Beeminder Forum

Is there a method to gauge if I'm "on-track today" to maintain my current buffer days? (Maybe a Feature Request: "Bright Yellow Line"?)

I like to have and maintain a certain number of buffer days for my goals. If I have too many buffer days, then I’m likely to slack off. If everyday is a beemergency, then that causes me unnecessary stress, which increases cortisol levels, and is generally an unhealthy way for me to live. (I understand some people need or even enjoy being on beemergency days.)

@adba stated the issue very well in Discord:

if my goal is 50 per day and I’ve put in something less than 50 and it’s not a beemergency day, I’m out of luck with being nudged to do a specific amount more, other than very indirectly through my own conventions.

“…for quantity goals, I find I skate off towards infinity or beemergencies, and lack of UI support for whether I’m (that day) above or below the level I’m smoothing out to is a contributor to that I think”

So is there some kind of method, or perhaps integration, that could give me this kind of feedback? If not something like one of the following enhancements could be helpful:

  1. A new “Bright Yellow Line” enhancement could solve this issue. It would have the same slope as the red line, shifted to the left for do more goals, some number of buffer days. And like the bright red line, it could have various text alerts, info feedback in the UI, etc., which would help guide one to do whatever is necessary today to maintain a consistent number of buffer days (or perhaps just to maintain the red line’s daily slope requirement). But I also understand that this would be a huge undertaking for Beeminder.com

  2. An easier enhancement that would still be very helpful. Consider the position of the checkmark on the website, which indicates “data has been added for today”. Suppose one has a goal to do 50 of something every day. Currently, if a user enters “23”, then beeminder shows a checkmark. But instead of a checkmark, it could show a rectangle that is partially full. Or it could show “23/50”. And if one completes all 50 of their units, it could then change into a checkmark.

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A related thread from a while back:

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Hi!

Well, for a starting point, there are already a whole bunch of lines on the graph that can help guide you for this! :slight_smile: Take a look at this example, for instance:

The red line shows you the beemergency day, the yellow line in the shaded yellow area shows you one day of buffer, the blue line shows you two days of buffer, and the green line shows you’re seven days from the edge. So you could, for instance, aim to always be on the “even safer” side of that green line. You can tell how much is due for that from the “Amounts due by day” section:

image

In this case, I’m safe beyond seven days, so the due-by table doesn’t help a ton… but on this one you can see how it can be used:

image

If I want to be safe through to the green isoline, I need to add +30 units today (for a total of 284 in the entire goal).

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Thanks! The problem with those stats is that they aren’t practical on a daily basis. One can’t be digging around their stats all the time, of course. I need to be able to just scan my goals and see what needs to be done.

However, after a more careful review of the UI, there actually is some info that will give me a lot of what I want.

I think that the “amount due” can be interpreted as “the amount due today in order to maintain the same slope as the red line”? So in the above image, I need to do 2.86 minutes of cleaning, and 5 crunches in order to maintain my current slope. If I do 2 minutes of cleaning and 4 crunches, then that will be updated to 0.86 minutes and 1 crunch left to do. So I can maintain my current daily required Redline rate by paying attention there!

I still think the user interface has plenty of opportunity to provide this info better. For example, it’s missing the fact that my daily rate for crunches is 10 per day. That’s VERY important info, IMO, and would help to complete the picture.

That’s why I included the rate in my description.
But I shouldn’t have to do that, and the UI shouldn’t be encouraging people to put that kind of info in their descriptions!

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In that case, yes, that “amount due” is always “the amount you need to add by the next deadline”. So doing that will always maintain the amount of buffer you have (and exceeding it has the potential to add to your buffer).

The stats section is useful if you decide you want to get a certain goal to a certain amount of buffer per day. Say you have one day of buffer, but you want it to be safe for three more days, and you want to do all of it in one day, you’d look under the “delta” and read it off there.

Thanks for sharing your feedback about this! :slight_smile:

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I’ve thought about this some, and have come up with the following, which I haven’t fully achieved yet:

  • It’s easier, given the current tools, if we target the same buffer amount for each goal
  • A natural amount is seven days, since that’s the “no obligations” point where you have the freedom to disable the goal if you want without doing anything further
  • so it would be sufficient to somehow get to the state of having >=7d of buffer across all goals, and then set the email settings so that you get an email once you’re down to only 7 days of buffer, so then the emails you get would constitute your TODO list for that day

I’m not 100% sure this works, I haven’t tried it.

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Another natural amount is zero days. In a way, it’s a far more natural amount, and Beeminder is very good at helping you keep track of which goals are about to go under that amount (e.g. derail). It also gives the further advantage of bringing Beeminder’s main selling point close to home: if the point of Beeminder is to charge you money when you don’t live up to your goals, then you want that to be a credible fear, right? Otherwise why use Beeminder at all?

But, of course, there are many ways to use Beeminder. I guess it in part relates to the team black vs team yellow thing: if you’re more team yellow I guess there’s less point to edgeskating.

But if, at least in part, you’re using Beeminder because of its main selling point, its sting, I’d suggest giving edgeskating a try. I find it works quite well for me. I tell Beeminder how much I want to be sure to do, and Beeminder holds me exactly to it, no less. If the point of Beeminder is to buy some willpower, doesn’t it kind of miss the point to try to use your willpower to keep a self-imposed safety buffer?

It’s at least worth considering, or even just knowing that it’s an option. You really don’t have to have any amount of safety buffer—and in fact I think Beeminder is at its best when you don’t.

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Zero isn’t practical for me. I (for good reason) don’t have enough control over my near-term schedule to be confident that I wouldn’t be frequently derailing for reasons out of my control.

As it is I’ve been using beeminder very effectively for over six months and haven’t derailed once.

The sting is still useful for me, but it’s a bit more indirect.

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Sure, do what works for you! I personally find edgeskating to be quite valuable, enough so that it’s my recommendation, but I’ll admit it isn’t right for everyone. I brought it up in case you simply hadn’t considered it, and/or for others who read this thread and are instrested in alternatives.

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I wonder how well (or how badly) you or others would do if beeminder implemented a “bright yellow line”. Basically, a user definable “warning level number of buffer days”.

The fear of payment (or desire not to pay) is certainly core to the energy I put into beeminder.
But on a day to day basis, in accomplishing one’s tasks, how much does that matter vs. just getting into the routine of checking what one needs to do, and doing it just because the app says that it needs to be done?

I suppose the answer to that will decide whether you’re on team yellow (the routine is what I need) or team black (the daily threat is what I need). However, I think it’s probably more like a multivariable continuum than a dualistic team metaphor. I think a lot of people would do just fine on many of their goals (not necessarily all of them) with a customizable bright yellow line, saving up their buffer for a rainy day, vacation, or sick period.

And I might suggest (@dreev, @shanaqui) this is also why I’m happy that beeminder has a premium feature (I know you did a blog article on that). Because ideas like a bright yellow line would most likely reduce pledge revenue, and pledge revenue reducing features would be a conflict of interest in a 100% pledge based system. Or in other words, I think that including premium levels is the better business model from from an ethical standpoint, since you can include very useful features that empower people to achieve their goals, but that would also reduce pledge revenue.

But of course, this is all from the perspective of a relative newbee, one is who is giving his “armchair quarterback” two cents of thought to the matters.

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