Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions? Will you use beeminder to help you with any of them? Or just some new beeminder goals you feel like saying a few words about?
Recently I’ve absorbing a lot of Cal Newport (Deep Work and Digital Minimalism) so this is a likely source of some resolutions. To help brainstorm, I also re-read the Hammertime Bug Hunt post, and googled some variations of “types of New Year’s Resolutions”, etc. etc.
Taking my lead from Nicky, I guess I’ll try to make a list of general goals for the year and then try to produce a set of beeminder goals that are useful.
Some general kinds of things I want to accomplish:
- I have started to plan each day by time-blocking, with large blocks dedicated to focusing on a single project Deep Work style. This is going well. I want to keep doing it.
- I want to spend less time reading random articles online / scrolling reddit / clicking aimlessly between discord servers / just doing anything that I’m only doing because I was bored and I didn’t know what to do and it was the first thing that occured to me. Actually, it’s not even just the time, it’s the distraction—even worse than checking my phone just because I’m bored is doing that while I was already watching a movie.
- I want to finish tidying up my apartment and keep it clean (two separate issues, if one completely drinks the Kondo Kool-Aid).
- I must clear my backlog of half-written research papers. (I have a
writingbeeminder goal but it doesn’t feel like it’s working. I may write a detailed post-mortem one day but for now I should just try attacking the issue from a different angle.)
- Obviously I also want to do well in my new position, although so far I actually feel pretty good about my new research projects.
- I want to make substantial progress on learning Japanese.
- I want to make more music.
Now let’s convert that to more specific goals. Thinking big, maybe aiming a bit too high:
- By the end of the year, average at least 4 2-hour blocks a day (3 work, 1 not work) that are set aside in advance to do some specific thing, and I get through without distractions.
- By the end of the year, never multitask. Do not open another browser tab / discord / my phone / anything without a conscious decision to stop whatever I was doing before that. Note that the non-work time block in goal #1 also has some overlap with this.
- By the end of Feburary do a substantial tidying that gives everything left in my apartment a specific place it is stored. The rest of the year, keep up with regular cleaning. (Even though we’re not in the beeminder goal section yet, I know that the regular cleaning will mean something like what @rperce is doing.)
- The two most important old papers posted on the arXiv within three months. The two less important ones within six months after that.
- I have lots of specific goals, but keeping in mind that my biggest problem is not publishing enough, let’s set an insane goal of 4 papers on the arXiv from new projects this year. (Yeah, if you’re in like CS or something, maybe this doesn’t sound insane, but academia varies more than you think it does).
- On the short term I will probably make some specific goals like get through textbook X in two months, but this kind of goal is a bit weak (how much benefit did I really derive from narrow goals like “learn to write X kanji”?) I have at least one friend who speaks reasonably well, so we can get closer to an integration test: have a half-hour phone conversation purely in Japanese by the end of the year.
- I’d like to make two original songs this year. Details are open.
And the beeminder goals. I’d be open to any suggestions that seem better aligned to the above goals, if you have doubts about any of these:
- Time block X hours per day. For now I’ve set X=6. The implied fine print is that it only counts if I ended up actually doing what the block said, but I’m allowed to change the block shortly before it takes place, I don’t have to commit at the start of the day (although it would be good to).
- I have already made one amusing goal,
phoneboxto spend at least 3 hours a day with my phone literally placed inside a sealed box (only intervals of at least 1 contiguous hour count). I think it’d be nice to have another beeminder goal that gets directly at unstructued browsing of discord / the internet but I don’t have a good one yet.
- I’m going to basically copy @rperce’s cleaning goal / trello board. As for short-term tidying…well, I tried to think of various goals, but Kondo-Sensei’s voice in my head keeps saying you have to do it all in one go. So !@#$ it, this isn’t a job for beeminder. I’m just going to go to my closet, take all the disordered junk, and put it in a giant pile in the middle of my !@#$ing living room.
- For both of the paper-writing goals: one clearly identifiable problem is that goals like
writingdon’t prevent my common failure mode of essentially constantly generating new things to work instead of focusing on finishing a small number of projects before moving on to anything new. One provisional solution is anything that will force, say, 30 hours of my weekly time blocks to be focused on only the 3 projects I think are most important right now. Now, since each of these projects are probably going to last at least a few weeks more…the obvious solution is to just give each of them a separate toggl goal. When I originally made my
writinggoal I was worried about this kind of solution because of the akrasia horizon—what if by the time I realize a project is almost done, it’s too late to archive it and I derail just becuase I have nothing to do? Well whatever, I can live with that.
- For now on Japanese and music let’s just make more toggl goals. Start with 2 hours a week and we’ll see how we can push it.
I feel like maybe I haven’t been creative enough here—̛I mostly just made “spend X hours doing Y”-type goals! As I said before, suggestions are welcome.