I’ve recently been back n’ forth’ing with co-founder Danny Reeves through email.
And one of my comments struck him as worthy of posting on the forums.
So here I am, sharing what he found worthy enough to be shared with my fellow Beeminders.
A bit of preface:
I started using Beeminder because I was getting a bit “too comfortable” with my current lifestyle.
(In fact, even if did absolutely nothing for a few months… I’d be still be a-okay - no consequences for laziness at all)
And as I shamelessly learned, this is DEADLY to your productivity levels.
I’ve tried numerous tactics to overcome this (e.g. setting deadlines, using focusmate.com, even hiring an accountability coach with mediocre results)…
But could never quite find something that worked long-term.
It seems I was unable to “trick” my brain and body into the idea that it was “necessary” to work on my goals… no matter how important they are to me.
(This is one reason self-imposed deadlines never work with me, either - it’s a “false” deadline with no real repercussions)
Then I came upon the “Death Grounds” idea.
I saw this mentioned in the book “33 Strategies of War” by Robert Green and it really stuck with me.
The idea is that when you put yourself in a situation that’s “do or die,” you’ll find the “power within” to succeed at any cost.
(Think of pulling all-nighters to study for a test)
So when you’re suddenly left with no choice but to make it work… you somehow make it work.
…Well, I liked the idea but HATED the setup for it.
And that’s because I am NOT a fan of last minute rushes… or truly being left with no recourse and needing to “fight” your way out.
So I adapted this approach to Beeminder, here’s how:
The first thing I did was created the “stakes” portion of the “Death Ground” method.
I did this with pledges.
I have 3 goals at the moment, pledged at $30, $90, and $270.
(Good, now I’m aware that there are consequences for laziness and inaction)
But step number two is equally important:
Creating momentum through “daily” actions.
So rather than long-distance goals or even weekly quotas…
I focus on DAILY habits instead - meaning I have to complete certain tasks each day instead of looking towards any future goals.
So I can’t rely on days off at all - I MUST maintain daily momentum or I’ve gotta pay the piper.
(Weekends off seems to be okay, though)
This has given me a sort of “sweet spot” in terms of daily tension:
I can’t not think of working on my daily tasks because of the high cost of failure… but at the same time, I’m not overwhelmed to the point of being unable to think straight or work on said tasks.
More focus. More productivity. And especially more efficiency as well.
(Each and every day)
So I really can’t complain.
Okay, now here are the key elements that make it work:
- High stakes (i.e. pledges that actually make you feel a bit nervous to gamble with), and…
- Daily habits/quotas (because short and immediate feedback loops keep your thoughts focused on the NOW)
…And that’s the gist of the adapted “Death Ground” strategy.
Now, having said all that:
If any of you have done (or do) something similar, please lemme know.
I’d like to get some more ideas of how I can expand on this approach as well.