This is kind of sensitive topic, but I can explain (or maybe not).
I need a system for tracking some areas of my life, numbers and time. Something very similar to Beeminder, but without the pressure of credit cards and YBR. Something that collects my data rather than pushes me. “Goals with no pledge” sound closer to what I need, only I don’t want goals at all and paying $32/monthly seems unreasonable, since I don’t need anything else of Beemium plan.
Another feature that I’d like to see in such system is the possibility to set daily reminders both for “less” and “more”. For example, I want to read more, but I don’t want to spend more than one hour daily reading, so I’d like this app to remind me that I’m done with books for today.
Does such an app/service exist? Or can Beeminder be “fixed” in order to meet these requirements?
I should mention that I am not geeky (to put it mildly) – even Excel is too much brain work for me.
I want the same thing because I’m the type that performs worse under pressure, and beeminder works well enough. The trick is to disconnect the derail cost from the derailing in my head, and consider the occasional $5 derail charge an oddly variable cost to the service, and it comes out vastly cheaper than $32/mo, at least for me.
There are some ways you could start to approach this with Beeminder:
- Goals with pledges capped at $5, treated as a variable service fee as @bluetulip suggests.
- Paired do more/do less goals go keep you in the range you want (do less goals are a premium feature, though)
But on the whole, the idea of committing to a goal is pretty central to Beeminder.
As much as I love Beeminder, my recommendation would be to take the time and energy it would take to set this up with Beeminder and instead put it into learning enough Excel for what you’d like to do. Excel is a powerful tool, and all kinds of possibilities open up to you once you know how to use it… It can be intimidating precisely because it is powerful, but the basic functions are quite straightforward. If you can figure out how to post in this forum, you can learn Excel.
Here’s a video that shows some basic Excel functions step-by-step. I’d say about 90% of what I do in Excel is covered in this video - and I’m an engineer, so I use it on a near-daily basis. This appears to be the first video in a series. Youtube is a great place to learn software skills like this.
EDIT: I realized I did that thing I hate when other people do: proposed a solution you specifically said you had considered and ruled out. Sorry about that. I stand by the recommendation, though - Excel (possibly in combination with alarms on my phone) is probably the tool I would go to if I were in a situation similar to what you’ve described. If you can provide a bit more detail about the type of information you’d like to track, other folks may know of better options.
No, my brain does not work that way. It knows perfectly well that we are on “zero money waste” policy, $5 or $0.5 – does not matter.
Yes, as you already said, people hate when someone proposes a “solution” specifically ruled out. No Excel. I’m sure there is an app for that.
Have you looked at Daytum? I haven’t in a long time, but this can track stuff for you. It will not tell you to stop doing stuff, though.
P.S.: I think in a certain sense I have had a similar need. I was always incredibly slow in the bathroom after waking up to get ready for the day. If I rushed through my bathroom time in the morning when I was so tired that my brain barely worked, I forgot some aspect (like flossing) of my routine, which was bad also. So I needed a way to somehow…
a) track my time in the bathroom in the morning
b) make sure that I do what I need to do in there in the morning
c) make it so that the whole process doesn’t take longer then 30 minutes
d) track that, so I get a pretty and informative graph
The way I have done it is the following:
- I set up a List in an App called 30/30, which excells at the “telling me I should do something else” part, that includes all the tasks in the morning.
- When I start the task list in 30/30 I immediately start my stop watch on my phone, too. This makes sure that I have a reliable measurement of the total time I have actually spend in the bathroom (since I can mark tasks as done before the timer runs out, this makes sense)
- Finally, I set up a generous goal in Beeminder towards which I have committed to stay under 30 minutes of bathroom time in the morning (it’s currently at 5 times a week and has a lot of buffer). I added as the last task of my 30/30 list to track my stuff in beeminder so I would not forget.
This works beautifully for me. Not sure if it can help you, though. So that’s why I put it in a P.S. Good luck!
What about keeping your goals at significant buffer? That can pretty well imitate “goals with no pledge”. For example, I consider it high time to do something when a goal has only 9 days of buffer left. Just because 10 is a round number easily distinguishable from 9 in the goals list. At this buffer, I am always free to add any flat spot so it doesn’t really “push” (as in eep-day “push”) me to do anything, but gently reminds me that to continue at the rate I would like to, I need to do this more today.
@matti I’ve looked at Daytum, but it’s iOS only and haven’t been updated for many years. Anyway, I’m mostly web + Android, though I owe an iPad. 30/30 is also iOS only, but there are similar timers for Android (not so beautiful but functional). I can understand how your system helps to get things done, however if I am not mistaken it does not collect any data.
@scarabaea @apolyton Zero goals, lower goals, generous goals, goals with no pledge are still goals, and as I have mentioned I want to get rid of goals at all, just to collect some meaningful statistics.
Beeminder will always have goals , commitments and deadlines. So there’s no “fixing” it
Have a look at exist.io https://exist.io/
What kind of data do you want to track?
Yes, that’s why I am looking for an app that would do it for me. Exist.io is entirely different thing, it collects data from other services. I want to track things like “cups of coffee”, certain numbers and time I spend on various projects. There are separate apps for each purpose, of course, but I’m hoping to find one that can do everything – like Beeminder, but with daily reminders and without goals.
I know you said no Excel, but what about Google Forms to Google
Spreadsheets? You don’t have to look at a spreadsheet–it looks like a
normal webpage, and the data is collected into a spreadsheet. This is how
I do my gratitude journal, and it looks like this:
@ndanda It does collect some data. I collect if I made it under 30 minutes and in the comments field it collects how many minutes it actually took, with a further comment in parentheses, if needed.
I think from your answers it’s become pretty clear, that you don’t want to use Beeminder for the tracking. Even though I have to admit that your stance against “goals” seems a little bit inflexible (which is fine, of course, it’s your decision…), because as far as I can see, reframing what goals actually mean, as has been suggested many times by the members of this forum, might already help enough, so to speak. But if it’s really necessary that the word “goal” is not mentioned (there might be good reasons for that, I’m sure…), then any pragmatic/“hacked” solution that incorporates Beeminder will not work, obviously. Maybe it’d be good to state that you definitely don’t want to use a - somehow “hacked” - Beeminder. Because that’s what I and it seems some other people have understood at first.
Some more tracking apps, which I found by searching for “daytum alterntive” on google:
EDIT: There is also this post from the beeminder blog that might help. It’s from 2011, but has been updates a bunch of times.
@adamwolf Google forms didn’t work for me: too much trouble to update from a mobile device (still no app), no reminders, no timer, and everything ends up in an ugly spreadsheet that I can’t make any sense of. Tried this in 2015 to collect some data (sort of daily review), but only managed 2 weeks.
@matti Yes, I erroneously thought it was pretty clear from my initial post, sorry if it wasn’t: I want an app with all the features of Beeminder but without goals. Since goals can’t be cut from Beeminder, then it should be a different app.
But from the comments it looks like I’ve already tried everything (including apps from your list), nothing fits. There are lots of time tracking apps, lots of services that collect data from other services, lots of counters but nothing that combines it all.
Another business opportunity for Beeminder team? Just cut goals, and I would pay for such an app.
My guess you might be best covered by apps targeted to “habit tracking”, some googling for web/android solutions get me these examples
If you’re looking for something that will just get manual data but do nothing with that (no kind of goal or insights or nudging for repetition), it seems like the only solution is excel or google sheets (which works nicely on mobile btw)
Thanks again, but yet again – tried them all. Zagalaga (KeepTrack) – no timer, and a very unstable developer. Habitbull – no timer. The Habithub (Rewire) – no timer.
I’m currently experimenting with using Beeminder in a semi-lenient mode. Might be helpful, even with $5 pledge caps.
One of my problems is simply ‘getting started’, so I’ve set the slope on my goals to the stupidest bare minimum that I can imagine. e.g. my reading goal today says that I need to read at least one page. It’s in the David Allen GTD territory of ‘duh, I can do that’.
Then I have an autoratchet set up to make sure that I have to do that at least every so many days, usually 2-3, sometimes 0, sometimes 7. Autoratchet is also on a premium plan, but there’s nothing stopping you from manually ratcheting your goals every evening.
This scheme may or may not suit your goals, but I thought that posting it here might be useful for someone.
The extreme version of this, of course, is to leave your road completely flat. I’ve got a couple of tracker-things like that, some with 30 day auto ratchets set so that I don’t just forget about them entirely.
Fully agree that most of my Beeminder ‘goals’ aren’t actually goals, and that I sometimes bristle at the term, and the display of money and deadlines on things that don’t really have them, etc. For me that’s currently the friction of using a great system in non-standard ways. It may eventually become a feature.
Interesting about “getting started” – does it work? do you actually move from bare minimum to reasonable quantities? or you just stay with one page a day?
I once read a book called “Simple rules” and tried to implement some of the things suggested, like establishing a really minimalistic exercise routine with just a few movements, to get into a habit. It took almost no efforts, but also provided no results, and in the end I lost interest. Beeminding 30 minutes of physical activity daily worked much better.
Sounds Beeminder is actually your best chance to do what you want. You’ve got manual tracking and time tracking in one app. Just start your goals at 0$ pledge and make no commitment, I’m pretty sure you can have a goal of “0 per week”