Most valuable things you've Beeminded?

When I was doing a lot of Quantified Self experiments, it turned out that I got most of the value from just two of them: 1) experientially sampling my happiness and 2) tracking my time.

What are the most valuable things you’ve Beeminded, in terms of how much impact they ended up having on your life?

My top three are probably thinking faraway thoughts, studying Chinese with Skritter, and planning my proposal to my wife.


It is really to early to tell, but my guess is blogging. I use the draft integration so I can write as much or as little as I want per post.

I have had so many blogs with the proverbial one or two posts and since I started beeminding them I now have more content for my current blog than I have for all my previous blogs combined.

I think for me it’s the “must do’s”. Just the feeling of clearing away these silly things that usually sit on my to-do list until they become crises or irrelevant is uplifting for me.

Second would probably be pushups. And my third would be tracking the number of 20 minute pomodoros I complete at work.

My most valuable Beeminder is categorizing voice messages. I record audio notes on my phone whenever inspiration hits. This would result in massive queues of entirely unactionable audio notes if I didn’t then have Beeminder’s stinger right behind me. I’m still catching up on about a year worth of these notes.

I then have a still newish goal that makes me do todos from my todo list category. I am debating on whether I should transcribe them and move them to a proper todo list application (my favorite being TickTick). This system doesn’t really work for more urgent tasks, so it does need a bit of work.

For me it’s almost certainly my “read non fiction books” goal. It’s gone through a variety of incarnations but these days it’s a tagtime goal for the anount of time I spend doing it.

It’s impressive the degree to which it’s changed my behaviour. I’ve a bad habit of buying books because they seem interesting and then not reading them and these days that’s almost entirely gone and I’ve learned some important things as a result.


As we’ve talked about endlessly on the blog, beeminding Beeminder has been pretty epic. I recommend this version of the story of how we made 1000 User-Visible Improvements to Beeminder, then had to cough up $1000 a couple weeks later for missing one, but it was so worth it that we kept right on going.

We’re now at 1336 UVIs and counting.

(Of course we beemind Beeminder in myriad ways, like the time we spend working on it, blog posts, using it as a platform for science, and even (very gradually) open-sourcing the code.)


Getting in touch with someone I want to stay in touch (anyone - it’s not just person :slight_smile: ) with has probably been the most valuable thing I’ve beeminded. It’s a high value activity, that I don’t do anywhere near as often as I’d like, and beeminder seems like the perfect way to actualise that intention.


A few that have really helped.

Beeminding Tomatoes from the Pomodoro Technique
Beeminding my scariest task from my top projects each day.
Beeminding staying in touch with contacts using contactually.
Beeminding my blogging and guest posts.

I really like the idea of beeminding reading, may start that soon.


Can you explain a bit more about how your Contactually Beeminder works?

I use Zapier to add 1 to my Beeminder goal whenever I do a followup. I try to do 3 a day( right now, I’ve actually gotten ahead of my contact list, so I’m networking to fill it up :).)

1 Like

Sleep hygiene [1] has been the most valueable thing for me because it guarantees I am mentally alert. The most important component is a regular bedtime and waking schedule. Sleep duration becomes a natural consequence that does not need a separate bee-goal.

I believe most people quantify their bedtime goal the wrong way. They sum up the total bedtime delay and beemind that number. That leads to unintended consequences: If you’re late exactly 30 minutes every day, you’re maintaining perfect sleep hygiene. If you stay up late (or sleep in) every other day, you’re actively confusing your body’s sleep cycle. But both lead to the same average delay.

A better idea is to beemind how much each day’s bedtime phase-advances or phase-delays your circadian rhythm. The phase response curve can be found here [2]. (See also the phase response curves for the influence of light [3] and melation [3] and regular mealtimes [4]. They add up [5].) So ideally, you would take the absolute value of the difference between the day’s bedtime and the average past bedtime, sum that up over all days, and beemind the total as a do-less goal.


[2] and also (green line in Figure Circadian and homeostatic sleepiness.)


[4] M. Ángeles-Castellanos, J. M. Amaya, R. Salgado-Delgado,
R. M. Buijs, and C. Escobar: Scheduled Food Hastens Re-Entrainment More Than Melatonin Does after a 6-h Phase Advance of the Light-Dark Cycle in Rats

[5] Paul et al.: Phase advance with separate and combined melatonin and light treatment


I’m not sure about this. I’ve tried to Beemind high-impact things directly, and have failed a lot of the time, probably because I didn’t fully analyze the factors in my control, wasn’t systematic enough. I now have some new models that have been helping a lot recently, so I’m going to try again soon.

Meanwhile, the goals I’m most satisfied with are not inherently high-impact. Making sure I’ve gotten an average of 1000 minutes of Japanese audio exposure per week hasn’t gotten me a better job, caused me to drop bodyfat, or helped me make a dent my debts. But, among other things, it makes for a very strong, persistent core of any success spiral. I could be half dead, lying in the mud on December 21st, but will find strength claw my way upright if I can first put on those headphones and send 21 24 "onsei:宇宙兄弟 43" to the SMS bot.

Second place has been bedtime, but that doesn’t make for as good as a story, and I originally started Beeminding it with a bizzare point system. I’m planning on starting fresh soon.

A better idea is to beemind how much each day's bedtime phase-advances or phase-delays your circadian rhythm.

Could you explain that in less nerdish way? I would really appreciate that.
I use SleepDroid and how can I use it to obtain data you mentioned?


@romanroman there’s a slightly less nerdish prescription in the middle of @tjb’s post:

My rough reading of his argument is that [for many reasons] consistency is worth more than absolute time. So instead of comparing your actual bedtime to a target of, say, 10pm, compare your actual bedtime to your historical average actual bedtime.

Presumably best measured in a time system that doesn’t arbitrarily jump forward or back during the year. e.g. GMT/UTC without regard for daylight savings.

1 Like

Thanks, that’s what it boils down to. You can improve a bit with strategic exposure to bright light, melatonin, etc.

I (used to) track bed time manually. If you can get the data out of sleepdroid, I’m sure you can cook up an Excel spreadsheet or a Python/Haskell/Java/… script to do the computations for you.


Are you able to link to an actual beeminder goal that does what you propose here? I’m very interested as I have a serious sleep disorder that prevents me from reaching a lot of goals. I agree with you about the uselessness of beeminding bedtimes and waking times - the crucial factor is bedtime/waketime ‘volatility’.

Would you mind sharing some more info about your faraway thoughts goal?

I pretty much can’t get myself to think about anything that is in the past or future unless I really try, so this is me really trying: I have to pop open my 750Words and write at least a little bit about something I wouldn’t normally think about. Sometimes this is still something in the present, but it’s a reflection on an area that I wouldn’t normally think about.

Some random examples of thinks that started as faraway thoughts from the past couple weeks:

  • “Man, I had to sit in an uncomfortable chair and listen to someone talk for more than 40 minutes. Wait, how did I possibly survive high school, again?” reflecting on high school and being in classes
  • “Let me think about… super far future!” -> getting morose about how there will be virtually no stars left within the reachable universe in ~120 trillion years
  • Thinking about more plot details for a novel I had a dream about a year ago
  • “What am I not doing that I should be doing these days?” -> hanging out