A little over a month ago I wrote about my experiment in triangular beeminding for reducing drinking. This is basically a one month progress report for how it’s gone:
The first note is that it has done exactly what I designed it to do, in that it has significantly reduced the number of nights where I have a large number of drinks. So there’s that.
However I’m getting hit by the perverse incentives this goal has set up hard. I think this is more a function of this sort of very tight do less goal structure than it is the drinking, as I found more or less the same when I was tracking coffee like this last year, but this goal setup seems to have more perverse incentives than typical.
The following are the perverse incentives I’ve encountered, with patches where I’ve figured them out.
- If I derail it becomes a “free day” where I can drink as much as I want. This actually causes me to drink significantly more than I otherwise would. Patch: On a suggestion from @drtall any data points after the roll-over are counted against the next day. So far the threat of this has been enough to stop me going over.
- My drinks have crept up in size as a result of this because the unit is “drink” irrespective of size of drink. Patch I am currently about to try: Measuring units instead. I’m worried this may be harder to figure out on the fly, but hopefully it will be OK.
- I do drink slightly more days of the week than I otherwise would have because one point of drinks is so “cheap” in comparison it feels a shame not to. I’m still not drinking every night, but I think I have two nights off per week right now in compared to 3-4 previously. I do not yet have a patch but I’m considering creating a second goal which just tracks total units per week and keeping that low too so that a day has a higher perceived cost. If I do this it may make sense to retire the triangle units and use square units (triangles are a multiple of n^2 + n, so if I’m already minding n it makes more sense to mind n^2 rather than n^2 + n. This isn’t quite true because different weightings but I don’t really want to think about those different weightings).
I think those are the main ones.
Anyway, as a result of the above I think the amount I drink as measured in units / week has probably gone up slightly since starting this goal even though the intended effect of fewer days drinking >= 3 drinks has been achieved.
I’m going to continue experimenting and see if I can patch this to make it work, as given that it has achieved the desired goal I think it’s worth seeing if I can achieve the desired goal without the side effects, but for now I remain on the fence about its validity as a technique.