Did weekly and monthly goals change?

I haven’t created a new goal in a little while, but I was trying to help my wife last night. Looks like now you can only create a daily goal. There is a little pop out that says if you want to do something that is less frequent than daily to put in a fraction. Like 4/7 if you want to do something 4 out of 7 days of the week.

I guess this makes sense but it seems less intuitive than how it was before. Anyone have any insight for the change? Am I missing something?

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I think this is probably because it’s quite common for new users to get very confused by the fact that they have to make progress on a weekly goal right away, rather than in seven days like they expect.


Yeah that makes sense. I think I had a little bit of confusion with that when I started too.

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Thanks so much for asking this; I should’ve posted to the forum by now! Let me start by repeating the daily beemail about it from Friday when we did this:

Continuous beeminding and the glorious future (also death to weekly rates)

I was pretty encouraged when looking at some old notes today. A thing that used to sound like preposterously speculative theoretical sky pie now feels pretty obvious and natural. We’re absolutely going to get there. Before I get to that, let me tell you about what Bee’s throwing together as I write this beemail…

Nicky’s been beeseeching us for a long time to address the onboarding nightmare that is people creating what they think of as weekly goals.

What’s the problem with weekly goals, you veterans blithely ask? It’s that despite being able to specify a commitment as “4 per week”, there is no such thing as a weekly goal the way users expect. Beeminder treats everything as fundamentally daily. Namely, “X per week” just means “X/7 per day”.

Our solution (what Bee may well deploy by the time you see this!) is that we’re killing the daily/weekly/monthly dropdown in goal creation. Only daily rates allowed! But don’t panic. Under the daily rate field is a button, “commit per week”. When pressed it pops up a popup:

Warning! Weekly goals in Beeminder are not what you may expect. In a sense, Beeminder only supports daily goals. For a weekly (or monthly) goal, you need to do two things:

  1. Convert it to a daily rate. If you want to do something 4 times per week, enter “4/7” per day. Beeminder speaks fractions.

  2. Choose at least a week of initial safety buffer. If you pick 4/7 as your daily rate but no buffer, Beeminder will expect you to do 0.571429 things tomorrow.

What do you think?

There are better ways to address this. Like letting you give a weekly rate and dynamically showing the daily rate that that equates to. As we were designing that we got excited about some kind of datepicker so we can be crystal clear about when your first beemergency day will be when you create a goal. But we decided this is a moneyfire that we have to put out today. So non-daily-rates-verboten it is.

More fundamentally, it would be amazing to actually support weekly goals the way users expect (even though they’re usually wrong to want that). I’m imagining the Glorious Future where Beeminder supports any deadline frequency you want, by making the bright red line a staircase. The status quo is that the red line conceptually has 24-hour flat spots every day, jumping up at your daily deadline. A true weekly goal would be the equivalent with week-long flat spots. I’m excited about the other extreme – a work goal where I have a beemergency every hour during the work day, 9am-5pm, and then flat the rest of the time. I’m also weird enough to like the idea of fully continuous goals. Like there’s no fixed deadline at all, you just get some amount above the red line and that defines exactly how long till you next collide with the line. If you want to be able to get a full night’s sleep, you better do enough work to buy yourself 8 hours of safety buffer. It’ll be great.

But the real point is that ideally it’s fully flexible and general, while ironically having fewer moving parts. Weekends-off would just be one more special case of the Bright Red Staircase approach.

Back to the Unglorious Present, the problem we’re scrambling to fix is our failure to convey to users – without sending them off to a help page like “How do I tell Beeminder what day my week starts?”, nice as that is – that when they say “per week” they’re not getting a one-deadline-per-week goal. A frightening fraction of people who pick “per week” when specifying the rate --which, anguished-wail, has been the default till now – Beeminder seems to them like it’s just broken, and they walk away in disgust.

But no longer! I spent so much time writing this that Bee has deployed the new hotness. Go to beeminder.com/new and check it out!

UPDATE: The part about the Bright Red Staircase is now a blog post!


Thank you for responding with an official response!

First off, there is a daily beemail? Where do I sign up?

Secondly, I think you’ve done right by rolling this out as soon as possible. I tried StickK before Beeminder and when I would say I would work out three times per week, what would usually happen is that I would wait until the last three days of the week to do three workouts. With Beeminder I’m much more likely to work out every other day as I intended.

I like the idea of a future date picker and everything else you described. But now that I know how it is working, creating a new weekly or monthly goal seems easy enough.

One question, if I am making a twice monthly goal, how much grace period would you suggest starting off with?


It’s buried in Account Settings, almost at the bottom. I guess daily beemails are only for people who want to go deep down the rabbit hole with us…

Ah, valuable comparison!

Short answer: Perhaps 14 days.

Long answer: The way to think about this (which I think our next revamp, whenever that happens, will make clearer and easier) is to just decide the date you want your first beemergency to be. Are you ready for Beeminder to force you to do your first twice-monthly thing tomorrow? Great, don’t touch the “start with extra safety buffer” checkbox. Otherwise, well, what date do you want the first thing due on? Find that date on the calendar, count the number of days from now till then, and that’s how many initial safe days to ask for when creating the goal.

In other words, it’s a fully arbitrary choice for you, the user, to make. You’re committing to average at least 2 things per month starting on whatever day you say!


Thanks! I kind of assumed that’s how the initial extra safety buffer worked. It’s good to have confirmation, though!

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@dreev - Nicky is right, and I’m glad that you keep considering it.

There’s a key principle in engineering and management: The system should reflect the practice, not shape it. Right now, BeeMinder forces us to re-express our hourly, daily, and monthly goals as if they were weekly goals.

This requirement may simplify the math (and the graphs), but it undermines some goals. For example, consider something as innocent as tooth-brushing. I must brush my teeth twice a day, not “14 times a week”. The goal won’t be satisfied if I brush 10 times on Monday and 4 times on Tuesday, neglecting my mouth for the rest of the week.

There are many goals like this: Exercise three times a week (but not three days in a row); review new language vocabulary twice a week; and call your mother regularly but evenly spaced.

Let Beeminder, which we all love, evolve to reflect to way we set our goals.

Did you mean to say daily? (Feel free to edit your post if so!)

PS: See also our new blog post – The Bright Red Staircase | Beeminder Blog – which is tangentially relevant to this discussion.

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I too would love to see the Glorious Continuous and Arbitrarily Discrete Future. Arbitrarily discrete, I can get with https://beescheduler.echonolan.net. I think I’ve wanted continuous in the past though I can’t remember why


Thanks for pointing to the new blog post, @dreev

Yes, I’d like to create goals that are monthly, or daily, or hourly. Beeminder should reflect the nature of goals. Goals shouldn’t be tweaked to fit Beeminder.

And I say that with all of the appreciation of a paid subscriber who convinced at least five friends and colleagues to use the service.

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Thanks for pointing me to Beescheduler, @katriel . This gets me closer to what I have been looking for. Now I can schedule to brush my teeth twice a day, everyday (not 14 times in one day or 7 times twice a week :slight_smile: )

One of us is confused here. Setting a rate like 2/day for teethbrushing is exactly what Beeminder currently supports. How would a third-party tool to set custom breaks be relevant here?

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If someone is confused, this is probably me.

My impression is that if I set a goal of “tooth brushing twice a day”, I could still get away with brushing 14 times on Sunday and letting my oral hygiene slip the rest of the week. Am I wrong?

Oh, yes, it’s the opposite! Good that we clarified! It would actually help us a ton if we could retrace where this confusion started. Like was it from stuff in this thread, elsewhere in the forum, or something in Beeminder’s UI?

So Beeminder in its current form really only supports day-based goals. It can’t enforce doing things hourly, for example, nor can it enforce doing things weekly, except by converting a weekly goal into a daily one and then doing the toothbrushing or whatever in bursts so as to always earn another week of safety buffer.

Wait, I just realized another possible source of the confusion here. It is in fact the case that if Beeminder is telling you that you have to brush your teeth twice today and you instead brush 14 times, you will in fact have bought yourself a week of safety buffer. The two answers to that are (1) just don’t do that, and (2) if you do do that, and don’t want that much safety buffer, ratchet it away with the ratchet interface under the graph.

I can’t tell if if I’m making it sound even more confusing at this point…

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Thanks for clarifying! The confusion must have began when I joined Beeminder, and wanted to set a goal of doing something thrice a week but not on consecutive days. It took me a while to realize that Beeminder uses a daily average, even if the relevant unit is number of times per week.

We must have had a similar discussion back then :slight_smile:

In any case, you have my full support for a version allowing the user to set not only a numerical goal but also the pace (e.g., twice a week, but no more than once per day, non-consecutive days).

How much effort will the change require from your side?

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@dreev, I just recalled that the main reason I have wanted intra-day derailments is for beeminding phone time. It would be amazing to get a red alert toast message when I unlock my phone telling me “LOCK IT IN 2 SECONDS OR YOU DERAIL”

Now I’m on iOS, though, so this is probably not possible even with intra-day derailments on the beeminder side :sob:

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Back on Android, you can do something kiiinda like this with RescueTime. I have RescueTime alerts at 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes… for various apps, and they pop up during the day, and they get funneled to Beeminder. The RescueTime alerts aren’t aware of my Beeminder safety buffer, but the live “hey, do you realize what you’re doing” is kinda nice. (I think you may need RescueTime’s premium plan to make this work.)


Is that really the ideal? Even speaking as a settings-tweaking geek who sort of wants all systems to have universality of some kind, I worry you’ve got too attached to this idea about serving a core geek audience well.

I suppose though you’ll hide some of the generality by default.

Yeah, I think it’ll be important to do this in a way that’s simultaneously more general but also simpler and more consistent, with fewer or more orthogonal settings. The default can be to just pick a daily deadline and not think about it. And you should probably still be able to just click “weekends off” and that’s like a macro for the underlying stairsteppifying that that entails.

I think there are a lot of ways we can have the best of both worlds, flattening the learning curve for newbees without sacrificing anything for the supernerds, who are still very much our target demographic.