Beeminder Forum

Max's beeminder journal


While the 1st Jan is a shelling point, “try the habit change as soon as you think of it” is another shelling point. The “immediately” one chose seems more natural and better. (If we were picking a date from scratch, I would personally prefer the lunar new year, since it also has connotations of spring-time, renewal, etc., but the 1st Jan is culturally well established already)

Obviously this doesn’t apply to people who are not thinking about how to improve their habits all the time. For me and other productivity nerds (ie. people reading this post), we don’t need the push of the 1st Jan to look at our lives and decide on things to change. We don’t need the ritual to stick to the habit either, for that we have beeminder! For people who do need this push, I would agree that having the ritual of the 1st Jan is beneficial.

I am actually very pro-ritual (see my thoughts of Marie Kondo above in this thread), but I’d prefer putting on a cowl and sacrificing a cucumber in a candle-lit room whenever I add a new goal, since that doesn’t require me to wait up to 12 months before I get to make the change!

Of course, it is only a few days to the 1st Jan right now, so why not make use of the ritual now? Well, because that would require breaking my existing shelling fence of ‘immediately’, which I do not want to do. For people without this shelling fence in place, then I agree that it would be silly to ignore the power of the ritual of the 1st Jan (but I would also suggest making your new year resolution a habit of making and breaking habits).

Happy new year beeminder users, and thank you beeminder for giving me an alternative to the ritualistic motivational power of the 1st of Jan.


The downside of temporal landmarks, particularly January 1st, is the cultural expectation that you will fail to keep your resolutions and build lasting habits.


I just noticed that it has been 1 year since this goal started:

The graph looks rather good apart from the unfortunate blip in the middle there.

My goals back then were:

  • wake up on time
  • write a daily plan each morning
  • do 6 work pomodoros a day
  • write 400 words/day on my novel
  • eat a frugal lunch
  • do a must-do task specified the day before
  • take vitamins
  • chinese reading
  • write beeminder journal

Exactly one of these has survived the year, the journal goal!

The current menagerie is

  • floss daily
  • think of 3 ideas a day (projects, buisnesses, etc.)
  • study anki
  • take supplements (similar to the vitamin one)
  • delete from pocket
  • read from pocket
  • pack lunch (much better than the frugal lunch goal)
  • clear the work todo list
  • clear the home todo list
  • make a metaculus prediction
  • read
  • write beeminder journal!

I rely quite heavily on the ‘home todo list’ goal for lot of things that could otherwise be separate beeminder goals, for example ‘clean the bathroom’ is a weekly todo list item, but it could also be a goal. I still go back and forwards on which things should be tracked where, but I prefer beeminder for things where the concept of a buffer makes sense (ie. it would not be useful to clean the bathroom twice in a day and then skip the next week).

Improvements made to my goals have included

  • making sure that I can save an emergency on the day it occurs (for example, frugal lunch was bad because it required me to prep the lunch the day before, therefore an ‘orange’ day was really a ‘red’ day). This allows me to tune out the green/blue goals, which makes beeminder usage much more relaxing. This also implies that goals are split down properly, so ‘write 400 words/day’ not ‘write 1 novel/year’, but this is a central part of the idea of beeminder, so I think most people do this anyway
  • for goals I want to do daily, making the slope very close to 7/week (if I do not do this, then it is harder to make the goal into a habit, as I can skip it every few days, better to make it 6.5/week than 5/week, even though the second looks more achievable)
  • moving from must-do to ‘clear todo list’ (I am glad I started with must-do, since it gave me the habit of doing that one important thing every day, however much I disliked the task, it built my discipline. Moving to ‘clear the todo list’ has just expanded the concept and allows me to schedule multiple things a day and be relatively confident they will get done. This is my favorite goal, and worth a lot to me.

My 2019 theme builds on the last point. I want to improve my execution. I feel the main thing holding myself back right now is myself. Issues include

  • not showing my work to anyone (I write things, but do not tell anyone about them, because I want to avoid criticism)
  • not completing projects (losing motivation, not wanting to do the boring final 20% of the project, wanting to avoid criticism again – if it is not complete, then I don’t have to show it!)
  • being reactive (have gotten better at doing things I need to do, but still bad at doing the important tasks that have no external deadline. I have lots of things on my task backlog, but I don’t put them on my todo list)

I am not sure yet how I will tackle these. Maybe some goal around project completion, or separate goals for important projects.

I definitely need a goal around writing, and PUBLISHING that writing, and SHARING that writing.

As a downpayment to myself, I will leave a link to some recent rantings around moral nihilism hidden at the bottom of this post.


New Goal

I’ve been meaning to add this goal for a while. I have been putting it off to avoid giving myself yet another thing to do!

I read quite a few articles in pocket (1.5 a day thanks to beeminder). I forget most of them.

For books, I highlight and take notes while I read. I go back through those notes and write a review.
(Recently I have started going back through those notes yet again to pull out ideas and add them to a personal wiki).
I wanted something similar for the few articles that are worth the trouble, so I have added a new goal to go through the articles I have starred in pocket and write up notes for those as well.

I want to start reading through some interesting papers again at some point, and do the same, since that used to be a very useful beeminder goal, but I think that would result in derailment and tears.


No changes on my goals this week. I have started putting together something to get me writing and publishing more, may add some goals in the next couple of weeks!


Unfortunately my ‘todo-home’ task died. I had a full and productive day, did many useful things, but failed to do the ones on my todo list.

I have quickly retroratcheted today, since without that goal forcing me into action it has now been three days since I last cleared my todo list.

It is lucky I don’t have goals for feeding myself, or derailment might be fatal.


I’ve been wanting to do some more writing, and have put together a set of ideas, some notes, etc. and got quite excited about it. I noticed last week that I haven’t actually written anything yet though, so I added a goal to spend 10min/day on writing/editing/research and some progress is now being made.

I didn’t want a goal of just ‘publish once a month’ because I would inevitably wait until the last two days to start.


The writing goal has been successful. As well as writing for at least 10 mins a day, I also find myself thinking of ideas throughout the day due to having the topic always in the back of my mind.

I do seem to be falling into the habit of writing exactly 10mins and skating the line, instead of doing longer 30 minute sessions twice a week for example, which would be more sufficient. I think I will need a secondary goal of ‘publish the damn article’ to make sure I don’t noodle around on it endlessly.


Bad websites

I’ve been back-sliding a little when it comes to banning time wasting websites, as I mentioned in Narthur’s journal:

On android I use Blockada for ad-blocking and also blocking youtube, reddit and hackernews. I find that the more I restrict “bad” time usage, the easier it is to do well on my other goals (for example reading tends to expand to fill that space). I have actually been struggling a bit with the site blocking recently, finding myself turning off blockada to check youtube now and then. I’ve put it in a folder called “please don’t” and added password protection, but this doesn’t seem enough. I am considering asking my partner to change the password and not tell me unless I can give a good reason.

I need to increase the friction a lot to fix this, and my having to convince my partner will definitely achieve that…


I have reduced my pocket deletion and reading goals slightly, as I felt like I was spending too much time there. I’ll see how it affects the backlog in a month or so.


I’ve been making a few changes to my project management / todo processes (the annual ritual of changing to some different process, which will probably help short term, but make no different long term, oh well. It is less and less frequent, maybe this is the last time!) and have paused my todo-work goal in the meantime, as it has felt stressful without being useful recently. Too much urgent work preventing planned work from being done, but I do not want to penalise myself as long as I made the correct prioritisation in those cases. Needs more thought.

I’m not touching my home-todo goal, because I can barely function without it.


I have added a meta-goal for my write-article goal, which is to actually publish something. It comes due on Sunday, so I am looking forward to a last-minute crazed editing session. I set up an IFTTT trigger based on the RSS feed that will be updated on publishing, so I can’t weasel out of it.



I have archived my ‘think of 3 ideas a day’ goal for a while. It has been a great goal, generating a lot of ideas, but I need some time now to work on implementing the (few) decent ones!


My productivity system fiddling continues. I’ve got everything mostly set up, and am working out how I’ll be structuring goals for both work and home tasks. Should have everything worked out by next week.

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Well done for journaling for over a year. I was wondering if you had one overarching goal? Like what is your most important long term goal? One or two things?

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Well done for journaling for over a year. I was wondering if you had one overarching goal? Like what is your most important long term goal? One or two things?

No, not really. I think I have a direction that I’m moving in, but there is no big audacious goal to work toward. I’m more of a processes person than a goal person, although I do think I would be more effective if I hard clearer targets.

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Extreme friction

I am now unable to visit certain websites on my phone (youtube is the big one) thanks to blockada and a custom blacklist. I have locked the app and my partner set the password, so if I want to go on youtube, I have to ask her to unlock it for me, and I must give a “good reason”. In practice, it is sort of embarassing to say “could you unlock youtube for me because I’m bored”, so I haven’t done so yet. Great success.

New goals around personal productivity

I have beem playing with some new ways of handling my todo list. Instead of my old system (+1 to my ‘todo-home’ goal if I clear the todo list for that day, so the day before I schedule things I need to get done), I was playing with having a selection of next actions, and requiring 2 of those be done each day (as well as clearing any scheduled tasks). I immediately found myself focusing on the more pleasant tasks and ignoring some important but hard ones. It also made my objective less clear, instead of knowing “clear the list and I’m DONE”, I have to remember how many next actions to do, and clear the list, and make sure there will be enough completable next actions for tomorrow etc.

I’ve killed the ‘next action’ goal and am going back to just scheduling everything for now, although I might play with some more ideas while I’m still getting the new system worked out.

I’ve got quite a lot of stuff to get done right now, so I can’t afford to fiddle around for too long!


No change in my goals this week. Making my partner pick the password to the website-blocker on my phone is working great. I’ve not used the banned websites at all since she set the password, and have been doing slightly more productive things instead!


Website blocking

In addition to still having youtube etc. blocked on my phone, I’ve started using strict workflow on chrome to block slack and email when I’m in a work pomodoro. I’m not currently using pomodoros strictly (although I have in the past, and enjoy them), but have found myself very unfocused recently, constantly checking emails and slack messages, bringing down my productivity. Blocking those websites during the pomodoro is helping, and should break the habit over time.


No changes in goals this week. It has been very busy and I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed some days, even though none of my goals are particularily challenging right now. I will try and find some time over the weekend to build a bit of a buffer so I can have a rest day on some of the goals during next week.


I posted in a different thread this week, since the topic seemed relevant to what I was thinking of writing anyway: Ideas on money in beeminder


I once again failed to enter data for my flossing and supplement goals, despite having done the tasks, and got stung. I have already requested these goals be un-derailed a number of times, and could not bring myself to do so again.
This is despite getting my phone to beep loudly at me for any beeminder notifications after 6pm. I still managed to forget!

I think the fact I was forgetting this so much points to an issue with the goals. I did not care about them anymore.

I have set them to archive for now. I am considering a few options:

  • Set the due time to mid-day, so I have to complete them in the morning, and will be less likely to forget (however, I am used to everything being due at 2am, so may be more likely to forget, especially on days when I’m far from my phone all morning)
  • Try to train myself to associate flossing/supplements with an existing habit (brushing teeth is the obvious one)
  • Do the same, and have a goal for the whole ‘evening ritual’ while I build the association

I’m leaning toward the second right now, reintroducing a goal if necessary. I think the problem was that I tended to do it anyway, so was not paying much attention to the goal, and it became just something to tick off in the evening, yet it wasn’t quite a firm habit yet, so I still ended up in the red sometimes.


Today has been entirely filled with work. I think I am going to just about manage to tick off all the red goals but one before I fall unconscious. It is only 5$ and right now I would happily pay much more than that to be able to just lie down and close my eyes.

As always, this reminds me ‘treat yellow as red’ and stay on top of things, because there will always be a few days where you just don’t have enough time to get everything done.


Two new goals this week:

  • Shave (shave regularly). Recently I have been neglecting this, and keep oscillating between a short, ratty beard and shaved. I prefer how I feel when I stick to stubbly most days. Small quality of life improvement goal.
  • Stretching. I’ve not been able to run for a number of months now, and as such, my body gets put through less range of motion, and I have fallen out of the habit of rolling out my legs in the evening. The goal is for 15 minutes of stretching a day, I have a rough routine I used to go through that should get my body feeling more resilient.