Caro's beeminder journal

Hi all!

Like many, this is maybe my third time attempting to really use beeminder. The first time, I fell prey to the same thing a lot of people seem to on their first go-round: too many goals, too little thought. I don’t remember what they were – this was maybe two years ago – but I quickly became overwhelmed. If I recall correctly, I gave it another stab a bit later while in the midst of a pretty vicious depressive episode and just didn’t find it motivating and so dropped it again.

I’ve now been using beeminder for nearly two months pretty regularly! I started with a ‘write more’ goal – I think I started with 300 words a day and recently upped it to 500. I’ve written just under 22,000 words since late December (with a few derails) by having beeminder hanging over my head :slight_smile:

A goal I tried that didn’t work out well was ‘no drinking’ with a pessimistic presumptive assumption. I kept forgetting to confirm that I hadn’t had any alcohol during the day and (woe betide me) not noticing, so that was a pretty expensive reinforcement that those types of goals don’t work for me. I’m much more motivated by the type of goal I can get ‘ahead’ of – so, do-more goals for the most part I think. (I wonder if I could beeminder ‘hours sober’…/mostly joking)

For right now, ‘writing’ is my main goal. I have three others running that don’t require much touching (? sounds weird) to maintain or meet; two are productive/unproductive RescueTime goals I implemented mostly to gather data/get an idea of what my RescueTime stats are like, rather than trying to alter my own behavior. The other passive-ish beeminder goal I have in place is a weight one which I’ll probably retire soon; I have a different app I like better for tracking that, and there’s of course a bunch of beeminder-y reasons to beemind something else weight loss related, etc. (I do intermittent fasting and so may at some point beemind fasting hours, though to be honest I don’t find IF very hard and beeminding it may introduce friction that isn’t that useful – something to think about.)

Like many, I’ll be trying to keep up a beeminder diary here. The major struggle I have right now is keeping up with coursework for an online masters program I’m in. The due dates are often in other time zones, and I am unfortunately not a very conscientious person despite much effort, so I lose track of things a lot and tend to fall behind. I’d like to start beeminding SOMETHING that will concretely help me with that, but I’m not sure what would help. One thing I thought of was ‘write out upcoming deadlines every day’, but I don’t know how feasible that will be, or if it will be the type of thing to motivate me… maybe ‘minutes spent organizing’ starting out with a goal of 10/day and ratcheting up as I adjust, I’m not sure. Any input or experience you’ve had with similar stuff is super welcome!


Update on new organization/deadlines tracking goal!

As midterms for my program loom on the horizon, I’m both impressed with myself and a bit annoyed for keeping up with my writing goal. I absolutely wouldn’t have kept up a streak this impressive without beeminder, and also I’m kicking myself for not being as “good” at studying as I am writing short fiction… of course, key to this is that I’m not making myself write a “good” 500 words a day (and that writing is easier for me than studying). In fact, when those 500 words seem especially like pulling teeth or I just can’t manage to get 500 words on an existing project, I’ve found that it’s a really valuable red flag – means something is off; that’s worth paying attention to.

Goals/deadline tracking goal I’m a few days into testing is a URLminder more words goal called agenda – currently set to 100 words/day (this may be overkill); as currently implemented I am jotting down at the end of the day what I’ve managed to get done and what I’m worried about in the short-term. Probably not the most ideal of agenda/planning implementations but it’s a start… Horrifyingly, having updated it two consecutive days already makes it one of the most successful deadline-tracking strategies I’ve ever tried! Will see over the course of the next week incl. actual midterms if it holds up or ends up a total drag.

Have queued weight goal up to archive; may replace in future with fasting hours, will see.


An update I meant to post a while ago and a new update–

March 6 2018:
Did derail from my agenda goal once – I was in the habit of filling it out in the evening, and I was scrambling to write 500 words before midnight. (My writing penalty is at $30; my agenda penalty is at $5.) Haven’t been updating the agenda post-derail; I think Complice integration might work better for me. Will sleep on it.

Writing goal has been working marvelously. I firmly wish I could write as quickly during the day as I now can in the twenty minutes before midnight.

(Sidenote – I mentioned to a friend that I was using Beeminder to force myself to write more often, and his first question was “What keeps you from lying?” I told him if I let myself lie it wouldn’t have any power over me, so I view derails partially as punishment for not executing the behavior but also as payment to keep Beeminder working for me. Sometimes I absolutely want to lie and say I’ve written 500 new words – it’s been a rough day, I wrote 500 words for work and surely that should count, etc. It often doesn’t feel worth $30! But Beeminder keeping its power over me is absolutely worth $30, and lying once will destroy it, hence: I pay up.)

March 19 2018:
Have set my agenda words goal to go down to 60 – I think I really don’t need 100 words to outline what’s on deck for the day/week most of the time, and having it so high is yielding an ugh field around something that’s actually been pretty useful when used appropriately. I was tempted to cut it entirely but will give it another two weeks or so to see if lowering the word count makes me feel better about it.

Have set up a gentle Complice goal; keeping up with that hasn’t been much trouble so far.

Writing goal continues to work well. I’m up to 36,000 new words logged courtesy Beeminder. Long-term I would like to ratchet up to writing more than 500 words/day on average, but for now – with work and school being what they are – I am churning out my 500 words between 11:30pm and midnight more often than not and am rarely ahead of where I need to be. (Then again I might be doing this because I know I can… Ratcheting wordcount up might actually help. As of right now my routine is generally to churn out my 500 and immediately go to bed; if I knew my daily goal was too high to do that, would I be writing earlier in the day? Hmm… Worth thinking about, but will leave at 500 for now.)

(The more I think about this, the more I think ratcheting up my word count might be appropriate. I am consistently hitting 500 new words at 11:59pm or 11:58pm, sometimes submitting with 18 seconds left! Which is behavior I regress to when coasting/when I know I can at least hit the minimum target with a minimum of effort. Goodness knows how many mediocre papers I turned in during undergrad with this same behavior… Regardless, I won’t be upping this until my agenda goal ratchets down; feeling a bit firmer about this already, though. +1 for writing a Beeminder journal being helpful in it’s own way, hah.)

Do feel a bit stagnant with Beeminder right now, though that’s not all bad – the fact I’ve been using it consistently for this long has me a bit in awe, to be honest! Very proud it’s starting to feel just like a thing I do rather than a stretch remembering to log entries/check my goals.

After my agenda goal ratchets down, I’m hoping to add something new… If one couldn’t infer based on my general lack of conscientiousness and struggle to stay up-to-date with things, I’m not a great flosser; either flossing or Anki cards will likely be the next thing I add.

+1 to Beeminder being useful when used right from an inveterate procrastinator with severe depression and executive dysfunction, though; when I stop to think about it, I could not be more pleased with the way I’ve used it & it’s helped me the past few months.


I can’t tell if you wish your 500 words were happening earlier in the day than midnight, but if that’s the case, you could consider setting the goal’s deadline to be earlier – it sounds like you could write at an incredible rate between 2:40pm and 3pm if you preferred :slight_smile:

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May 15 2018
Closing in on five months of consistent Beeminder use, marvel of marvels. Haven’t updated this thread in awhile but have tweaked my Beeminder setup quite a bit:

I’ve added new go to bed and flossing goals. The flossing goal is quite new but overdue, and the go-to-bed goal is one I’ve been toying with for a month-ish. Initially I had it set up for ‘be in bed by 1am’, but I found myself actually staying up til 1am some nights where I would’ve gone to bed earlier if I didn’t have the Beeminder goal set up (clearly suboptimal!) My intuition is that I do much better with Beeminder goals that feel like actual goals, and so I’ve reset the time cut-off for bedtime to midnight. (I really do need to get my sleep schedule sorted, if it wasn’t obvious.) Hopefully the flossing and go-to-bed goals reinforce each other.

Writing daily goal has been nudged up to 600 new words a day, and so far I’ve had no trouble keeping pace. This is partly because I’m back in the habit of taking my lunch break to write, and I can almost always get at least 400 words in during that time (if not more.) That said, I think writing more or less daily for about five months has helped on this too. It’s an entrenched habit, I’m writing faster on average, and I’m getting a better intuition about what ideas/scenes are going to pay off vs which ones I need to go back to the drawing board with.

The two things I’m mulling over Beeminding are clearing out some clutter and studying for a very memorization-heavy class I’m taking; will start toying with both of those soon.


July 02 2018
Writing goal still going strong; even when writing is frustrating, it is wildly gratifying to be able to sit and knock out 400 words in one half-hour sitting even if the writing feels intractably slow at the time. Mentally making the connection that how writing feels in the moment != how it’s actually going has been hugely helpful.

Quote I like: “Writing might sometimes be difficult, but it should never be unpleasant; if it is unpleasant-if you’re feeling frustrated, bored or stuck-that’s not an indication of any deficiency on your part, but simply the signal to move to another part of the project, or another project. While it’s okay to practice “writing past the wall,” i.e., sticking with a difficult section a bit longer than comfortable, don’t perfectionistically dig in your heels and become an antagonist to yourself and your process.” (source)

Failed on flossing a bunch but starting to get into the swing of things. Remarkable how often I just flat-out forget.

Food nearby where I work is extremely expensive, and I’ve recently slipped into the bad habit of buying things at CVS before work (armfuls of overpriced energy drinks, mostly.) It’s easy not to as long as I have a reason not to, so newest beeminder goal is don’t spend money. Right now it’s strictly bounded to approximately my workday; if I start weaseling around that, I’ll futz with it. Seems like a good fit for me: a binary yes-or-no case and pretty easy to implement.


July 23 2018

Feel like I’ve plateaued a bit the past few months – not just in terms of what I’m using Beeminder for, but more generally too. Per this advice:

I’m committing to updating this thread every Monday to review existing Beeminder goals and evaluate new ones.

I’m not feeling enough urgency around floss, as reflected by all the plateaus. After derailing I have a bad habit of just not updating Beeminder unless I’m in the red. Upgraded my Beeminder plan to automatically trim safety buffer with the goal of updating this every day.

Reading this thread tipped me off that I’m ignoring pretty much all of my reminder emails since I get them most for my writing goal, and I usually write at about 10pm. The reminders aspect is a part of using Beeminder that I’ve never thought about much, so I spent some time this morning adjusting reminders for all goals. Curious to see a week from now if adjusting those settings will help.

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I had a similar problem with some of my goals, but I have solved it with a solution that is very effective for me.

I add a secondary helper goal that just gets 1 added every day I enter data on the primary goal. I use IFTTT for this, so once it’s set up, its no extra work.

This means that I have 2 goals, like “read_on_the_bus” and “read_on_the_bus_entries”. I may only have 2 or 3 days a week required on my read_on_the_bus goal, but I require entering data 6 out of 7 days on read_on_the_bus_entries.

I love this solution because it splits up the “doing the goal” and “entering data for the goal” into two different pieces. I can use retroratchets, breaks, max safe days, and two different rates, all those magical tools I now have at my disposal, to solve the primary goal as well as making sure it’s accurately reported.


July 30 2018

Ramping up urgency on floss was the right move! Took about two days to adjust, but made a big difference.

Want to add some exercise-related goal next, but work/school is pretty intense this week so I’m giving myself until next Monday to come up with something.

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I have a similar goal, and what I do is to mark each day whether I was successful the previous day. With the red goal widget on my phone and the texts and emails reminding me to mark the previous day’s success, I am able to remember, at least so far!


Bit of a chaotic week; related goal implemented for the long term…

Who would have guessed – another chaotic week! Implementing a long-overdue goal to clean for 10 minutes a day. I probably already do this; intend to ramp up a bit after a week/few weeks as seems appropriate.

Holding steady for this week! If I’m feeling ‘hold steady’ again next week I’ll probably ratchet updates to this thread back to once every two weeks.

Holding steady for this week; nudging journal update to once every two weeks.

Last update before the ratchet-back into bimonthly! Got some stuff planned for two weeks from now, but for now proud of holding down the fort, so to speak.

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Keeping up with existing goals alright!

Adding a vague homework/study related goal set to an utterly trivial 10 minutes/week rate. Intent here to get better at capturing how much time I spend on work/study more than anything else.

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Longer update coming soon – trying to restructure my Beeminder goals to be more proactive, but still not sure what that’s going to look like.

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