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!