Nine Greens for Two Days Running!!!

Sorry for bragging, but I’m so happy about this. I started using Beeminder in 2012, but I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever gotten all my goals into the green for more than one day in a row. It’s so ridiculously motivating, I can’t even tell you. I’d go to almost any lengths to keep this beautiful matrix of green going.

I’ve been having a really easy and relaxed summer, which helps. I’m currently working from home and have a lot of paid downtime at my job, which is amazing. I also discontinued my long-term Beeminder weight goal, because I realized that focusing on things I could change like diet and exercise was much more motivating than passively measuring something that I didn’t have day-to-day control over. That and spending less money on food are my two big metagoals of the summer, with a few other long-term maintenance goals mixed in.

My current goals:

  1. No Junk Days - I get three points a day but have to give one back if I eat something in the sweet/caffeinated, junk-carb/red-meat, or alcohol categories. Once I’ve given the point back for that category I can eat as much other stuff in that category without giving any more points back that day, but the next day it resets. This works well for me, because I can decide to go hog wild and drink as much coffee as I want, have ice cream plus a slice of pie, whatever, without having to piece together individual nitpicky calorie counts – only if it’s worth giving up my sweet/caffeine point for that day. I’ve definitely been eating less junk food than before I had this goal, and when I do eat it, it’s because of an active, mindful choice to eat it and enjoy it.

  2. HabitRPG - Apartment cleaning tasks. This would be so much easier if Beeminder would accept dailies (or I guess if HabitRPG would allow for recurring to-dos), but I’ve kludged it together to a fairly tolerable point with a few lists of common household tasks that I can import at intervals.

  3. Food Money - A reverse odometer custom goal! So fancy. I update YNAB pretty much every day by manually downloading QFX reports from my bank. Then I put the number it lists for the “food” category (groceries + lunch money + delivery + restaurants) into Beeminder. It would be nice to automate this, but it’s not too much trouble to do by hand. I’ve managed to reduce my food spending by about $200 a month over the past several months, which feels good. Still a ways to go, though!

  4. Blog - One post per week on either of my two work-related blogs (one for my business, one for my open source project). I had this goal a few years ago, did really well with it, then retired it, and suddenly both my blogs dropped to almost zero, so I realized I had to revive it again. One of those things where you think Beeminder’s cured you permanently but then you realize that without external motivation you’re just as akratic as before. Oh, well!

  5. Droidsleep - I have terrible problems getting enough sleep during the year, because I’ll have days where I have to get up at 5:30 am but don’t come home until 10:30 pm. But this summer has been bliss. I’ve actually managed to get about 8 hours almost every day this week, which is unprecedented! Sleep As Android’s Beeminder integration definitely helps keep me honest here. Plus I love their Spaceship lullaby. I just hook it up to my pillow speaker and pretend I’m on the bridge during the night shift, gazing out into the vastness of the universe and listening to the gentle bleeps and bloops of my mighty galactic vessel.

  6. Swim or Gym - A pretty easy one. I recently got a year-long membership to the gym across the street and a summer membership to the gym-with-a-pool down on 14th Street. My goal is to go across the street on days when I don’t have much time but to get down to the pool as much as I can, since swimming always makes me feel better than just using the cardio machines. Good planning and a waterproof mp3 player help me find the time and energy to get all the way down there. I don’t bother to track minutes; just a simple 1 or 0 are enough to keep me honest here.

  7. Cycling More - I’ve been using Runkeeper’s Beeminder integration with Citibike to track my crosstown commute, but since I’m now working from home and Citibike doesn’t go above 59th Street (I live on 193rd), I realized I needed to get my own bike if I didn’t want to discontinue this goal for the summer. So my wife and I both bought bikes! We’ve been having a fantastic time riding them around the neighborhood and along Manhattan’s river greenways. A big lump sum out of pocket, but so far we’re getting plenty of use out of 'em.

  8. @Reply Zero - Probably the most life-changing of my Beeminder goals. This one goes all the way back to 2012, after I successfully tamed my inbox with the Gmail Zero goal. Maybe replying to all outstanding messages once a week isn’t very impressive to most people, but it’s a huge improvement over the horribly avoidant email behavior I had before this goal existed. And often I’m able to click it several times a week anyway, so I retroratchet regularly.

  9. Cheaper Groceries - The fine-grained goal that works alongside the more broadly focused Food Money goal. I have a bad habit of going to fancy froo-froo grocery stores and spending ridiculous amounts of money on gourmet groceries. Even worse, I’ll often buy our staple products there, at outrageous markups. This goal gives me 1 point every time I shop at an affordable grocery store (Associated, Key Food, Gristedes) and -1 point every time I shop at an expensive grocery store (Frank’s Market, Foragers, Fairway, Gracefully, Manhattan Fruit Exchange).


Also, today I’ve got zero @reply emails and zero @action emails in my inbox for the first time… Ever? At the very least for over two years. DAMN, IT FEELS GOOD.


:thumbsup: for not beeminding weight, it’s much better to track eating better and getting more exercise.

Thanks for the summary, I really like seeing other people’s goals, what they are tracking and why.


Ok, now that’s inspiring!

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I’ve managed to keep it up pretty much all week, too! I need to keep my phone screen on during work hours in case I get text messages from clients, so I keep it plugged in and mounted on a little dock.

It bothers me SO MUCH when I have to look at that screen all day and one of the little widgets isn’t green, so it’s been enforcing my good behavior to an extreme degree. Plus both the Sleep As Android widget and the Runkeeper widget are on there, so they all kinda reinforce each other.


Postscript! This delightful thread is now a major motion blog post:

Thanks so much, @nepomuk!


I’ve always wanted the option to adjust the time of zeno-polling. E.g., a user like @nepomuk might set zeno-polling to occur on days when she is no longer in the green. Of course if she didn’t take action that day, the following days would also be eep days.

I realize you may have considered this already. It may lessen the scare-factor of the regular zeno-polling, it may even be useless since real akratics would only be motivated on a real eep-day, etc. That last argument has been disproven however by mirabai’s blog post (same caveat as your footnote applies). It would also be easy to distinguish these toothless zeno-polling mails from the stingy ones by changing the subject: e.g., ‘Green gone!’ instead of ‘Eep!’.

I’d love this setting, but it sounds like a suspiciously good fit for a premium perk. In any case, now’s the time to mention it since remrev is going full steam ahead.