Does the period frequency make any difference?

I’m curious as to the day/week/month/year option make any difference at all?

For example, does it make it difference if I commit 1 unit per day or 365 units per year? Does it make any difference in Beeminder?

Because at the moment, having four different time periods gives the user the impression somehow Beeminder averages out the commitments according to the time periods you put in. That is, 1 unit per day should only allow 1 unit per day, forcing the user to do everything in moderation and spread out the commitments. But that is not the same.

What is the point of putting four different time periods?

It seems to me that the time period option is there only for the convenience, it makes absolutely no difference in the scheduling in Beeminder.


1 unit per day vs 7 per week gives the same yellow brick road as far as I know. You can do as many units on a single day as you’d like, and as long as you haven’t set things up otherwise, Beeminder will then let you do nothing until you’re back to the line of “1 unit per day on average”.

Personally, I use the time units differently depending on what my intentions for that goal are. I generally use week/month/year for items that can only be entered in integers and have a rate of less than one per day - for instance, “Exercise 3 days per week” vs “Spend 30 minutes per day reading.” I could just as easily phrase the latter as “Spend 210 minutes per week reading,” I’d be more likely to do that if I wanted to set aside large blocks of time every few days to read, rather than a little bit of time here and there.

At the highly-pedantic level: 1 unit per day vs 365 per year is a difference of one unit every four years, because of leap years. But as long as the average rates are identical, it doesn’t really matter which way you set it up. Beeminder will keep you working at or better than that rate either way.

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So as I expected, this could mislead users.

If 1 unit per day, then Beeminder should not allow users to put more than 2 units into the data unless he or she is behind in their schedule.

Making every goal both have a minimum and a maximum would really break how I use Beeminder!

You seem to be combining the idea of entering data and “satisfying your commitments.” These two things aren’t perfectly equal.

I have a goal that keeps track of how many minutes I play board games with my family. I enter a datapoint for each game, noting the game and who I was playing with in the comment, and the number of minutes as the datapoint. Some days I play more than one game, resulting in more than one datapoint.

All the day’s datapoints are summed, giving the day’s datapoint. If I was only able to enter two datapoints per time period, I couldn’t play three games in one fun Saturday.

I find that my goals are more successful when I have multiple different beeminders for each actual goal. Many of my goals have both a “time spent” goal and “days where I did this” goal. This both makes sure I make steady progress, but also stops me from only working 5 minutes a day and not actually making progress.


Beeminder inherently prevents you from getting “behind” - that’s part of the beauty of it! But you can get as far “ahead” as you want (unless you’ve set things up otherwise). After all, why would I want to prevent myself from doing better than I’d planned? If I’ve overextended myself in the process, Beeminder lets me slack for a while by using the safety buffer I’ve built up - until it’s time to get back on track.

Maybe a graph would help illustrate. Here’s a screenshot of my reading goal:

As you can see, this is a do-more goal I’ve set up with “per day” units. That’s because I generally find that I read more books by doing a little every day than by trying to read large chunks in one sitting. But the graph would look exactly the same if I’d set it up as “140 pages per week”.

I can read as many pages as I want at a time, and if I do a bunch at once (or read more than planned several days in a row) I can take a break. When the purple line is about to fall below the yellow brick road, I have to either read more or pay for a derailment. The most recent datapoint was me getting excited and finishing a whole book in one sitting, so I’ve haven’t had to make time for reading anytime recently.

The flexibility to do a little each day (like at the start of this graph) or large chunks (like toward the end) is one of the things I really like about Beeminder. When I tried doing things like this before, I’d either do a little each day until I missed a day and gave up, OR do a huge chunk of work, burn out, and never pick the project up again. With Beeminder I’m able to work in whatever style seems best at the time, while still staying on track with my goals overall.

Potentially-confusing note about this graph: There are a couple points in this image where the yellow brick road jumps upward. That’s because I’ve configured my safety buffer to auto-trim to 7 days max. I did this because I’m trying to make reading a regular habit, in addition to reading more overall. If your goal is to never be able to get more than a day or two ahead, the “Auto-trimming Safety Buffer” feature (part of the Bee Plus premium plan) may be what you’re looking for.


As @gretchen says, ‘behind’ isn’t a concept in Beeminder except in the sense that today might be an ‘emergency day’ and you need to scramble back onto the road before the deadline.

Having said that, getting too far ahead also isn’t good, because you find yourself with too much ‘safety buffer’, days on which you can do nothing before the road catches up with your level of activity to date.

For some goals, you may well want to create a complementary ‘do less’ goal that you need to stay below, and feed the datapoints from one to the other using IFTTT. (Some folks use this same technique to have a weight goal and a frequency of weigh-in goal.)

Mostly, people use the safety buffer setting under the goal’s commitment tab to manually ratchet the road when they’ve done ‘too much’ in one sitting. For myself, being productively lazy, I subscribed to a lifetime premium plan and automate that using the max safe days setting for many of my goals.

For me, that’s how I manage the tension of a minimum rate (the goal slope) and a maximum effective rate (max safe days). If I really need to set a true maximum, then a ‘do less’ goal is the right approach.

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