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Narthur's Beeminder Journal

Update 2019-10-02

So far I’ve replaced two *-time goals with *-blocks goals, the idea being that, for the new type of goal, I have to do x minutes to be able to register a 1, and decimal data points aren’t allowed. These are integery goals. For both goals so far I’ve defined a 1 as completing a 30 minute block of task X. This is for the purpose of combating the attention fragmentation resulting from Beeminder asking me to do 2 minutes of this and 3 minutes of that every day, when it would be more effective to do a larger block of the activity once a week (or less).

Also, Fabriq is cool.

Summary

Key Value
Number of goals 30
New goals this week 2
Goals scheduled for archive 0
Newest goal todo-blocks (2019-10-02)
Oldest goal worktime (2018-06-05)
Highest pledge worktime ($30.0)
Total pledges $173.0
Derails this week 0
Systems upgrades this week 0

Random Goal: vivo-steps

It’s a tracking goal, records the number of steps I take via my Garmin Vivofit 3. I’ve almost archived it so many times… But it’s not hurting anything to keep it.

New Goals

  • av-wp8-time: Created 2019-09-27. New contract, new time goal.
  • todo-blocks: Created 2019-10-02. This is replacing my old todo-time goal. I’ve given it a lot of extra buffer so I don’t have to think about it for a while.

A skeleton of this summary was generated using a Python script and then carefully filled in by hand.

Update 2019-10-22

My wife and I have been getting up at 5:30am and going to the gym 6 days a week. It’s been tough, but I think I may be starting to get used to it.

Summary

Key Value
Number of goals 31
New goals this week 1
Goals scheduled for archive 0
Newest goal skipped-suppers (2019-10-16)
Oldest goal worktime (2018-06-05)
Highest pledge tr-time ($30.0)
Total pledges $189.0
Derails this week 1
Systems upgrades this week 0

Random Goal: upgrades

This is the goal that replaced all the separate categorized upgrade goals (like finance-upgrades, community-upgrades, etc). I think these goals are more effective separately, but combining them is a compromise while I focus on my health.

New Goals

  • skipped-suppers: Created 2019-10-16. My doctor advised that I lose weight. This is another supporting goal for that outcome. I get to input a 1 when I skip a supper.

Derails

  • av-updates: 2019-10-21. I forgot when the deadline was. Oops.

A skeleton of this summary was generated using a Python script and then carefully filled in by hand.

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Update 2019-10-31

Summary

Key Value
Number of goals 31
New goals this week 0
Goals scheduled for archive 2
Newest goal skipped-suppers (2019-10-16)
Oldest goal worktime (2018-06-05)
Highest pledge tr-time ($30.0)
Total pledges $193.0
Derails this week 1
Systems upgrades this week 0

Random Goal: pills

This goal has been for the purpose of ensuring I take my pills. But I’ve been so detailed with my data entry that it’s been hard to keep up with. Now that I’m taking pills every day at breakfast, I’m going to try going without the goal, so it’s scheduled for archive.

Derails

  • av-wp8-time: 2019-10-30. I had other work that needed done, so by the time I got back to this contract, the amount of time I needed to satisfy the goal was more than the remaining time until the deadline, so the derail was unavoidable.

Scheduled for Archive

  • pills: As mentioned above, this goal has become tedious to keep up with. I’m going to see how well I do without it.
  • tr-time: I’m going to attempt to shift my work schedule such that I can dedicate Fridays to TaskRatchet. I’m not 100% sure how I’m going to keep myself on the new schedule, but the first step is to archive this goal which would prevent me from making the change.

A skeleton of this summary was generated using a Python script and then carefully filled in by hand.

Update 2019-11-11

Summary

Key Value
Number of goals 34
New goals this week 6
Goals scheduled for archive 0
Newest goal ynab-savings (2019-11-10)
Oldest goal worktime (2018-06-05)
Highest pledge worktime ($30.0)
Total pledges $162.0
Derails this week 0
Systems upgrades this week 0

Random Goal: apt-filter

This goal makes sure I change the filter on our apartment’s central cooling system as required by our landlord.

New Goals

  • burndown: Created 2019-11-05. This goal is for the purpose of keeping me accountable to create real progress for my new employer now that I’m not contracting full-time. I’m pretty excited about the new strategy, but don’t have time to elaborate now since I’m in the middle of some beemurgencies. If you would like me to explain more, ask in this thread. :wink:
  • av-email-zero: Created 2019-11-05. A goal to ensure I’m staying on top of email at my new job.

The following goals are all for the purpose of helping me stay consistent with reconciling our YNAB budget accounts. My last ynab goal was far too vague as to which accounts I needed to reconcile to add a data point. Breaking the goal into multiple per-account should fix the issue.

A skeleton of this summary was generated using a Python script and then carefully filled in by hand.

Update 2019-11-20

Tasker

Today I made a couple upgrades to my Tasker profiles. I modified my gym profile to wait for an hour and fifteen minutes before posting a datapoint to my shower goal, since, if we’ve left before that amount of time has elapsed, we haven’t taken showers at the gym.

I also revisited my last attempt at creating a Tasker profile to automatically lock my phone after 3 minutes of use. The original idea was to only have it do this in the evenings, say, after 7pm. Currently it’s doing it all day. I’m pretty sure I’ll end up modifying it to only be active in the evenings as originally planned, but, in the meantime, I’m viewing it as an experiment to see how long I can go with the restriction in effect 24/7.

Burndown Metric

I’m still working on shifting my processes to support me as a salaried employee vs a contractor. As a contractor, even though all my contracts were fixed bid, I’d still track myself based on hours worked. Since becoming an employee again, I’ve created an algorithm that posts to a /burndown goal the number of estimated hours I’ve completed rather than the number of hours I literally worked.

It’s a little bit complicated in practice, but the simplest way to communicate the distinction is this: If I work 2 hours and complete a new task I had estimated to take 4 hours, a straight hourly approach would record 2, for the 2 hours I worked. My new approach records 4, since I effectively completed 4 hours of work today, even though I did it in two hours.

So far I only have one burndown goal, which tracks all my defined sprints, including side project and personal sprints. I think it’s becoming clear that this won’t be sufficient long-term, as completing a bunch of work on a personal project does not satisfy my real-world commitment to my employer.

The reason I didn’t start out with multiple burndown goals is partly because there isn’t an easy way to tell Beeminder I only want to be on the hook for a given goal on these specific weekdays. My current employer has a four-day workweek, so, ideally, I’d only want Beeminder to keep me on the hook for my job’s burndown Monday thru Thursday, and TaskRatchet burndown on Friday.

I think I’m going to end up creating a burndown goal specifically for my job regardless. If the scheduling issue proves real, I may have to add a cron job to schedule breaks in the appropriate goals. Sigh.

Summary

Key Value
Number of goals 37
New goals this week 1
Goals scheduled for archive 0
Newest goal pi-blocks (2019-11-18)
Oldest goal worktime (2018-06-05)
Highest pledge worktime ($30.0)
Total pledges $173.0
Derails this week 2
Upgrades this week 6

Random Goal: trash

This goal keeps me accountable to regularly take out the trash.

New Goals

  • pi-blocks: Created 2019-11-18. I’ve been waiting until the last minute to post updates on my Beeminder Pi light project, which results in some pretty lackluster updates. :stuck_out_tongue: Hoping that this goal will help me actually put in the minimal amount of time required to make real progress.

Derails

Both of the following derails happened on the same day. I had a terrible headache and simply did not have the mental focus required to meet goal requirements.

A skeleton of this summary was generated using a Python script and then carefully filled in by hand.

1 Like

Update 2019-12-11

Summary

Key Value
Number of goals 41
New goals this week 4
Goals scheduled for archive 1
Newest goal date-plan (2019-12-11)
Oldest goal worktime (2018-06-05)
Highest pledge worktime ($30.0)
Total pledges $177.0
Derails this week 1
Upgrades this week 5

Random Goal: msda-blocks

This goal ensures I regularly volunteer time on projects for my church.

New Goals

  • half-past-eight: Created 2019-12-06. I’ve decided to start another bedtime goal. This one just requires that I enter a 1 when I get to bed before 8:30. (Yes, we go to bed early.) Conveniently, the deadline is 8:30, too.
  • date-plan: Created 2019-12-11. I have another goal that requires I plan times to discuss family matters with my wife–not actually spend the time, just schedule the time to spend. It’s worked so well we’ve decided to apply the same approach to scheduling dates.
  • food-journal: Created 2019-12-11. This goal is for the purpose of replacing my previous plates goal. The plates goal hasn’t really helped me lose weight, as I’ve compensated by loading up my plates high, even though we’re using small plates. This new goal only requires that I keep track of what I’m eating, which should hopefully build awareness and help me to be more mindful with my eating, while avoiding any adverse incentives.
  • day-plans: Created 2019-12-11. My wife has been making plans for her days, and she’s influenced me to get back to doing the same.

Derails

  • av-burndown: 2019-12-10. My wife and I had a late night traveling and the next day I was brain dead. Could not muster the energy to meet the requirement.

Scheduled for Archive

  • plates: As explained above, it hasn’t helped me lose weight. So archived it will be.

A skeleton of this summary was generated using a Python script and then carefully filled in by hand.

Just checking in to say everything’s crazy and I’m probably gonna derail on a bunch of stuff but I still love Beeminder thats all bye! :sweat_smile:

Update: Amazingly, I avoided all derails. I’m… surprised.

3 Likes

Update 2020-01-14

Summary

Key Value
Number of goals 51
New goals this week 4
Goals scheduled for archive 3
Newest goal techtainment (2020-01-14)
Oldest goal worktime (2018-06-05)
Highest pledge worktime ($30.0)
Total pledges $202.0
Derails this week 1
Upgrades this week 0

Random Goal: keep-zero

This goal ensures I clear out and process my Google Keep inbox note, where I record random ideas, new todos, URLs I want to process, etc.

New Goals

  • techtainment: Created 2020-01-14. In the past I’ve found that just setting a timer before I engage in entertainment causes me to make much healthier choices, and to stop in a reasonable amount of time. I haven’t been doing this for a while, and my entertainment habits have been deteriorating accordingly. So I’m starting a new goal to fix that.
  • work-poms: Created 2020-01-14. I’m switching away from my existing time management strategies for work to simple pomodoros. We’ll see how it goes.
  • unplugged-blocks: Created 2020-01-11. I feel like I’m addicted to screens. This goal requires that I take 30 minutes to completely avoid screens on occassion. And it turns out to be very refreshing.
  • av-wp-plugin-commits: Created 2020-01-13. A GitHub-powered goal to ensure I make progress on a key work project.

Derails

  • worktime: 2020-01-10. I was quite sick last week and derailed as a result. I called non-legit.

Scheduled for Archive

The following goals are all scheduled for archive as a part of my transition to using Workflowy and the pomodoro technique exclusively for my work task and time management. My existing processes were just too formal and complex for my new job, so I’m attempting to switch to something lighter and more flexible, while hopefully also increasing my ability to spend focused time on achieving meaningful outcomes.

A skeleton of this summary was generated using a Python script and then carefully filled in by hand.

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.
2 Likes

What parts of your goal to keep in touch with friends are automated and what parts are manual?

1 Like

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.
3 Likes

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
      • Select task
      • 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.
2 Likes

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.

3 Likes

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. :stuck_out_tongue:

2 Likes

I managed to meet my weight goal! :crazy_face:

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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.

2 Likes

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. :slight_smile:

1 Like