Please don't let me cheat on "do less" goals!

The fact that “do less” goals allow you to go over for one day and make it up the next, as long as you only do that every other day has been hurting a couple of my most important goals (I’d even say crippling them). I end up convincing myself that I’ll definitely not mind, tomorrow, having to make up for the extra that I do today. But this is kind of exactly the akratic problem, isn’t it? “I don’t need to work out today; I can just do a double-session tomorrow!”

It would be really nice if we could have midnight derails on “do less” goals instead of being able to make them up the next day. Once I was aware of that, I started tricking myself with it all the time. (I’m not interested in instantaneous derails, just midnight derails like the “do more” goals.) I routinely ignore my “do less” limits, willfully, because I know that I can. I just don’t really take the “do less” goals seriously anymore, and the derails aren’t teaching me to stop screwing up or moving me towards my real goal, because this time, this time, I’m definitely going to make it up tomorrow.

I know there are some problems here as this would mean that both the reminder settings for eep days as well as the “when does this goal derail?” calculations the graph makes would have to be changed, but I think the fact that we’re able to have such a huge loophole on bad habits is damaging to the spirit of keeping us on track every day instead of piling things all together in extremes and plays right into the akratic problem. After all, tomorrow me will always be in a better position to work towards my goals that today me, right? This is a lot like allowing me to not do today’s minimum on a “do more” goal, so long as I really really promise to make it up the next day. I think that’s a slippery slope from which recovery is unlikely. There are just a lot of downsides to this bug/solution, I think.


Very much agreed, except I want to quickly point out that it’s not as bad as it sounds. Do Less goals do still enforce hewing to the precommitted rate of the yellow brick road. In other words, the loophole you’re referring to is super dumb but not actually a slippery slope.

Repeating the gory details from a footnote in another forum thread:

The criterion for derailment is “in the red yesterday and also today”. Which sounds weird but it makes it simple to test at midnight: it’s now the new day so did I make it back on the road in time or not? For Do More goals that’s exactly the right test. For Do Less goals it means that if you exceed the road by less than the daily rate then at midnight when it checks it says “you were in the red at the end of yesterday but now today you’re orange, so you’re ok”. This doesn’t totally ruin the point of the Do Less goal. You still have to maintain the average rate you committed to. But if you take this to the akratic extreme it means you can do twice the daily rate every other day (and nothing in between). So if you were right on the top edge yesterday then the next morning you’ll start right at the centerline. That means you can do one day’s worth to hit the top edge and another day’s worth into the red. The next day you’ll flatline back to the very top edge of the road again (where doing anything >0 will put you in the red and derail you since you ended the previous day in the red) and the cycle can repeat.

You probably did not want to know that. (Like, literally, awareness of this loophole can harm your beeminding, exactly as you describe. Memetic hazard!)

It’s worse than a slippery slope; it outright breaks some goals irreparably. There are goals that are extremely difficult to “catch up” on not doing more of on the day after a would-be derailment, and I find myself having to use a different type of goal for those (one with cumulative unchecked). But then I don’t get to carry forward any positive momentum, so this goal is punishing, in that I’m forced to abandon any buffer I might be able to build up on an extra good day, because the cost of the occasional days where I’m tired and low on willpower and decide Tomorrow Me can handle it is very high (both the financial cost of the repeated derailments that wouldn’t have been, and the cost to the success of the goal itself… not to mention the motivational kick in the teeth that being akratic gives you when you wake up out of it again.)

In some cases, I really think it does. I’ve been trying to create an API workaround to correct for this, so that it will force a derailment if yesterday was above the road, regardless of what today is, but my code has been a bit of a disaster and wrecked most of my roads, so I’ve cut out trying to do that (plus, I’m out of time to work on it for a little bit).

Is there any way to fix up some option to keep this from being the case? It’s just not at all anti-akratic. When someone suggested allowing themselves to push a Do More goal forward by “just one day” from time to time, we were all pretty against it because that’s the beginning of the trap, isn’t it? Same principle applies here. (Only, perhaps it’s actually worse. You can actually do something extra tomorrow, but you can’t undo something tomorrow.)

I lose ground (and money) that I think I wouldn’t otherwise because of this feature. I really dislike it. And I find the bonus of doing especially well on a particular day is all but lost, because I sometimes rationalize that I might as well use up all of the space that I’ve got, since it’s gone at midnight anyway.

Couldn’t there be, instead of a “do both yesterday and today have red points” check something like a “was yesterday’s point that counts red?” check, with a field for “yesterday has already been checked (0/1)” (perhaps with that last one coming first so there’s no need to check whether yesterday was red if it’s already been checked…unless new data is added for a before-today date, at which point I guess the 0/1 would have to reset to 0 so we don’t escape derailments that would have been if we retroactively enter datapoints) so there isn’t a constant derailment loop on the day after a derailment?


i’m probably tooootally preaching to the choir with this question, but have you tried configuring these goals with road widths = 0? does that make things at all better, or does it just shift the loophole from occurring at red-to-orange to “orange” (technically red, since width = 0, but what would be orange if you’d not had to work around the loophole)-to-blue?

i don’t even know if that made sense! that’s probably a sign of some serious improvement to be made.


I wanted to bump this plea (sorry, I know it’s 15-months old now), because I really want to be able to use do-less goals without workarounds, and I was curious whether there were others who also would like that, or whether I’m the only one that this bug is affecting this much.

I’ve tried for about 3-4 years to use workarounds to this, and I still haven’t found anything that isn’t a lot of extra friction or just plain doesn’t work in the end. I’ve paid a lot in do-less derailments that I’ve felt… not super great about, because they’re providing punishment only, not motivation at the important time, since they continue to allow “tomorrow me won’t mind” thinking and then just punish me for having been delusional about that when tomorrow me can’t make up the difference.

I don’t know enough about the behind-the-scenes to know if this is easily doable, but there’s gotta be a way to make it such that if it’s the deadline, beebrain checks to see whether it’s a do less goal and, if it is, then if it’s red, it derails and resets, hasn’t there? (I could be wrong, of course, coding is far from my strong suit.)

We have the fantastic weekends off now, and premium is launching soon, and I would really like to make a pitch (and a plea) for this to be the next big thing on the menu.


I think more generally, making “do less” goals work better AND better explaining them would be a huge plus for beeminder.

I’ve been a beeminder user for AGES but have always avoided “do less” goals because they seemed so messy and difficult. I know this is partially because these things are objectively hard to beemind (the other reason I’m just now starting a “do less” is because I just found a way to automatically monitor my spending rather than rely on self-reporting, which is worthless because I am a lying cheat when it comes to spending), but I feel like if you did a big user survey on how people use Do Less goals, and what frustrations they have, and we all put our heads together, we could figure this out!