metagoal - too many/too few


I was wondering if anyone has any thoughts on what to do about “clumpiness”. So i have a number of goals with different schedules. Some days are “moderate” where i have a reasonable number of things to do, some days are easy, and some days i have way too many goals that need work and i find im basically just doing some token amount of work on them so i don’t derail. it would be great if there was some way to “even” out the workload - but i don’t really see how. i suppose i could make some kind of “metagoal” smoother (metaweasel!) which would be some kind of do-less goal where i get a magic “pass” say once a week on some number of goals. seems dangerous though!

i’d be glad for any thoughts


I try to keep all my goals at 7 days safety buffer. Apart from of course just working on ones with less buffer than that, I also look ahead a few days to see the goals coming up to 7 days buffer (usually the ones with 8, 9, or maybe 10 days buffer), and just visually spot clumps of goals all of which have the same safety buffer. Then as well as working on goals whose safety buffer is 7 or lower, I also I try to whittle down those future clumps a bit so I don’t have 5 goals all getting to 7 days buffer all on the same day.

Caveat: I’m using my own software instead of beeminder, but I assume somewhere in beeminder there’s a view where you can do that (can somebody confirm?).

In practice, at the moment I have about 40 active goals (I’m surprised it’s that many! would have guessed 20), of which typically at the end of a day I have something like 5 goals under 7 days – hopefully not by too much – and a few clumps of days coming up where say between 2 and 5 goals are all at 8 days of safety buffer, or all at 9 days, or all at 10 days. Hopefully by the time it gets to 8 days it’s more like 2 or 3 rather than 5.

Today I’m doing terribly, not too many under 7 days but they’re mostly close to derail :frowning: And two clumps of 4 coming down the pipe.

Of course doing this I do tend to leave the more time-consuming tasks until later. I have a plan to add a visualisation help with that, as yet still unimplemented but slowly making progress… Even without that, just reducing the number of tasks “arriving” at 7 days I think is helpful: just actually doing all the very small and easy tasks I want/need to do rather than letting them pile up and fall on my head on the same day – or not get done at all – is a significant part of beeminder for me.

That is a great idea… I’ve added a do-more goal to do extra goals that aren’t on the edge which will create the buffer, i think it should work. I don’t see any way to see the clumps upcoming in normal beeminder. i guess one can see the large red/yellow/blue/green background border around the goal on the webpage/app as a sort of indication of upcoming clumps. do you have an example of your view that lets you look ahead for clumps?

Thanks a lot!

It’s very simple:

- Do task marked next from list: 1 repeats due in 6 days (Mon)
- Exercise: 1 repeats due in 7 days (Tue)
- Read more days: 1 repeats due in 7 days (Tue)
- Incoming task zero: 1 repeats due in 7 days (Tue)

I happened to pick out a snippet there of my report’s output that shows a clump of 3 goals all at 7 days, but what I’m talking about here is looking ahead at the ones at 8/9/10 days for me (because I try to keep goals at 7 days or higher buffer).

Ah now I remember quite a few of my 40 goals are “aggday” goals that take existing goal + data and make a synthetic “do more” goal that tracks if I’m working enough days on some task as well as enough repeats/time – I guess that goes some way to explain why there’s so many more than I thought I had!

Another thing you might try is using goal waterfalls, which is basically the idea of staggering your deadlines throughout the day instead of them all being due at the same time. That can help with being able to manage everything when all your goals randomly come due at the same time, but it doesn’t directly address the issue of everything being due one day and nothing being due the next.

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So at one point I set up a schedule so I had alternating days, A days and B days, and the A goals were due on the A days and the B goals were due on the B days. Then I set my rate to once every two days, so the A goals were beemergencies on the A days, and same for the B goals.

You just have to set your mercy days correctly so it doesn’t get messed up when you miss one.

You could do a more elaborate version of this for your goal schedules - schedule everything out so your workload is even, and then set your beeminder rates to make it work.

You can sort your dashboard by duedate and scroll down to the 7 days part, or use the phone widget that lists goals by due date (I think this widget is only available on Android).

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that’s a great idea narthur. so for the elaborate version, if you have some goals that you want spaced out evenly over say n days, then you can have 1/n of them due on day 1, 1/n on day 2, etc up to day n-1. then you set their rate to 1 per n days, and mercy days to some multiple of n, so if you miss a goal it will end up in its slot again.

Yeah but I think you need the number of mercy days to be a multiple of n plus 1 for some reason, or minus 1, I forget which