Question on use of TagTime for minding nailbiting


#21

Update on the nailbiting:

It’s been 250 days and I still haven’t gotten the habit under control, but I definitely see improvements in my nails and cuticles. What I ended up doing was installing the IFTTT DO Button app, which lets you put an icon on your Android homescreen which will add data to a beeminder goal. It’s only 1 second less frictionless than an actual physical button I can press every time I bite my nails.

Further, I’ve set the nailbiting goal to autoratchet to 8 units before derailment, so I’m in some kind of constant danger. I’m considering decreasing this in the new year, and resolving to more regularly actually enter data. The IFTTT button sometimes fails and I don’t always have my phone on me, but I’ve seen definite improvement with the threat of a $90 sting.


#22

Another update, another year later:

I’ve bought a Flic button that I keep on my ID lanyard at work and it’s been perfect at letting me enter data every time I accidentally bite my nails at work. Flic’s interface isn’t the most intuitive but IFTTT works great with it, so it’s really easy to hook into the Beeminder API.

Another change I just started trying is using the Flic to charge myself immediately. I’ve started with one dollar, so this isn’t quite as bad as a hard shock from Pavlok, say, but it’s as close to frictionless as possible and I’m hopeful that it will actually work.

So I currently have 2 of 3 actions on my flic set up to do something about biting nails:
double-click means "add a datapoint to my goal"
long click means “charge me one dollar”

Potential downsides:

  • I can never let anyone know what the button does or else be a very easy practical joke victim
  • I don’t always have the button on me, but I hope the inertia from not biting nails at work helps me stop in other situations. I also have a DO button widget on my phone that lets me charge myself. So it’s just a little more friction when I’m at home or out and about.

My road on the nailbiting goal also still doesn’t quite do what I want it to; I have it set to only ever give me maximum of 4 instances of nailbiting per day but that’s too many.

I think the next step if the immediate charge sting doesn’t work is to make the road even stricter, then up the charge, and maybe alternate until I find something that is super motivational.


#23

Another update:

My cuticles are the best they’ve been in years thanks to adding an action on my Flic and Do button apps to immediately charge myself a dollar when I find myself nailbiting. Funny that this is the thing that finally seems to be working, when snap bracelets and various hacky data entry schemes with the threat of a big punishment didn’t do anything.


#24

@austinely: I am glad that you found something that worked. I think that it works so well is that you are making the charge/consequence immediate v. waiting until midnight for standard Beeminder do less goals. Your way also helps prevent binging because you can charge yourself for each instance.


#25

And another, possibly final update:

The Flic and immediate charge worked well, but it wasn’t until I finally bit the bullet and bought some bitter nail polish that I really got the incidence of this bad habit down to a manageable level. This combo worked so well, in fact, that I have switched back to a standard Beeminder goal with the input “days without nailbiting.” This means that I have to keep a streak of days going where I don’t touch my fingernails, and with pledge capping I’m not incentivized to cheat; instead, once I inevitably find my nails in my mouth during a bout of absentmindedness, I just mentally slap myself on the wrist.

The last couple times this has happened I’d built up a day of safety buffer before derailment so I wasn’t charged. Perhaps I’ll consider tweaking my road to make buffer appear even less frequently, but I think this habit is on the way out!