Do not beemind outcomes, but don't beemind time input either: beeminding nudges

It is common knowledge among Beeminder aficionados that one should prefer to beemind inputs rather than outputs.

This seems logical. There’s no point in beeminding revenue since, in most case, it is either highly volatile or very stable.
(well, it does seem to work for @narthur, so take this with a grain of salt)

It’s better to beemind the amount of time worked instead of beeminding revenue

But what if I told you that there was a better solution to push oneself to work, other than beeminding work hours?

I found myself derailing my beegig and work goal.

Goal name Description Unit
beegig work on my day-job at a bee-themed company hours
work all work hours according to Toggl hours

I wanted to work 4 hours /day overall, and 2 hours/day on beegig.

The issue is that I get paralyzed because 2 hours seems a lot to me.
I say to myself: “woah, 2 hours is huge! I’ll do it later. Let’s watch some anime or scroll on Reddit”.
It’s like Beeminder is throwing a brick at me, and I know that I’m too weak anyway. (but it’s only an illusion - I could work more!)

Then, I anxiously scroll on Instagram/Reddit/YouTube, saying to myself: “woah, this dog is cute, and I just received another Telegram message :smiling_face_with_tear:
It’s 2am, the Beeminder deadline is approaching and I feel terrible because of both beeminder, myself, and natural consequences of not working.

Also, working on beegig looks terribly boring right now because of the current theme of the work.
However, this is only an impression; once I get going, I actually have fun.
It’s like cleaning a house. It seems daunting at first, but once you’re in the flow, sometimes, it can be pleasant to move around and improve things.
And after, I’m relieved to have done it and can enjoy my day better.

Actually sitting down, picking a task and starting a timer. This is the hard moment.
If I don’t get menaced by beeminder, I don’t want to work.
If I get menaced with a 4 hours block of work, I’ll tell myself it’s over already.

So, here’s my solution: create a manual goal that tells me to sit down with the intent to work for 10 minutes.

New goals

name description amount
session_beegig sit down and work at least 10 minutes on beegig 1/day
session_tagrecords sit down and work at least 10 minutes on tagrecords 1/day

What do you think?

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Excellent idea, thanks for sharing! As someone who has derailed many times on similar gig-related time-tracking goals, I’m going to create some nudge goals today to support little-and-often work on my most important projects.

Folks who beemind going to the gym often do something similar: they just need to physically get there, rather than tracking the time they spend working out.

Somewhere on here there’s also been a discussion of microhabits, which seems related.

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I’m glad that I’m not the only one facing this problem.
I’ll look into microhabits, thanks!

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@clouedoc I think it is a great idea. It reminds me of the book MIni Habits by Stephen Guise:

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It looks interesting, I especially liked this review:

I decided to build the Mini Habit of exercising for 5 minutes per day. My Mini Habit would, at least initially, consist of running in place in our backyard if the weather was good, or in our laundry room if it wasn’t. It felt absurd, like it would accomplish nothing, but it was an exercise commitment that flew under the radar of every excuse that my brain could come up with. My brain simply said, “Sure, whatever, Carl Lewis. Have fun with your ‘exercise’. Maybe you’ll qualify for the New York City Marathon over in the laundry room.”

Maybe I should build a “mini habit” of “programming on project X for 5 minutes” every day?

Some highlights from the book

To summarize, a mini habit is a VERY small positive behavior that you force yourself to do every day.

sounds of bees in the distance

The only way to create habits is to teach the rest of your brain to like what the prefrontal cortex wants.

This hits home for me. It’s like some part of me really wants to do the work, the conscious part, but the rest of my brains doesn’t.

We’re quick to blame ourselves for lack of progress, but slow to blame our strategies.

Hits right in the knees too. I was blaming a lack of willpower (even with Beeminder), but I should’ve blamed my terrible strategies.

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My mini goals didn’t work because there was still too much expectations on my end.

I didn’t want to input the data, answer a few messages from clients in 30 seconds and go back to my usual life; so I got stuck into paralysis mode.

To fix this, I’ve removed my old manual goals and replaced them with automatic Toggl integrations. 5mn every day with auto-ratchet.

Only having to start the timer should do the trick? I literally only have to start the timer and work on something relevant for 5 minutes.
I doubt that I can make this easier.

Also, I’ve prefixed my goals with “mh” for “micro-habits” :slight_smile:

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I have found that autodata goals are significantly more motivating than ones where I enter data manually. Probably a personality quirk, but maybe you’re like me, and the Toggl integration will do the trick! Good luck.

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Only having to start the timer should do the trick? I literally only have to start the timer and work on something relevant for 5 minutes.
I doubt that I can make this easier.

Some people use a RescueTime integration, but that assumes there’s some way for RescueTime to “recognise” you’re working - a website you go onto, for example.

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That’s a good idea, thanks.
I’ll try to make a micro-habit for music-making


The micro-habits worked today, with 4 hours of work logged.
Pretty good!

I’m pondering about making the deadline sooner in the day to make me start earlier since it’s 1am, and I just stopped working.

Has someone experience with this?

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I’m pondering about making the deadline sooner in the day to make me start earlier since it’s 1am, and I just stopped working.

For many of the goals with automatic data sources, the deadline can’t be moved from midnight. This is to do with the way their APIs work - they just give us “on day 27, user did HH:MM of work”, so we don’t know exactly when it happened.

Also, for duration goals, the API might only tell us about a session when it ends - so if you start something at 10pm and finish at 1am, we may only get to hear about the 3 hours when it’s all done.

Not sure if RescueTime has either of these properties, but something to be careful about - try some experiments, I’d suggest!

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As of relatively recently, the Toggl integration, at least, now supports custom deadlines!

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This is definitely true for me. My #DoTheThing goal derailed on “finish the XYZ” but was sustained and projects advanced on “Sew one stitch.” I also am going to change my goal times so that I’m not up doing this stuff so late.

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