Narthur's Beeminder Journal

I was inspired by Dreev’s brainstorming in the New Year’s Resolutions thread to try to figure out how to beemind keeping in touch with friends.

The idea in the thread was to use neglect minding:

I decided not to use neglect-minding directly since:

1. I don’t like do-less goals.
2. Using beemind.me to do it seemed like I could just edit the Trello card to avoid a derail instead of actually contacting someone.

So I decided to flip it on its head:

1. Keep track of the date of last contact for each person.
2. Assign a target interval for each contact.
3. Calculate a priority metric for each contact by subtracting the current interval from the target interval.
4. Assign point values for Text, Email, IRL, and Phone contacts by adding MAX(Priority, 0) to a base value for each type of interaction.
5. Beemind earning these points using a standard do-more Beeminder goal.

I’m using AirTable to keep track:

Couple more notes:

1. I’m using weeks as my unit of measure for Target and Current intervals.
2. I’m sorting first by priority descending, second by target ascending.
3. Interaction point values are being coerced to integers.
4. Currently, if there is no date of Last Contact, the Current interval is assumed to be the same as the Target interval. This seems good enough for now.
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What parts of your goal to keep in touch with friends are automated and what parts are manual?

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The calculations inside the spreadsheet are “automated,” in that they’re using formulas, but I have to enter the date of last contact manually, and also enter the data points into Beeminder manually. Even though AirTable has a good API, I don’t know how you’d automate this further since I’m minding quite a few different types of interactions that would be hard to pull in.

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I’m really liking tracking my work time via pomodoros. It’s a drastic simplification compared to my previous process, which means there is much less maintenance required. Also, dedicating each pomodoro to a specific task means I’m able to engage in something closer to deep work much more frequently.

I’m facing two problems with the system so far:

• I’ve found myself procrastinating between pomodoros, resulting in me being in a time crunch later on in the day. I’m thinking about setting break timers in addition to the work timers as a way to combat that. We’ll see how it goes.
• I have two worktime pomodoro goals, one for my day job and one for TaskRatchet. Ideally, the TaskRatchet goal would only keep me on the hook on Friday, and my day job goal would only keep me on the hook for the remaining work days. Unfortunately, Beeminder doesn’t have the ability to configure goals based on weekday outside of weekend breaks, so I’ve been trying to do more than my day job goal requires throughout the week to build up enough buffer to have Friday for TaskRatchet. This takes a lot of discipline, and I’ve only had moderate success with it. Wondering if I should code something up to schedule the breaks for me.
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I’ve started setting break timers, as well, which seems to be helping with the procrastination problem between pomodoros.

In addition, I’ve also started completely closing all windows and shutting down the computer at the end of the work day, which results in me returning to a blank slate the next day, which helps me be more consistent with my startup routine, and helps minimize day-start procrastination.

I have a script that runs every Monday morning and emails me and my boss a summary of the tasks I worked on in the previous week based on the comments on my pomodoro data points.

How the routine looks so far:

• Day Start
• Power on computer
• Fill water bottle
• Clear desk
• Do short breathing exercise
• Review personal purpose statement
• Pomodoro Cycle
• Pomodoro
• Enter 0 data point in appropriate *-poms goal with the name of the task as the comment
• Set a work timer for 25 minutes on my Echo Dot
• Immediately set a break timer for 30 minutes on my Echo Dot
• Work on task for the remainder of the pomodoro
• If I complete the task before time, use the remaining time to improve what I did and/or review learning material related to the task I completed (Lynda.com, a YouTube video, an article, documentation, etc)
• When the work timer goes off, change the data point’s value to a 1
• Break
• Get up and walk out of the room, stretch
• Fill my water bottle if needed, go to the bathroom, etc
• Take care of any distractions that came up during the previous pomodoro
• Clear windows and tabs related to previous task, if switching tasks
• Check email, Slack, closing before I start the new pomodoro unless needed for the task
• Day End
• Clear tabs, close windows, and shut down computer

So far, this new process feels like a win in several ways:

• I feel better able to focus deeply on a single task.
• I feel less anxious and overwhelmed about everything that needs to be done.
• The system regularly nudges me towards learning more about the tasks I often work on.
• I’m more consistent with getting out of my chair and resting my eyes.
• I’m more consistent with checking Slack and communicating.
• I’m spending far less time maintaining the system than I did with my previous system.
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Good luck with the pomodoros! I’ve been on and off of them. It’s definitely a love hate relationship.
So far I found exactly one activity to do in my 5 minute break that works really really well, and that is to play one level of Contraption Maker. It keeps my mind engaged without providing any distracting elements.

I’d like to learn more about the personal purpose statement. What is it and maybe more importantly: Why is it? Sorry if you addressed that earlier in this thread

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I was thinking about how to change my system while listening to the book Peak Performance. Section 3 of the book focuses on the idea that having a purpose that transcends yourself can help you to be more effective and put more effort into your work while avoiding fatigue and burnout. This was what prompted me to attempt developing my own purpose statement and to include it in my work start routine. (This summary of the book seems fairly thorough–search for “purpose” to find his notes on the relevant section.)

Here’s the current form of my statement:

Always seeing opportunity and human potential, I will seek to become more than I was yesterday, developing world-class expertise in my field while giving back to my community with gratitude.

Build skill with optimism and gratitude.

That second line is meant to be a tiny version of the statement that is easier to remember and repeat.

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Well, my weight loss goal just got real today. A while back I retroratcheted the goal to where it would start applying some pressure. And over this weekend I was away from home, and thus didn’t weigh myself daily. In addition, I ate supper twice, which tends to result in weight gain for me. So today I get to lose 1.7 pounds. (My goal rate is only -0.5 pounds per week.)

Is this possible? Guess I’m going to find out. I’ll be fasting the whole day today. I’ve already been to the gym this morning, and I expect I may be back before the end of the day. Wish me luck.

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I managed to meet my weight goal!

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I find pomadoros seem to work well for me when I basically know what I need to do. When it’s something harder in the sense of a less clear goal or a less clear path from A to B – more guesswork, harder thinking, things I’m less familiar with, etc. – they just seem to get in the way.

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I’ve gone ahead and archived my /social goal. It was over-complicated. Having to visit AirTable to use the goal added too much friction. And the highly-variable datapoint magnitudes made the goal hard to reason about.

I’ve replaced it with /outer-sms, a goal that will have me sending at least one text most days to someone other than my wife. We’ll see whether or not I like this goal better.

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In the last 10 days I’ve lost about 6 pounds, which is definitely not the rate I’m going for long-term, but it prompted me to up my weekly rate from 0.5 pounds / week to 1 pound per week, which is still within the CDC’s recommendations of 1 to 2 pounds per week.

I’ve also added a goal to create TaskRatchet goals for myself, now that the project is at a point where it’s practical for me to use it.

I did have a UVIs-type goal for my day job, to add entries to a done list that my boss has access to, but it really hasn’t been working very well for me. I’m not sure how to fix that. I’d like to be consistent in keeping a list of everything I accomplish, but when I’m in the zone working to accomplish a larger task I resist taking the time to articulate what I’ve completed so far. If anyone has any tips on how to make this work better, I’d really love to hear them. For now I’ve scheduled the goal for archival.

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Using the break setting tool, I accidentally set breaks for a bunch of goals for a whole week, since I clicked “save” forgetting I hadn’t yet pasted in the real date. Oops.

I’m looking at this as an unplanned experiment. What changes if I don’t have these goals for a week? Some of them I’m pretty sure I’ll fix pretty quickly, but maybe I’ll find I don’t miss some others.

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I’ve also decided to replace all my ynab-* goals with one ynab-all goal that will have me reconciling all YNAB account once or twice a week. The hope is that it will reduce the amount of maintenance work associated with all the separate Beeminder goals and help me to better block my time. We’ll see how it goes.

Today I split ynab-all into ynab-family and ynab-nathan–the first is for reconciling our family budget, the second is for reconciling my self-employment / business budget.

I also went ahead and split my upgrades goal into seven separate upgrade-* goals, one for each major area of my life.

I’ve been playing around with Android Automate, and I’ve liked it so much that I’ve gone ahead and payed the ~\$4 to get premium. The free version is pretty limited in how many flows / blocks you can have running at a time.

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I’m trying a potential solution to this. I manage all my work tasks in Workflowy. Workflowy has a feature that will email me a daily summary of changes to my lists. I’ve enabled this feature, and will be going through these emails and pulling out “UVI’s” to add to my done list document when I do my normal email processing, which I also beemind.

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Using Workflowy summary emails to populate my done list has been working great. The friction to adding another item in Workflowy and then immediately checking it off, knowing it will then appear in my summary email, is way lower than having to pull up my done document and edit that. Also, this system encourages me to be a bit more thorough planning my work ahead of time.

I just added a new Beeminder goal for scheduling Friday breaks for my day job. (They’re only open Monday through Thursday.) This is the workaround to not being able to customize weekend breaks to include Fridays, and it seems like it shouldn’t be that much work to keep up with. I’ve given it an effective rate of 1 per week, but I expect to create 3 or 4 breaks every time I add a datapoint, so I should get ahead super quickly.

I’ve been dog-fooding TaskRatchet, and loving it! Being able to take that one nagging task I know I need to do but don’t have a clear plan to make it happen and plop it into TaskRatchet is such a satisfyingly stress-relieving action. And that’s in spite of how incredibly rough the product currently is! So I’m feeling pretty optimistic about the future of the product once I’m able to actually get it semi-polished. Also, my wife, who has definitely not been a monetary-commitment-contracts kind of person, has started using it, and likes it!

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Just modified my Android Automate flow that posts to my /sms goal to set the value for each data point to the number of different people I’ve texted that day. That way I’m encouraged to text different people throughout the day. I’ve set the Beeminder goal to use the max aggday function. Here’s a screenshot of the flow. If you want more details, let me know and I’ll be happy to share.

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I’m really enjoying having my /sms goal count recipients. I’ve upped my commitment to 2.5 recipients / day.

I’ve also found that combining my ynab account reconciliation goals into ynab-family for the shared budget and ynab-nathan for my business budget has made the process of reconciliation much more efficient–basically the benefits of time blocking.

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Had a bunch of beemergencies today, including weight, which meant I fasted today. Derailed on two goals today (not weight), one of which I’m going to be calling non-legit on. So, considering how hard Beeminder made me work today, I think I’m calling that a success.

Several of these beemurgencies were significantly more difficult than they would have been because of the week-long break I scheduled on a bunch of them a while back. Inbox-clearing goals become more difficult the longer I go between satisfying them. I don’t really like that fact, but I’m willing to live with it given how well my inbox clearing goals otherwise work for me.

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