendars to send email notifications 8 days in advance for each event. The subscribed holiday calendar is also set to send me an email when an event is added.
  3. In Gmail, I use filters that contain the names of the sub-calendars, e.g., from:(calendar-notification@google.com) subject:(Queensland Holidays)
  4. The filters apply a label called “CONSIDER_BEEMINDER_PAUSE”
  5. I have that label coloured with white text on bright red background so it’s really obvious when it appears in my inbox, and this reminds me to think about adding a break to my goals if the event requires it.

image

I’m actually in the process of stopping using Google Calendar because I’ve found it unreliable recently and using the Linux remind program instead, which is massively powerful and supports scripting. I used it years ago and never should have moved away from it. Once I get it a bit more set up, I’ll be experimenting with getting it to send me customised reminders of events that might need goal tweaks, and I’ll post here about it. If anyone’s already doing something like that using remind, I’d love to hear about it!

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