How to beemind a "backlog" that will increase "at random"


#1

I write reports in my job, and I can reasonably write 1 report per day. Although each report is a unique flower, taking between 1 hour and ~2-3 hours worth of focussed work to write, I seem to be able to do one per day regardless (I think it takes mental energy).

I find I get assigned these reports in batches of about 5, and I have several weeks to write them. How do I beemind this? I can’t beemind an “inbox zero” type goal, because I’ll go from having 2 reports to having 7, and I want the yellow brick road to “increase with me”, while still staying at that -5 a week gradient as I continue to chip away. Under the current “inbox zero” behaviour, I’d get charged for derailing just because I happened to get given more work to do!

So - how do I beemind this? Anyone have any ideas?

I don’t want to beemind pomos dedicated to it, and while I could do a 0/1 type goal where I submit 1 if I completed one report OR had no reports to complete, that doesn’t give me a neat graph that tells me what my average backlog tends to be, how often I get given new reports, etc.

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not long enough want to read more: (i.e. anti tldr)

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My job is writing crash reports for fatal crashes that I investigate on the road. I’ll be periodically given 3-4 “local crashes” to write reports about, but also once every 2 or 3 months we’ll go on a road trip and go to crashes that are far away in our state (I live in Western Australia which is bigger than Alaska), and the last one of those I went on, we visited 5 crash sites - sometimes we see even more than that. So the amount of reports I have to write depends on how often other people die, how often my supervisor reads the basic crash reports, when the three of us in the team have time to go travelling, etc. It’s not something I can really anticipate happening in advance.

And yeah, beeminder, for good reason, doesn’t allow you to suddenly say you need an extra week safety buffer as of today.

writing this all out made me realise … would an oedometer goal fix this? If when I get a new report to write, I type in a 0, and then put in my new count?


#2

Your goal is to be motivated, so you need to find the metric that makes it work for you.
You mentioned worrying about the age of the backlog, so maybe you can beemind how many days old is the old report you have to deliver. Then getting new assignments would not directly affect that (the oldest report only ages one day per day)

Do you have a project management tool? Perhaps it already does some reports. Jira calculates an “average days tasks are unresolved” for example.


#3

It’s a good thought but I think it’s overkill to use a project management tool for this: they’re pretty routine reports.

I tend to get assigned multiple reports in the same day, so I don’t think beeminding the “day I was last given reports” is going to be very motivating, because I’ll do a 20-day-old report and… have two more 20-day-old reports to do. Added to that we tend to think of how “old” a report is based on how long ago the car crash was, and sometimes a more recent report will actually be a higher priority than a report that I’ve had on my desk for weeks (e.g. the area the crash happened was politically sensitive, or the person who died was a truck driver, which means that the “work safety” regulatory body needs a copy of the report ASAP).


#4

Seems like you have too many variables that are outside of your control and affect both how many reports you have left as well as what are the priorities. Beeminding the size/age of your backlog could turn out to be demotivating (you could track it though to show to you boss how much workload you have!). Consider again tracking your own input, e.g. hours worked or pomodoros.

If you do decide to track the number of reports, you can do a “whittle down” type of goal, but with enough buffer to account for incoming batches of new report so you don’t derail. Or go premium to have custom goals and be able to change the lange width
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