Record a starting time with the goal of making it earlier?

Sorry if my subject line makes no sense…I’ve been playing with this site all evening and I’m definitely starting to feel like Lisa Simpson visiting Allison’s house.

I’d like to record the time I actually get out of bed every day and get to my desk—why yes, I am a freelancer, how did you know?—with the goal of making that number either get smaller or stay the same. How would I go about doing this?

I suppose the easiest way would be just to set a time I want to hit, like 9 AM, and then make a binary +1 goal for that day. But if possible I’d love for it to be a bit more flexible.


UPDATE: Thinking about this some more, I think the binary +1 option probably makes more sense combined with me updating the description of the goal.

That is, today I was at my desk at 9:30, so tomorrow my +1 goal is to get here by 9:30 or earlier. If tomorrow I get here at 9:15, I’ll update the goal description to be that. I mean, it’s not like I’m going to be continuously pushing this time back for months and months until I’m getting to work at 10 PM the previous night.

If someone has free time and would like to flex their Beeminder knowledge, I’d still be interested in how to set up the goal in my original question, but more in a “wow, I don’t understand this site AT ALL” way, not because I need it.


Hi, and welcome the amazing beeminder community. You’re definitely in a weird place of the internet but in my experience people here are super helpful.

I can’t really help with your specific problem because I don’t have the skills, but I’ll tell you how I tackle this specific challenge as a freelancer (oversleeping, not starting to work).

  1. I created a mh_walks goal. To send +1, I have to scan a NFC tag outside my house. I need to walk 1,5 times every day (so 1 each day, and 1 more every other day).
  2. I created a “morning_walk” méta goal that uses the “cap1” aggregation method and has a deadline at 9am. If I don’t enter data on my mh_walks before 9am, it’ll automatically derail. (I sometimes have to ratchet it; it’s not super sturdy but I always respect it)
  3. When I’m home, I’ll usually get motivated to at least work on a side project because I had the time to think about it while walking. If not, I would create a new goal linked to Toggl Track

What happens is the following:

  1. 5am, take brain pills. I’ll usually fall asleep again, but if not, I enjoy programming on side-projects
  2. 8:45am, my alarm goes off. I either snooze it a bit or start preparing myself directly
  3. I pull random clothes in record time, and a coat
  4. I get out of my house
  5. I scan the NFC tag before 9am (phew!)
  6. I walk around my neighborhood for 10-15 minutes
  7. I get home. I’m usually at least energized enough to work on side projects. When I’m extra motivated, I work on client projects directly. I always swift to client projects in the beginning of the afternoon (I try to have 33% fun, 66% work or I burn out)

Sorry for the lengthy post, but I hope that you have found something interesting. If you have freelancing tips, I’ll gladly take them since I’m new (1 year and a half) and I have been facing tons of challenge with motivation and work/life balance!


(Also lol, but that can be an idea. If you don’t have obligations, freestyling your days can be unexpectedly productive. I’ve tried this - working when I feel like it, sleeping when I feel like it for one month and it was one of the best time of my life - but I ended up with a reversed sleep cycle)


Hi! Thank you for the warm welcome and the lengthy explanation! Can you tell me more (when you have a minute!) about how your NFC scanner interacts with Beeminder? That sounds exactly like what I’ve been looking for. Please keep in mind when replying that Intelligence was my dump stat and my understanding of this app only extends as far as “push button so money no leave.”

In terms of freelance advice, I’m afraid all I have are platitudes that I have varying success at following: eat the frog (do the hard thing first); grease the groove (try to do a little bit of work every time you sit down before you do anything else); 90 minutes of focused work on a meaningful project first thing every morning; try to keep consistent hours or you’ll end up feeling like your whole life is your job.

I can probably come up with more. Let me observe what I do in the real world tomorrow then advise you to do the opposite of that.



You could track your start time as “minutes before 10:00am” in a Do More goal. So if you start at 9:00am your input for that day is 60; or if you start at 9:15 your input is 45; etc.

The progressive improvement comes with how steep you set the target rate. It’s generally best to start with something easy, like if 9:30am is easy for you, your initial rate would be 30/day. Then when you want to increase the difficulty, you can set the rate to 40, corresponding to starting at 9:20am.

This is all slightly indirect just because you have to do the time-subtraction when inputting data, but it plays on Beeminder’s strengths to graph a simple cumulative positive number.

And I think it makes practical sense to increase the steepness of your “bright red line” by hand (and only once in a while as needed) to modulate difficulty. This is also good for congruence with Beeminder — it’s more “built-in” / stricter to adjust your commitment within the system instead of loosely as a note about what your target is. (You can rely on, eg, the “akrasia horizon” to not make things easier for yourself on a whim.)

(I say all this as someone who uses both kinds of approach in all kinds of goals — both what I’ve described here and binary/threshold type goals. Both are good and will work! Beeminder is very flexible.)


If you’re not going to start work before midnight, you could define your rate in hours, and enter your start times as “9:33”. I did this for a long time for some sleep goals.


Thank you both, I’ve set up a couple temporary goals trying out each method!


Lol, thanks for the attention. Do your worst!
(Edit: did you do your worst?)

Your indications are actually useful for me, so thanks.
If you have any more, I will gladly hear them.

My NFC setup uses my Android phone and the Tasker app that you can find on the play store. You can order NFC tags on Amazon. If you want to finance a Chinese overlord instead, you can use AliExpress. Well, he’ll probably get financed either way…

PS: (I didn’t notice your message earlier because you didn’t reply or tag me! But maybe that’s a good thing, what did you settle on?)