Beeminder Forum

Feedback from a newbee

I’d heard about the site for a while but finally gave it a try a little over a week ago. I was impressed when I read how it actually works; it seems pretty well thought out.

I have an organizational scheme for myself which kind of works, but it has two failure modes. One is that when I set goals for myself I tend to concentrate on the goals and not do other things that aren’t being measured. So I see that and add more things to the goals to account for that. Then I get overwhelmed and take a day off, then that repeats and taking one day off turns to taking a few days off turns to disengaging completely. Or something comes up like a bad on-call week and I intentionally give myself the week off, but wind up taking a month to get back into the rhythm.

Beeminder seems like a great system for encouraging me to keep with it via the psychological pushes and the ability to stay on track by dialing down the goals and scheduling breaks.

I tried setting up two goals, one to move a number of trello tasks to done each day, and one to floss, to test out a manual and an automatic goal. I plan to keep things such that there is always between one and two weeks of buffer time before derailing.

My first impression is that by default Beeminder sends a lot of mail. Even two mails a day is a lot and if I scaled it up to track 3-5 things it would be way too much. I think I’d like a single summary mail that listed all the goals and how much time was left. I want to be nudged every day, but even two daily mails felt like spam. When I go to the website and see the goal overview there is exactly the summary I want. So I’ve set just the goal I care about most to send daily email and plan to just go to the site since I have to each day anyway to enter data.

There are some acronyms that you run into before you see the explanation, like eep, ifttt. You can find out, but it takes some web searching to find blog posts.

One thing I am considering tracking eventually is not having any trello cards on a list that are past due. I’m thinking I could use Zapier and have something that fires once a day and gives me a point if there aren’t any past due cards and connecting it to a do more goal with a rate of 7 a week. Could that work? Is there a better way to do that kind of thing?

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Agreed! In the old days, replying to those emails was how people entered data.

You can adjust what email gets sent goal-by-goal, or for all goals on this (messy) email tab of your settings page. There’s an existing idea to be able to set default settings for all new goals.

Also: it’s insanely valuable to get insights from a newbee perspective. I’ve only commented on one thing, but your whole post is fab. I’m looking forward to updates as your experience with beeminding grows. Thanks!

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“Eep” isn’t an acronym but it’s covered in our glossary.

And like @philip said, we’re working on the too-many-reminders problem. Great feedback!

So where did “eep” come from? Am I missing something, or is there an interesting story here?

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Y’know, like “eep! get back on the road!”

Could license the Cathy comic character and replace ‘eep!’ with ‘ack!’

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OK. Obviously a good term. I just never heard it before.

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To us computer scientists “ack” means “acknowledged”. (Curse you, Cathy!)

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Here are some followup thoughts after a month.

I’m happy with it but it’s still a little hard to tell because I’m in a high energy period anyway. It definitely has helped me keep on track better than I would have on my own. I have a little ritual in the mornings and evenings where I enter data and check goals and it still feels lightweight. I solved the too much email issue by turning off most of the emails.

I’m still not completely sold on the commitment contract aspect. I’m using it more as a tool to track and keep me engaged. On one hand one of my general goals is to reduce stress in my life and having daily deadlines where I have to do something or pay money feels counter to that. On the other hand if I was feeling contrary paying $5 or $10 wouldn’t really stop me.

What I find very helpful about it is that I have set up goals to give gentle low pressure nudges. For example I have a goal to eat healthier 6 days out of 7. If something tempting comes up I know that I am allowed to have it, but think if it is worth using up some of my buffer or not and often won’t. And there’s no chance I will think that since I had the donut yesterday I might as well go to the coffee shop and have a mocha today.

Also it is very nice seeing the cumulative graphs and feeling pleased that I have done what I set out to, rather than worrying if I should be doing more.

I do have a few specific comments on the graphs. It came up in another thread, but it seems like slightly weird things happen because you set the centerline but it reports on the critical edge.

I have a weight loss goal set to lose .5 lb a week that I am well ahead of. My main page tells me that goal has +2.46 due on Sept 28, which doesn’t seem like a useful thing to say nor do I know why it is telling me that. Maybe that it the time I would hit the centerline if I did nothing and 2.46 is the width of the road?

I have a goal integrated with Trello to count number tasks done. I moved the rate from 2 a day to 3 a day. In the amounts due by day chart it showed nothing due on the day the rate increase kicked in. I guess that makes sense because the road width would have increased, but it still seems weird.

I don’t understand what the avg rate per week is in the stats box. I would have expected it either to be the average amount the data has changed per week, or the average slope of the road, but it seems to be neither. I just created a goal to spend 30 minutes a week, and it shows the avg rate equal to 29.62 per week, with no data entered yet.

None of these are a big deal or really affect the use I get out of the site.

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Yes, this is on our list to fix, but is messy. Thanks to @insti for convincing us of this one.

Agreed! And your deduction is right but we do need to make this less obtuse.

Yup, perfect example of how things will be less weird when we make the fundamental thing you’re dialing be not the centerline but the critical road edge.

Average rate of the whole road, all the way to the goal date. Probably not the most useful number, or maybe we should include both average so far and eventual average?

Thanks so much for the feedback and questions; hugely helpful!

See this forum thread about the stats box: UI: Stats box

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