Well, happy 2024! It’s time for my first check-in of the year, so I’m starting off with some housekeeping and making a new thread for the new year.
I can’t believe this is the fifth Beeminder journal I’m making. How time does fly!
Each week, I post a summary/reflection on my beeminding from the previous week. I usually post on Friday, though sometimes I’ll post a couple of days earlier or later.
[Pre-2021] |  |  | 
Feel free to join in and ask questions, poke me and give me accountability, chip in with your experiences. I’m game. If something’s out of bounds (e.g. because it’s too personal), I won’t be offended, I’ll just say so.
As I’ve warned previously, I’m usually very frank about my physical and mental health, particularly the latter. That means I’m usually happy to answer questions that others might consider impertinent or TMI… but I’ll let you know if it crosses the boundary.
Useful things to know:
It’s been a surprisingly motivated week. I felt pretty refreshed after Christmas and wanted to do All The Things! By today I’m pretty tired, but I don’t know if the enthusiasm is actually gone or if I’m just wiped out by the killer headache I had last night. I’ll refrain from adding anything new for a while, ahaha.
- /2023reading - This was my “easy” reading goal, aiming to read the number of books I managed to read the year before, 300. I made it well in time, so this only ended now because it reached the end date. I overachieved!
- /2023reading_ex - This was finished well before the end date, and chronicled me reading 365+ books last year! Some of them were short, and I counted stuff like manga, comics and textbooks, but that was all in the plan (I always have counted that kind of thing).
- /2023reading_sav - And this one aimed for 400 books. I reached it at the last minute, on December 31st.
- 2023pages - This goal was aiming at reading 70,000 pages in total in 2023, and I exceeded it by quite a ways. I’m very happy with my progress here!
- /2023_readingsprint - This was the goal I created in December (I think?) to count down the last books I needed to finish for my “savage” reading goal. This goal style was actually sparked by someone in the support inbox suggesting that they’d generally find whittle-down-style goals more motivating. I can’t say I found it more motivating, but it was a nice addition to my stable of goals. Also nice to have a manual goal to enter data into: I find the deliberateness of going to add data quite useful.
- /2024reading - This is my “easiest” reading goal for the year, aiming to read 300 books in total. This should be doable if circumstances remain the way they are right now, but I’m not ruling out having to reduce the goal – there have definitely been years where I struggled to read this much. It’s tracked via StoryGraph, using the slightly-hidden books metric that only the support team can switch on for StoryGraph goals (same goes for the other two).
- /2024reading_ex - This is my moderate reading goal, aiming to read 365 books in total. A book a day, a lovely-sounding number.
- /2024reading_sav - This is the hardest level of reading goal for the year, aiming to read 400 books in total. It’s also the first to get archived if it starts feeling too much like work to keep up. I made it to 400 books last year, so it is totally feasible… but it wasn’t easy.
- /2024reading_sprint - I discovered toward the end of last year that I really liked counting down the number of books I had left to read for my reading goal, so I’m starting this goal at the start of the year this time. This one is set with the intent of reaching my “savage” goal, which… I’m not sure how I’ll handle it if I give up on that. We’ll see!
- /2024pages - Linked with StoryGraph, this is a goal set up to get me to 84,000 total pages read in 2024. I set this goal by deciding that I’d like to read slightly longer books than I was averaging last year, say 230 pages or so on average, and multiplying that by my most difficult reading goal… and then rounding up a bit, 'cause I like round numbers.
- /newmonthresolution - This is my meta goal for the New Month’s Resolutions challenge I’m running. More about this on the blog, or in the appropriate thread. I created it via the graph editor so it doesn’t slope but instead steps up on the precise date I want it to. Technically I wrote about this in the last update of 2023, but it seemed apropos to carry it over and mention it here too.
- /plank - My first New Month’s Resolution! Simply put, I want to do a plank every day and hold it for as long as I can, working up the difficulty scale as appropriate. So far, I’ve ascertained I can hold a plank on forearms and knees for over a minute, so I’m now working on doing them on my forearms and toes.
- /yoghurts - Also technically not a new goal, but it’s my choice for the New Year’s Resolutions: Ride or Die 2024 challenge, so worth mentioning here! It’s set up so I average eating 6 biolive yoghurts per week in 2024, for a bunch of health reasons.
Changes to existing goals:
- /readreadread - This graph is barely in use anymore, but I’m loath to delete it because I like looking at it. So instead of archiving it, I edited it a bit via the graph editor so the bright red line is a bit closer to the data.
- /weighingin - I’ve added a break for while I’ll be staying at my parents’ house (due to a family emergency taking my wife – and thus my ride to any part of civilisation from where we live – out of the country). I’m pretty sure they have a scale I could use, but I remember it being a bit inaccurate, and I’d rather stick to my own.
- N/a! I’m sure they’re coming…
- Next week I’ll be heading to my parents’ house for a week, as mentioned above. I imagine that’s going to make life a bit weird for some of my goals, but I hope to stay on track with everything.
It’s been a heck of a week, which is closing out with me injured! I should be fine soon, but for now I’m wearing an eyepatch part of the time and squeezing antibiotic treatments into one of my eyes every two hours. It wasn’t going great before that, so suffice it to say it’s been an active week for tweaking my goals. That said, I’m hoping it won’t hold me back long: for someone who was in eye casualty less than 24 hours ago, I’m remarkably functional now.
Changes to existing goals:
- /lshtm_nutrition - Turns out the contents page of the course book isn’t super accurate about how much work each section entails. So after realising I’d misjudged the amount due by 7th January, I decided to rejig the upcoming sections.
- /bsupport - I reduced my hours a tiny bit for this week and forgot to note it before. It might still be a bit steep, but I can add a break later to help catch up if need be.
- /tody - I seem to have forgotten to pause this while I’m away from home. It had plenty of buffer, so adding some more worked fine.
- /physio, /2024pages, /2024reading_sav, /2024_readingsprint - A few goals got a break because they were impossible due to my Thursday spent in urgent appointments, or with only one functioning eye!
- /lshtm_nutrition - Related to my reference above to the course book not being accurate, I didn’t plan my time appropriately, and chose to derail on this goal to gain me the breathing space to work things out. Technically, because I slightly re-defined my goal, I could’ve got out of this one, but that felt like cheating. The change I made should prevent this problem going forward (though the goal’s nearly done anyway).
- I also decided that some past derailments were at the wrong pledge level due to me being slow about reviewing pledges. So I kind of worked out what I should’ve been stung for, and set up a $50 charge for myself using the Slack bot.
By next week, I want to go through all my pledges and review whether they’re in the right places, and whether my pledge caps look OK. I have one or two goals that should definitely be on $0 pledges… but mostly I think they want to have some money at stake. Same for $5 pledges that’re capped there.
As of yesterday, I have been discharged from the eye casualty clinic with no sign of infection, good healing progress, etc. So I’m starting to get back to normal.
Last week, I planned to do a bit of a goal review and check on my goals with $0 pledges, and also review the pledge caps. So I got that done, and now I have a bit more at stake in case it ever comes down to willpower on these goals. Maybe it won’t, maybe just the act of tracking it on Beeminder really was always going to be enough… but I feel a bit safer this way.
I also noticed that at least one of my goals had way more buffer than really made sense, so I ratcheted it down. Maybe next week I’ll do a broader sweep for that, too!
Changes to existing goals:
- I upped some goals from a starting pledge of $0 to $5: /lshtm_bacterial, /ynab, /weeklyreview, /feedbackzeroes, /postcrossingtasks, /weeklyfocusfinder, /bibliophibianorbust, /gratitude, /tody, /toberead, /dailyfocusfinder, /newmonthresolution, /slackoff
- I upped the pledge cap on the following goals: /inhaler, /breakfast, /lshtm_nutrition, /ironandoj, /weeklyreview, /weeklyfocusfinder, /esomeprazole, /healthierchoice, /bibliophibianorbust, /quickbooks, /tody, /dailyfocusfinder
- /slackoff - Also got ratcheted, because it had a ridiculous amount of safety buffer.
- /bsupport and /earnings - Got ratcheted and got the x-mins reset for the new month!
- /toberead - So last week two things happened: I had a terrible time and I bought books for comfort, and at the same time I got sent a whole bunch of advance copies to read. So I derailed this one. I’d already bumped it to $5 from $0, so I have paid for my indulgences.
- Next week should be a bit more “normal” for me in terms of day-to-day routines, since I’ll be back home after staying at my parents’ home for a week, and also I’m no longer having to drop everything to put drops in my eye every two hours. I want to start thinking about what my February New Month Resolution goal will be, and maybe gain some buffer on my reading goals by reading a bit more than the required rate. Also, as I mentioned at the beginning, I might look at doing some ratchets for goals which have a bit too much safety buffer.
I’m curious what is a weekly/daily focus finder?
I wrote briefly about it over here – basically, it used to be a Habitica challenge, and though of course I don’t use Habitica anymore (for a lot of reasons), I carried that useful setup with me.
Back home this week and starting to resolve some of the Christmas chaos. Our flat is tiny, so it feels like fitting new things into good/sensible places is one of those sliding puzzle games every time, so we’re still working on it.
As I planned, I had a look at the rates and safety buffer of some of my goals, and did a bit of a review of those. So that’s done now and discussed in the changes section!
Changes to existing goals:
- /lshtm_nutrition - Looks like I goofed and missed one section out of my plan, so I added another week on to make sure I got that covered. And now I’m done!
- /lshtm_time - I set a quick break on this since I just finished both my remaining modules and want a break before I get stuck into writing the assignments. If I start on those right away, I don’t think the info I need to call on will have settled down in my head yet.
- /bibliophibianorbust - I have such a backlog of reviews, and am now participating so regularly in multiple weekly linkups, that the rate on this goal was too low and my autoratchet was kicking in every single day. I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up a posting rate of 1/day, but I should be able to for at least a month based on the current material, so it made sense to up the rate.
- /physio - This one was edge-skating more than I’m comfy with (meaning I sometimes had to do my physio anyway when it seemed like a bad idea due to other aches and pains), so I added a couple of days of buffer that will kick in soon.
- /plank - This was my month’s resolution for January, and I’ve decided to keep the goal rolling for now. I have lowered the rate to 6 a week, so I can have a rest day, and extended the end date by a month so I can keep evaluating where it sits in my routine. As for my progress so far, I’m working towards being able to do a plank on my forearms and toes for a full minute (about 45 seconds for now); I can do a plank on my forearms and knees for 90 seconds. It’s a small thing that fits into my day, and I’m hoping it helps move in the direction I want.
- /readreadread - I redrew the graph in the graph editor again, to get the old rate closer to the line. I’m not really actively beeminding this since I have yearly ones, but it’s still nice to have that long-term history. I read more on average per day than I would’ve guessed, judging from the slope of the lines I drew, so that’s nice!
- /writethosereviews - I reduced the rate to 4/week during a kind of hectic period, but I’m keeping up with it better at the moment, so I upped the rate to 6/week again.
- I said I’d reduce some of my extra safety buffer, and did so on these goals: /weeklyreview, /weighingin, /dailyfocusfinder, /writethosereviews, /esomeprazole
By next week, I definitely want to have decided on what I’ll do for my February new month resolution goal. I think I might try out doing morning pages, after reading Roland Allen’s The Notebook: A History of Thinking on Paper. I keep a journal digitally (in the old LiveJournal tradition, but not on there!), and tried for a while to keep a private journal longhand as well… but fitting in both at the end of my day just didn’t work out well. But having a habit to start the day with might be nice as a way of building up a morning routine that tells my brain “hey, time to get ready for work!”
I’m also tempted to create a goal linked with Lichess, but I’m still working through the “learn” section, and the integration is more for playing actual games. I’ve dabbled in learning chess before, on and off, and it’s not been a habit that ‘stuck’… and I don’t think I’m very good at it. Maybe a future goal, though!
Unfortunately, this week got fairly derailed right off the bat by the death of my wife’s grandfather… and his funeral just five days later, in another country from us. We got things worked out, but obviously stuff got disrupted (I headed off to my parents’ house again, since we live in the middle of nowhere and my wife took the car), I needed to add breaks, etc.
I did at least get my February New Month’s Resolution goal set up as planned, more about which below!
- /morningpages - As I mentioned before, this goal is for writing three pages of stream-of-consciousness, whatever’s on my mind, more or less first thing on a morning. For now it’s set to run just through February, and has a bit of buffer since the goal isn’t officially starting yet. That said, I’ve been enjoying the habit so far, though I consistently underestimate how long it takes to write three pages! I guess this one is highly variable depending on your handwriting and the spacing of your lines: my handwriting is small, and I use narrow lines. Still, three pages is just a rule of thumb, and I find three pages is enough that I start getting out of just thinking about what I need to do today, and working out feelings or ideas on the page. I wrote a little more about the plan and goal setup in the New Month’s Resolutions thread.
Changes to existing goals:
- /tody, /weighingin - Some breaks added quickly for the fact that I was away from home.
- /lshtm_time - This one also needed a break because I wasn’t able to work on my essays while I was away… Someone forgot their textbooks, oops! Plus, research sucks without my second screen and the macros I’ve programmed on my gaming mouse and gaming keyboard, which I do not use for gaming.
- /lshtm_nutrition, /lshtm_bacterial - These goals were for studying each section of my course book, and both were finally completed last week!
I’m trying to close my posts each week with a goal-related task for the coming week, this year. This week I think I’d like to get some kind of new stepping-stone-to-better-fitness goal in place: probably for redoing the 200 situps training programme, because that’s something I’ve done before and it provides another point in my day around which I can start to crystallise some more exercise habits (while not being a particularly important/useful end in itself). I think I probably have an archived goal for it, so I might restart that… or start fresh, shiny and new. Either way, that’s my task for the week ahead.
I’ve been having a bit of a meh week, perhaps because I’m working really hard on an assignment. I was told that my original plan was terrible and I’d get a bad grade, so possibly I’m overcompensating… but I dislike doing badly, so I’m going all out to try and improve things, so I can get a better grade. We’ll have to see how it goes!
- /stopbyseven - I’ve had really bad time management this week, so… ouch. There were extenuating circumstances, but still, mostly the circumstances were “I didn’t prioritise my time right”.
- /200situps - As promised last week, I’ve created a new goal for following the 200 situps training program. It’s something I’ve done before as a way of working a little bit more activity into my day in between work, reading, raiding, etc. The rate is 3/week; I will also need to do an “exhaustion test” (as many situps as I can) every other week, but I’ll just record that with a 0 for the sake of ease.
- /focus - It’s been a while since I used Focusmate a lot, but right now it’s a tool that’s working well for me. I’m primarily hoping to do one session a day working on my essay… but obviously one can’t differentiate what counts on Beeminder based on what the session was about, so I’ve set the rate a little higher than 1/day to account for the other sessions I’ve been doing for stuff like “helping me settle down to read”, “getting my Beeminder goals squared away by end of workday”, etc.
Changes to existing goals:
- /ironandoj - I got off-schedule with this one by a couple of days, and then decided to make it urgent for the next day by ratcheting it. So now I’m riding the bright red line on this one, rather than maintaining buffer, because it’s an easy one to complete as long as I remember it in time.
I don’t have any immediate right now plans around my goals, but I do need to start thinking about what kind of goal I might make for March. Maybe it’s time to give that chess goal a try? If not via Lichess, then a manual goal for doing practice exercises? Or maybe something else will come up soon, but I’d like to try and keep my eyes peeled for that this week.
I’m honestly surprised I had no derailments this week, as it was a bit of a rough one for me, with insomnia and headaches out the wazoo. I’d say I have no idea what that’s about, but I’m probably being stressed out by my assignment.
I’ve been thinking as planned about what goal I might start for March… and I wonder if it’s time to start up a goal I’d been meaning to start at the beginning of the academic year, which is to read a scientific paper each week and really ensure I understand the contents (or find a place to ask questions if I don’t). Of course, I’m doing a lot of reading at the moment ready for an assignment, but that’s very targeted, and I’d like to read a bit more wildly (albeit still in my field of infectious diseases).
Changes to existing goals:
- /2024reading_sav, /2024reading_sprint, /2024pages - Back when my eye was injured, I asked support to put breaks into these two goals because I couldn’t read. It took me some time to get properly back on track, but at the weekend I managed to catch up and stay on track enough to edit the graphs back to their original position, without derailing. Hopefully I can keep up now!
- /earning & /bsupport - Ratcheted and x-mins changed for my new pay period!
For the week ahead, I want to take a look at my goals and decide if they’re all necessary and whether any are adding unneeded stress. Basically, what does each one add for me, and is it a net good? Maybe I’ll make no changes, but it’s important sometimes to make sure my goals are still serving me.
I kind of expected to be archiving a few goals after doing the review I promised last week, but I ended up deciding on an archive for only one, made another one harder, and created a whole new goal to supplement where I’ve got a little weak around a different goal. More on that below!
- /todyburndown - In looking at my goal for clearing my Tody list, I identified that I’m not happy about my number of lingering household tasks that this goal doesn’t push me to do (because I’ve defined it as “only tasks due today”, and it’s not due absolutely every day). So this goal is going to get me back to zero tasks due on Tody (isolating my backlog), and then the existing goal becomes “must zero” again. This means me taking responsibility for Lisa’s tasks as well, but we got things done better back when I viewed it that way. I’ve started it at 20 tasks, which gives me buffer since I see 17 uncompleted tasks in Tody right now, and I’ve set a fairly arbitrary and generous end-date of March 10th.
Changes to existing goals:
- /inhaler - In my goal review, I felt this one actually isn’t pushing me hard enough. My rate was around 3/day when I need to take 4/day, meaning it was okay for my compliance to be really bad. I’ve pushed it up to 3.5/day.
- /healthierchoice - This goal was a nice idea, and helpful to identify some stuff I was doing that was counterproductive. That said, once I created some specific goals that push me to do the kind of thing I meant for this goal to encourage, it began to feel a bit superfluous. So I’m archiving it now.
- /ironandoj - I procrastinated this one so hard that it felt like it’d be cheating to do it (even though the deadline’s technically midnight), since I’m supposed to take my iron supplements early in the day. So I let it derail, making sure I’d adjusted the respite to 0 so it’d be due the next day.
By this time next week, I want to set up my March goal for New Month’s Resolutions. I’m pretty sure that’ll be my idea for reading scientific papers. I should also post my thoughts about the goal I created for February and any changes I want to make if I’m going to keep it (spoiler: I’m pretty sure I am, at least for now). Maybe I’ll also do an update on my January goal, which I ultimately kept.