New Year's Resolution Thread 2023

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. I want to finish tidying up my apartment and keep it clean (two separate issues, if one completely drinks the Kondo Kool-Aid).
  4. I must clear my backlog of half-written research papers. (I have a writing beeminder 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.)
  5. Obviously I also want to do well in my new position, although so far I actually feel pretty good about my new research projects.
  6. I want to make substantial progress on learning Japanese.
  7. I want to make more music.

Now let’s convert that to more specific goals. Thinking big, maybe aiming a bit too high:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. The two most important old papers posted on the arXiv within three months. The two less important ones within six months after that.
  5. 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).
  6. 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.
  7. 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:

  1. 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).
  2. I have already made one amusing goal, phonebox to 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.
  3. 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.
  4. For both of the paper-writing goals: one clearly identifiable problem is that goals like work-hours or writing don’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 writing goal 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.
  5. 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.


what if by the time I realize a project is almost done, it’s too late to arhive it and I derail just because I have nothing to do?

I suspect this is a non-issue: I can’t think of any project where I could generate at least two or three days worth of “polishing” I could apply to it after “completion”: fixing up dependencies/references, improving the README (or “abstract”, as appropriate), taking another copyediting pass, touching up footnote formatting consistency, writing a blog post about the project…

On an unrelated note, I am honored to be your cleaning-goal inspiration! :smiley:

I think I will have some resolution ideas later today. I’ll mull it over and probably post Soon™.



I think looking a year into the future carries too much uncertainty for me, at least for this year. So I’ll only make one New Year’s Resolution, and that’s to set at least three goals/resolutions for each season. Except for 2022-2023 winter, which I’ll set right now, the others need to be set in the last two weeks of the preceding season. So my schedule—I’ll just post updates here, if you don’t mind, @poisson (if you do, I can make my own thread! :smiley:)—is:

  • Today: set winter goals
  • 2023-03-05 – 2023-03-19: set spring goals
  • 2023-06-06 – 2023-06-20: set summer goals
  • 2023-09-08 – 2023-09-22: set autumn goals
  • 2023-12-06 – 2023-12-20: decide if I’m going to do this again for the next year, and if so, set winter goals

To hold myself to those dates, I’ve just set up a metagoal, seasonal-goals[bmndr]. I get a +1 for writing the new goal in the comment of the datapoint and I have to write it here (or my journal thread, or somewhere public).

In the spirit of bughunts past[LessWrong], here’s some things to improve that come to mind that might be good candidates for turning into resolutions:

  1. Be better at setting beeminder breaks far enough ahead of trips, vacations, &c. I already started trying to improve this by adding a “upcoming breaks” section to my journal thread[forum], but that’s only because I started thinking about seasonal resolutions last night.
  2. I’m pretty happy about general cleanliness, but my desk specifically stays too messy for too long.
  3. I “have” too many hobbies, with “have” in scare-quotes there because what I actually have too much of is gear & tools for hobbies I’m realistically not going to back to but am lugging around “just in case”. I’ve had an entry to start cracking on this in my GTD actions list for months and it just keeps drifting lower and lower and lower…
  4. On a related note, come to think of it, my GTD actions list is steadily increasing in depth and I’m starting to get worried about losing important but unpleasant tasks deep in it, which rather defeats the whole point.
  5. My wife and I have been talking about taking tennis lessons together since last spring and haven’t made any progress towards it.
  6. I want to grow more plants but am out of convenient places with good sunlight.

I think (1) doesn’t need to be a whole resolution: I already wrote “fill out the breaks section” in the fine print of my calendial[bmndr] goal, so it’s pre-enforced. (6) might turn into something around summer-goal-time, possibly: we’re currently house-hunting, and our apartment’s lease is up in June, so I don’t want to spend too much time worrying about my physical environment if it’s not a real problem.

(4) gives me an idea for a new reporter script, but I want to get my storygraph individual-book one packaged up neatly and published first, then tidy up my beenary website userscript, then work on the reporter for GTD action depth. That said, I might should create a goal to keep up with doing Weekly Review so I at least scan through the whole list more regularly and archive stale tasks or move them to “someday/maybe” or something. Plus, attacking (4) feels like it might generalize to solving (3) and (5), since they’re sort of “specific task”-style goals.

So, in terms of concrete winter resolutions:

  1. Keep desk more clean. Tracked in a new goal: cleandesk!
  2. Improve rate of handling tasks in my Next Actions list. It’s a big fuzzy problem, but I’ll start by enforcing a more regular & frequent Weekly Review process with a new weekly-review goal and see how it goes.
  3. Sign up for a tennis lesson with my wife sometime before the start of spring. The lesson can be in spring or summer as long as the signing up happens this season. Even though I’m hoping “more weekly review” would make this happen organically, I want it to happen strongly enough that I’m pulling it out into its specific resolution.