TL;DR: I’m going to try using Beeminder for the accountability part only, using other things to remind me to do the things I’m committing to.
Context: These are just thoughts about how I’m considering about using Beeminder for myself, given my productivity personality, and not meant to be prescriptive or meant to convey some “best” way of using Beeminder or anything!
I’ve been (again) toying with the idea of using Beeminder only as the tool that performs the accountability role, rather than as something that performs the reminding and/or scheduling roles too.
I already have a calendar and a to-do list and I’ve ruthlessly culled and curated my notifications so that only urgent and important things beep and pling and buzz at me, to keep them useful. I’m tempted to try to treat Beeminder, not like something that reminds me to go do something, but like a friend I made a bet with that I’ll do X, Y, or Z (let’s say swim an average of 20 minutes every weekday) and who sure as hell isn’t going to call me to get me out of bed to do it.
If that’s what I’d done, I’d make that commitment, feel the appropriate fear that I’ll forget & have to pay them, and set up 40 different ways of remembering to go swim: A slot in my calendar that I treat as an appointment but that I can reschedule if I need to, a post-it note on the coffee table so that I can’t forget and crash on the couch for the evening before swimming, an item on my daily to-do list until I get into the habit of it (and a plan for the creation of that habit that involves a cue or a trigger), a place where I hang my swimsuit every night so that I will see it before I shower, etc. etc. etc. I’d also want to work out a plan B for each, so that when my original plan-A time doesn’t work, I’m not just stuck for that day… and all the other things that contribute to good goal hygiene.
Then, I’d set my Beeminder deadline to the latest possible time I could ever reasonably consider this something that I’d done that day and set the Beeminder reminder’s start time to when I’d want to be reminded to enter the data, in case I’d forgotten to do so (instead of to remind me to go do the thing).
That way, Beeminder isn’t the cue to get up and go do X now; it’s what makes damned sure I implement the things that will support that in my life, because if I don’t, I’ll get stung. It’s also the reason that I don’t just ignore those well-timed notifications, cues, and to-do items from these other places when they come up.
One benefit of this, as I see it, is that this way I have to have a plan for when and how I’m going to do these things, rather than letting it be something I scramble to satisfy when it appears near the top of my dashboard, which is aversive for me as a way to approach these often sizeable and important things. It also means I’ll have to plan and set up my environment to support that goal, and to find a way for it to fit regularly into my life so that my remembering it and getting into the swing of it is supported by those cues around me and by a solid plan. The Beeminder part is there to make sure I don’t brush it off and ignore it, allowing those routines and habits to take hold. Eventually, I would hope to not need the Beeminder component for that goal, since it would become a habit or part of a routine and then I could replace that Beeminder goal with another, for something new, for the next item on the list of things I want to turn into habits.
There are some other problems that I think this solves for me, but this post is already getting unacceptably long, so…
My brain’s major objection to that is, “Man, sounds like it’d be hard to set up all of those plans for all of those goals. It’d be almost impossible to switch to doing that overnight with the number of things I’ve planned to do.” To which some more patient, productivity-lit-reading, knows-myself-better-than-that part of me replies, “YEAH! DUH! It takes a lot to actually commit to something, at least at the beginning. So… maybe stop committing to 43 goals at a time, Mary! If it’s too much work to set up the conditions and reminders that’ll keep you doing the thing, how much work do you think doing the actual thing is gonna be?!?!?!?!”
How about you?
I’m curious about whether others have tried anything like this and how it went?
Stay tuned if you’re curious
I’m going to try this again over the next little while and I’ll probably weave how it’s going through us chatting about these kinds of things below.