Congrats on your amazing week!
Did you invent MVS? It looks a lot like micro-habits, that I reinvented, probably like dozens of other Beeminder users, haha
Congrats on your amazing week!
Did you invent MVS? It looks a lot like micro-habits, that I reinvented, probably like dozens of other Beeminder users, haha
I did, I guess! Just the name I’m using for it, though, since it’s pretty isomorphic to your micro-habits. The underlying “just nudge yourself into action” idea is one I’ve used before with success. This time around I guess I wanted a better name for it — I am a big fan of names that remind me why I’m doing things at all. So (frex) my health-related goals such as walking and arm exercises are in a project called “Age Well” — so much more likely to make me do them than just “Health”. If I call it “Health” I’ll argue with myself about how I am healthy and if I skip today it won’t make a difference. By calling it “Age Well” I’m reminded that I’m not doing this for today, but for the long term.
So the idea with the name “Minimum Viable Success” is to remind me that (a) this is a non-negotiable amount of effort, when the task comes due, and (b) the amount of effort I choose when I’m creating a task needs to be free of fantasy and wishful thinking :).
You’re right, there’s something better about this phrasing. My health goal is named “feelgood”, which is arguably not that good but reminds me too of the longer picture too.
I’ve thought about your Minimum Viable Success and I actually prefer it over micro-habits for some stuff, like walking out. MVS feels less constraining and more positive than “micro-habits”, which should apply more to when one wants to actually create habits rather than nudge themselves in the right direction.
So I might rename some of my goals to start with “mvs” just because of you
Awwww what an honor!
Still idly musing about a way to set up my “yes is the good answer” goals to give me the same kind of visual oomph my “no is the good answer” goals can give me, without having to turn them into negative questions. Pretty sure there is no way to do it, because I’m abusing (or, to put it positively, finding creative ways to use) the way Beeminder’s color-coding system interacts with PPR-able goals. But it would be gratifying if I did find a way :).
Yes. I dialed back my goals to Minimum Viable Success levels and have been doing them consistently all week. So far, so good! A side benefit is that by doing only a few minutes a day in the grammar workbooks, I revisit the same concept several days in a row, which can only be good for retention.
Yes, but I entered a behavior-enhancing No for this one anyway. That’s because last Monday I lamed out on my second daily walk. The derail only costs me $5, so it isn’t financially painful (more a toe-stub than a broken toe, you might say, if you were tired and prone to fanciful metaphors); rather, I’m using it to signal myself that I should take myself seriously on both sides of the equation: doer-me should trust the system I have set up for myself, and orchestrator-me should be vigilant about setting up tasks to be MVS and not a jot more ambitious. This derail raps both sets of knuckles! Efficient! Also, it’s my first foray into deliberately using derails as a force for good (instead of haplessly undergoing them as a sign of failure).
Now, to officially answer the second half of the question, so this goal counts for my meta-review goal: what can I do to fix the “No”? Answer: do whatever Things tells me is up next, make sure the things I tell Things to tell me to do next are MVS, and expect to pay $10 next time I violate either.
No. MVSing my language goals last week did the trick. Sweet! Way to go, Grayson! Well done.
I’ll say more below. First, a walk through my current goals — some of them for the last time.
Based on my intent when I created this goal: no. So I’m taking the $5 hit. I’m also archiving the goal, because this is a sunk-cost goal and a wishful-thinking goal and an ignore-life-changes goal. Much as I would like to become fluent in Spanish, French, German and Mandarin, the plan to do that is one I made when I thought maybe my sabbatical was maybe turning into retirement. I was looking for a big, interesting project to sink my teeth into, now that I had time galore. All that changed when I decided to get a degree in linguistics, and to return to full-time work while waiting for the fall semester to start. I do not and will not have time galore for other projects, and no amount of expert planning and wanting-to will change that. This is wisdom born of long, hard experience. It saddens me to drop these goals, and I’m continuously having to remind myself that this is not laming out or failing or being flighty or any of those other terrible things I tell myself. That voice is not my voice; it’s the voice of my childhood bullies, adapting its broken-record message to the current situation.  The truth is, this is the sane, self-honoring, grownup thing to do (in the best of ways). There are things more important to me, and something has to go.
Based on my intent when I created this goal: no. So I’m taking the $10 hit. I’m also archiving it (more on that in the Changes section below). This goal, too, suffers from wishful thinking. When I return to work on Feb 1, I’ll have natural moments for walking: 35 minutes to the train station, and 35 minutes back at the end of the day. I was trying to force myself into that rhythm earlier, and its artificiality chafed. I dropped back to just one walk a day last week, but even that was hard to maintain. As for resistance training, I was ideal-worlding-wishful-thinking myself into daily sessions, when twice a week is enough. All this is valuable insight, and the derail affirms that I still have work to do on excising wishful thinking from my plans. That is: I did not refuse to do my good and thoughtful plan; I created a plan that wasn’t yet good and thoughtful, and my resistance to doing it was a sign to reconsider. This is great progress! And powerful.
Yes. Archiving it now (more on that below).
Simplicity works best for me, I’ve learned through decades of experience. I’m prone to develop complex systems and plans, but that doesn’t mean I’m bound to them. Setting up systems is like writing: you throw everything that’s in your head at the page, then gradually cut out the chaff until it becomes incisive and beautiful.
For my Beeminder goals, that means this: everything essential I want to track is already covered in the Overwhelm and Fall Thru Cracks goals. If the answers to those are “yes” some week, the answer to “how can I fix that” will invariably cover all of the concrete projects and life areas I have. So I’m archiving all my “Am I thriving / doing enough in area X” goals, and Overwhelm and Fall Thru Cracks will be the only two that I review here weekly like this. I’m also archiving my Meta Review goal, which tracked whether I answered all of my questions. With only two left, Meta Review is overkill.
Other system changes
My Things setup was, predictably, becoming unwieldy. Much as my organizational mind loves GTD, it doesn’t work for me in practice. All that capturing and organizing starts to feel like clutter and government bureaucracy, and my focus narrows to whatever’s on my task list and I lose all flexibility. This is not to say there’s anything wrong with GTD, only to say that it isn’t the right paradigm for me. My other bugaboo is the desire for One Ring To Rule Them All. It feels like simplicity to have one system do all the things, but it invariably turns into head-clutter for me.
My system is still in flux, but here’s what I’ve currently worked out:
A critical workability factor here is that these systems each do One Thing Only, and their domains are disjoint (non-overlapping). All Reminders does is tell me about my weekly and monthly routines. All Things does is capture thoughts for later perusal, and put the thoughts that are time sensitive in front of me at the right moment. All Notion / pen & paper do is give me a place to ramble out loud and move thoughts around until I’ve thought them through as much as I’d like to. All Beeminder does is tell me what’s truly important to me. If I ignored all my other systems, I’d still be on track (but with a messy house and an expired passport). If I ignored anything in Beeminder, I wouldn’t be on track.
Said another way: everything that is merely helpful, or aspirational, or potential, or nebulous but worth a later look-see is in one of the first three systems. Everything essential to being who I want to be is in Beeminder. It will, of course, be paramount to keep this division in place. As I said above, more on this next week — it’s time to start getting ready for the day here.
 The bullies’ voice is so much fainter than it used to be, and it has almost none of the sting it used to — the marvelous result of having finally seen it for what it was last year. Instant deactivation. What’s left is more like an echo. It’s been so much easier to see through its falsity this time around.
Not yet. As of last Wednesday I’m working fulltime again, so my mileage may vary going forward. But hey, being deliberate about what shouldn’t fall through the cracks is what this goal is for!
No — I’m feeling quite excited and energized. Woot!
So far, so good on the new Many Things To Do One Piece Of The Pie Each approach. I did find I needed a clearer visual marker of where I was in my Reminders Weekly list, so I added a “— done —” task to use as a divider (see screenshot). I’ll move it back to the bottom every Sunday, when I do these weekly reviews.
Also, I forgot to note in last week’s post that I’ll use my Calendar app for actual appointments. I’ve edited that post to add it in.
I noted last week that Beeminder will be for the tasks / projects that are essential to being who I want to be. These revolve around my Christianity. I know that many ears here probably just heard “I’ve lost my mind and am doubling down on insanity” (I was right there with you for five decades). I sense that this forum is not the place for me to reflect in depth on this topic, so I’ll do that elsewhere  and only report here weekly on the Beemindery side of these goals.
So! On to it. I spent this week deeply considering what I should track. I want to track the actual important thing, and not some letter-of-the-law activity. I considered three Do More goals to track my morning devotion, bible reading, and evening devotion, but they feel too specific somehow. Just this morning I hit on what I think is the right goal: a Do Less to track how many times I don’t do one of those because (a) I was “too tired” (b) I was “too busy” (c) I had “something more important” to do (d) etc. etc. This gets right to the heart of it! It’s a deliberate way for me to distinguish between falling off the wagon and an actually valid reason to miss a day. I don’t want any buffer for “too tired” “too busy” etc., but I do want it for “helped a friend through an emergency instead” etc.
I’m also considering a super-specific goal for my bible reading, because I have chronic But Is This Really The Best Tool For The Job, Really? syndrome. This one would penalize me for switching tools in 2023. But I might just bake it into the goal above, instead. Still musing.
 possibly a journal on my website, in which case I’ll drop in a link for anyone who is interested.
None yet. I’m still musing. I desperately do not want to create yet another piece of organizational overhead. So until I’m certain what will actually improve things, I’m holding off on goal creation.
So far the importance of doing my morning devotion, evening devotion, and bible reading is still front and center for me, so I have a little time before I need a second level of reinforcement. Of course, the whole catch-22 is that I won’t need the second level until I start convincing myself those things aren’t so important after all, so it needs to be in place before then but I don’t need it yet but… aaaahhhhhh… at which point I’ll have to tell you all about it here, and you will throw raw vegetables at me.
Edited to add:
In my recent cogitation I’ve also noticed that the way I’ve been framing potential new goals runs counter to the idea that derailing is nailing it (or even just ‘not failing’). So I need to figure that out.
Yes: I’m not getting my reminders to put out the trash on collection day, because I changed how I’m using my system (see my post above, a few weeks back).
How can I fix that?
Hmmm. I don’t want to muddy my clean division of tools. That means no scheduled reminders in Reminders, no recurring tasks in Things. You might say “put them on your Calendar” but that’s where they are now. I just don’t look at my Calendar often enough.
The fix: I’m adding Calendar to my iPhone’s Home Focus as an app that may send notifications. The only app with that privilege, so far!
A little, yes. I’m starting to think about work at home, especially when I’m awake in the middle of the night. The culprit is my penchant for wanting to plan and control things, combined with a project that’s taking longer than expected so I’ll probably miss the deadline. In that cocktail, my brain incessantly runs through ways to Fix The Problem.
How can I fix that?
There are some inside-the-box answers here, such as “plan projects with more leeway” or “get up and work on what’s bugging me so I get it back on track.” The real answer, however, is to remember where my life is centered, and to trust that. Ultimately, all my work and personal projects are just vehicles for being out in the world, where I can practice loving God above all else and loving others as myself.
The fix: Keep growing the number of moments each day where I’m aware of the last two sentences above. Concretely: add a reminder to all my iPhone Focus lock screens and add Google Calendar reminders to my work calendar (because I almost never look at my phone while I’m at work).
None. Still mulling. The above two Do Less goals work really well as meta life goals, but any Do More goals will need to meet the following criteria:
This will be a quick one! Which I think is good!
Nope! Letting Calendar notify me with persistent banners is doing the trick for recurring reminders.
Nope! My new “Trust God, be patient” text on my iPhone home screen is great. And the momentary project issues at work have resolved.
None. Still mulling!
Maybe a little? Not because there’s too much stuff to do, but because I see the gap between where I want to be and where I am now. I am a doer, meaning when I see a problem, I fix the problem — I have a plan, I’m in control. “Trust God, be patient” is both incredibly freeing and kind of terrifying. Letting go of control is stressful.
None. Still mulling!
Nope! Had a fabulous very deep conversation with my husband last weekend and am feeling loved and understood and it’s amazing how much that helps with everything else.
None. I guess I’m good for now? I’ll keep mulling it on the back burner, but not going to stress about it for now.
Some, yes. Mainly dismay about the gulf between how meaningless life-as-usual seems to me versus how satisfied everyone around me is with life-as-usual. I often feel like a deep-sea swimmer stuck in the shallow end of the pond.
I often feel exactly this. It makes life feel really bad, but on the other hand, I believe that it can foster progress. But all progress doesn’t need to be done while feeling awful; it can be done while feeling good too.
Now I’m learning how to appreciate the small stuff, slow down, not criticizing myself so much.
Now I believe that being satisfied with my life doesn’t start with superficial stuff on the outside, but more an approach to life from the inside. And then the superficial stuff starts to feel good.
The sun on the skin doesn’t feel good if you aren’t ready to accept it, if you are worrying about something else
(Did you notice? I finished Siddhartha by Herman Hesse and I’m now brainwashed )
Go to the deep end, then!
(sorry for hijacking)
Not hijacking! Conversing. And thanks so much for weighing in, Camille. Some great stuff here. And it’s nice to know I’m not alone. <3
Every week is pretty much like the last few posts above, so I’ve stopped reporting in weekly. Here’s what’s new since the last post:
I’ve started volunteering one day a week with the Dutch Council for Refugees. It’s very rewarding and an antidote to meaningless life-as-usual.
I’ve archived my
fall-thru-cracks goals. Nothing much was happening there, and maintaining them started to feel like overhead instead of value. That means I have one goal left, my
weight goal. I’ve been tracking that since November 2014 (with occasional breaks).
I’ve discovered The Bible Project and am really loving their Classroom setup. I’m currently taking the “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible” class and it’s phenomenal. Deeply nerdy literary analysis etc. Pretty much the antidote to both simplistic literalism and all-metaphor-all-the-time approaches.
So I’ve got my “do stuff” system set up pretty well for my particular quirks, but I can’t help wanting to use Beeminder more than I do. I could say lots about that but I’ll forgo the long blah blah and cut to my current idea — which I’m posting here in order to solicit you brilliant folks’ suggestions on how to implement.
I want to try out tracking the percentage of “to dos” that I complete. This will give me a sense over time of how effective I am at doing stuff I decided was worth doing, for whatever reason. Then I can adjust behavior to improve that percentage — either by being motivated to do more of the stuff on the list, or by curating my list of stuff to do more carefully. I think it’ll be a win either way.
I currently use 2 to-do lists in Apple Reminders: one for Household & Admin tasks, and one for a standardized list of things I want to do regularly, called Eight Things. (It’s based on Feynman’s idea to have twelve things you’re mulling in your head at any given time, for enhanced eureka moment opportunities. I am no Feynman so it’s only eight things and frankly some of them are ludicrously mindless eureka-void activities, like “play PvZ”. I’ve noticed that including trash to-dos in my list strangely motivates me to do additional things in my list, I theorize because endorphins from checking off something even if pointlessly lame.) ANYWAY. Everything on each list is scheduled to pop up on the right day.
An iOS shortcut something like this Shortcuts
You can edit the first action at the top to filter using whichever criteria you want for finding the Reminders - just press the + after “Deadline is today” and you’ll be able to select the lists you want etc.
At the end I’ve made it pop up with an alert - you can remove that action once it’s doing what you want.
You can add the Beeminder goal name to the Beeminder action at the end - at the moment it’ll prompt you for it every time.
I’ve realised you wanted “past due” reminders including. You can do this, though I’ve forgotten the jiggerypokery needed to get midnight tonight as a date to put into the reminders limit criteria offhand but I can find it out for you later.
I was trying to avoid grabbing two separate sets of reminders for your first two points, but I think you might have to anyway as you don’t care about reminders that were scheduled and completed in the past.