Beeminder Forum

Help: Scheduling a twice-a-week task

I’d like set a task that must be completed at least twice in each calendar week, but face troubles getting Beeminder to accommodate this simple setup.

For example, I have complete the task once this week, so it must be performed at least one other time - or I derail. However, as the screenshot shows, Beeminder either requires me to perform it within the next 3 hours (with rachet at 0) or allows me about three weeks to complete another instance (if the rachet is at 7).

How can I set a task that must be completed at least twice in each calendar week?


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To demo the problem: If I complete the task four times in one week, Beeminder says “safe for 14 days”. But given that the task is due at least twice every week, doing more this week shouldn’t reduce the number of tasks next week. In other words, the number of completed tasks should reset at the beginning of each week; they can’t be carried over from one week to another.

What am I missing here?

Hi! Thanks for sharing what you’re looking for – it’s really useful to hear!

Beeminder doesn’t really work the way you’re expecting, in that we fundamentally don’t care at all about calendar weeks, and we’re all about making continuous progress rather than “do x by y date”. In the end, I’m not sure if you can tweak Beeminder to do what you’re looking for, because it sounds like you do care about the calendar week and that things won’t work correctly for you otherwise. There are solutions for separate pieces of what you want (like autoratcheting to prevent you getting extra buffer, though that requires a premium account), but nothing that really answers your whole brief.

Maybe forum regulars will have some ideas here that get close to what you want? I’m getting stuck on the “calendar week” part, really; that seems to be important to you, but it’s not a part of how Beeminder works at all. Here’s hoping other folks will have some ideas!

I guess (tacking this on at the end) my best bet is for you to manually create steps in your graph, a la this goal of mine (only increasing rather than decreasing). Then you can set the days the steps go up to being the end of the calendar week…

Just spitballin’—you could write a little cronjob or IFTTT task or similar that triggers every sunday (or whatever time “calendar week” rolls over for you) and ratchets your goal to 7 days of safety buffer, maybe?

(btw, @shanaqui, your “this goal of mine” link is to… this thread, not to a goal)

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Is it possible to invert the question somewhat? Instead of thinking of how often to do the task, i.e. at least twice per calendar week, think about the maximum amount of time that should elapse between doing the task today and the next time you must do it.

Setting that to 6 days would mean doing the task at least once a week (because max safe days are calculated overnight). Setting it to 3 days would enforce twice per week, kind of, by enforcing at least once every four days.

Do you have to force yourself to do this task? Seems not, given that you’re worried about building up too much safety buffer. Maybe it’s something that you’re worried about neglecting when things get busy, in which case a goal of at-least-every-5-days might be sufficient.

Thanks to everyone who replied. It’s wonderful to know that Beeminder has such a support network.

@shanaqui - I’m surprised by your answer, because Beeminder defines commitments as “number of units” in “unit of time”, e.g., 3 visits per week or 4 calls per month. But it seems that the “unit of time” part isn’t enforced.

This can lead to comical outcomes: If I need to get a haircut 6 times in 6 months, it’ll be better to perform it exactly once a month. Getting all six in one week won’t bring an attractive result :slight_smile: The same is true for many of life’s chores: Taking out the trash (three times a week but not three times in the same day), brushing your teeth (twice a day), or exercising (once a day).

Is it really possible that Beeminder can’t count how many times something occurs within a unit of time?

@rperce - I’m somewhat familiar with IFTTT. How can I implement your idea there?

@philip - I like your idea! Can you lead me though the settings needed to run it?

It’ll be great in the first week! More seriously, part of the origin of Beeminder was the idea of akrasia, of irrationally delaying doing something that you’d like to do (or have done), are able to do, but in all likelihood won’t do. To this day, I think @dreev relies heavily on Beeminder forcing him to do something, which he calls ‘edge-skating’, rather than being in danger of building up too much safety buffer (safe days).

I’ve got a lot of goals like that. They’re also good safety nets for habits that I think I don’t need a goal for anymore!

I have just realized that the ‘auto ratchet’ setting on your goal’s ‘commitment’ tab is a premium feature, part of the ‘Bee Plus’ plan. If you have access to that, then it’s simply a matter of setting that field to whatever number of days. Then, every night, your goal will be checked to see that it doesn’t exceed that limit.

You can manually do the same using the ‘ratchet’ feature on the ‘commitment’ tab, every time that you notice that you’ve built up too many safe days.

Thanks, @philip !

I’m happy to pay for a useful service, so if “auto rachet” is premium, I’ll cover it. Just to make sure I understand: I’m looking at a task that must be performed twice a week, but not necessarily every three days. In other words, if I performed it on Monday and Tuesday, then I don’t have to perform it again in the same week. So, saying “at least once every three days” isn’t the same as “twice a week”.

What do you think?

As @shanaqui said, there’s no exact match in Beeminder to what you wanted. So you’re right that a Beeminder goal set to only allow 3 days between task-performances would fail for you if Monday and Tuesday should be counted as sufficient effort for a whole calendar week. It probably won’t ever behave as you’d hope.

It’s messy, but you could have two Beeminder goals for this one real-world goal, each set to enforce at-least-once-per-week (e.g. with 6 days auto ratchet), and enter your task against whichever of those two goals is closest to derailing.

Excellent discussion here! Thanks, y’all!

I just updated our help page about what day one’s week starts to include some notes related to the questions here.

PS: I think my general recommendation is to not worry about auto-ratchet yet and just set the bright red line to a rate of 2 per week and whenever you notice you have more safety buffer than you want (because you’ve been doing more than 2 per week) go ahead and manually ratchet your goal. But also maybe just enjoy the safety buffer you’ve earned, or consider committing to more than 2 per week if more than 2 per week feels sustainable and valuable.

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@philip @dreev - I think I start to understand. When BeeMinder says “twice a week”, it really means “2 times in the last 7 days”. Is this correct?

If so, this is close enough to what I’m looking for: Performing a task at regular intervals with some flexibility. If that’s the case, do I need “auto ratchet”?


Exactly right! I would say not to reach for auto-ratchet until you’re sure that normal ratcheting isn’t enough, or that you can’t just dial in your rate such that ratcheting isn’t an issue at all. (See also the PS I added on my last post.)