Switching from late owl to early bird deadlines

I have recently concluded that I need to switch the deadline of some of my goals from midnight to 6am. Partly this post is to explain why, to hopefully generate some discussion, and partly I want to ask to make sure I understand how the transition is going to work.

First, the why: I currently have a bunch of goals with a default deadline of midnight, and some evenings I’m staying up until 11, 11:30, or midnight to dispatch some goals. However, I don’t want to do this any more: I’m less productive late at night, for one thing, and more importantly, it puts stress on my relationship with my wife. She is very understanding, but greatly appreciates going to bed together.

The “obvious” solution would be to change some of my deadlines to the end of the workday, but that wouldn’t work for me at all, since my job as a college professor features a wildly varying schedule. Some days, I have plenty of time to get lots of stuff done; some days, I barely have time to eat lunch because I spend the whole day teaching and meeting with students and colleagues; and it can even sometimes be hard to tell which kind of day it will be in advance. There’s no way I would be able to plan far enough in advance to avoid derailing, and besides, skating the edge is actually really helpful for me: Beeminder tells me what I should be working on and I do it. I don’t want the stress of having to plan that far in advance even if I could.

It finally dawned on me that the real solution (I think!) will be to set some of my key deadlines to 6am, before the rest of my family typically wakes up. Goals that are going to derail the next morning will still be red all day, so I’ll have the visual/visceral cue that I should be working on them, and can hopefully dispatch them by the end of the day. If/when I don’t, I can estimate how long I need to dispatch them, set my alarm for an appropriate interval before 6am, go to bed early with my wife, and then get up and knock out the beemergencies in a focused push that will hopefully leave me feeling energized and productive as I start my day.

I’m curious to hear anyone’s thoughts, or if anyone has ever done anything like this.

I also want to make sure I understand the technical details of the transition. Does a 6am deadline count as super late (i.e. part of the previous day) or super early? If I change my deadline from midnight to 6am, will I get an extra six hours of safety buffer on that goal, or will it eliminate 18? Any other gotchas I should be aware of?


Love this! The answer to the technical question is that 6am is the latest possible night owl deadline so it will count as the previous day and you are in fact giving yourself an extra 6 hours of safety buffer.

(Only other constraint is that you can’t snooze the deadline as we call it when you’re already up against it. Specifically, if it’s within 6 hours of the deadline, you can’t push the deadline later.)

If you wanted a deadline later in the morning than 6am then it would have to be an early bird deadline and you’d be taking away nearly 18 hours of safety buffer. Either way the goals would be red for most of the previous day – as soon as you were within 24 hours of the deadline.

Definitely let us know if you encounter any technical weirdness. We definitely want this use case to be smooth!


Thanks, that makes sense! I thought I remembered something about 6am being a cutoff but I wasn’t sure which side of the cutoff 6am itself fell on. I’ll definitely let you know how it goes.

The next question is whether I go whole hog and transition all the relevant goals at once, or whether I do them slowly, one at a time. Normally I would say to take things slow, but then I might end up in the situation where I have to both stay up late and get up early… (and if I just stay up late to finish the “early” goal to avoid this, then I may as well not have transitioned it to having a 6am deadline).


So I’ve been doing this for about a week so far (I decided to just transition all the goals at once, which was definitely the right choice) and so far it’s been great. I’ve often had from 1-4 early morning beemergencies but have been able to knock them out. Brain.fm has helped too.

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