Grayson's Beeminder Journal

Meanwhile, I’ve figured out some general categories to help me use Beeminder to best advantage, given my mental-emotional makeup. To wit:

Category 1 – Recurring tasks I don’t want to forget, but don’t want or need to track over time. Many household tasks fall in this category (unload the dishwasher every morning; vacuum once a week), as do some personal habits (spend a few minutes on the trickboard every day, shower at least every 3 days). Apple’s Reminders works really well for me here, in addition to serving as my low-friction capture mechanism for one-off tasks, appointments, and deadlines.

Category 2 – Activities for which seeing a history of data points is rewarding. Beeminder is great here, of course, and can be purely a visual tracker if I dial the road slope down to zero. I did that for a long time with my weight graph, for example, just to track what was going on.

Category 3 – Activities I want to incentivize, even when I don’t feel like doing them. This, of course, is what Beeminder is made for.

Part of my past difficulty was that I set up Beeminder goals for Category 1 things. What made that problematic: first, I felt like I was constantly putting out fires. Seeing any color other than green in my Beeminder dashboard is stressful for me. Second, I was recording the history of this stress for things that DID NOT MATTER. It was actually counterproductive to track, say, unloading the dishwasher in Beeminder. I don’t care whether I did it yesterday; every day is a clean slate where that’s concerned. So it’s been useful to distinguish my Category 1 goals and keep them in a system that does not track history.

It’s been a little harder to separate out Category 2 and Category 3 goals. Some goals are both: behavior I want to incentivize AND want to see past data for. But some goals are only one or the other. If a goal is just Category 2, that’s easy enough with the zero-slope trick I noted above. But what about a goal that’s Cat 3 but NOT Cat 2? I want to incentivize it, but don’t want the stress of past choices in my face?

Mainly, though, my issue has been internal. When push comes to shove, I feel bad when I derail – I feel like a failure. This is, believe it or not, intimately related to the childhood bullying I noted in my previous post. Put simply, I’ve spent my entire life trying to figure out what was wrong with me (because that’s the message I internalized as a child), so failing to do X always feels like failure-as-a-human-being to me. Stupid, yes. Untrue, yes. But deeply ingrained. I’m working on it.