Using cheap Roombas as commitment devices


A while ago I got a cheap, preowned roomba as a means to force me into keeping my floor tidy.
And it works! It works really well indeed.
But why not make a Beeminder goal for just tidying up every day? I tried that and for me it doesn’t work. “Tidiness” is not a hard metric. When is it tidy enough? It just gets you into heap of arguing with your acratic self.
On the other hand, a robot vacuum will effectively enforce tidiness because anything that’s on the floor and not fixed to something else will be picked up and moved to some other place and it quickly educates you to have no more stuff sitting on your floor.
I nicknamed my Roomba Rambo because it will happily play with anything that I forgot on the floor, drag it around, pull cables out, …
So I made an accompanying goal to let my roomba run every day in all rooms and that’s it. Ever since then I easily maintain a consistent level of tidiness in my flat and it’s admittedly fun to watch the little bugger move around.


I don’t recommend spending money on a new Roomba. Get a used one. The iRobot Roombas last forever. Replacement batteries are dirt cheap and come with new brushes and whatnot. I recently got my parents a Roomba for about €30, threw in a new battery for another €15 and this makes it already the third battery in it and it’s not showing any signs of age. They love it.

I DO recommend getting an actual Roomba though. Or something of equal quality. They are nearly indestructible, you will likely find a preowned one nearby, they clean very well and lastly their random floor cleaning pattern works better than laser scanning “smart” navigation. Why? Robot vacuums have these little rotating brushes in the front that are great for cleaning corners but tend to shoot little bits of dirt across your floor. A random cleaning will sooner or later pick up that misguided bit of dirt. A “smarter” cleaning strategy however will know which area is (supposedly) clean already and avoid it, leaving dirt in there. Also they are more expensive.

At that price tag you won’t be getting any fancy timer features or remote control but nobody needs a remote control for a robot that was never designed to be remotely operated. I wouldn’t mind a timer that starts my robot at a fixed time – at the same time (pun intended) it’s not worth getting a new one just for this and with my very irregular time schedule I wouldn’t get much use out of that feature anyway but YMMV.


My Roomba is a commitment device, because it goes off at certain time and it’s super loud and makes me want to leave the house :grin:


For instance today I was lazy about putting up this extension cord and I didn’t think it would bother my Roomba and… well I guess it really didn’t because when he found it he just dragged it around without complaining:

Despite the cord having quite the sizeable plug:



I hear you :stuck_out_tongue:


But it’s definitely something I noticed too.

It forces me to keep the floor clean, which solves more than half of my messiness problems. Suddenly it’s easier to do laundry, because everything is in the basket. Suddenly cables are where they’re supposed to be. Suddenly bringing out trash is easy, because all trash is in the can. Suddenly bringing away refundable bottles is easy, because they’re in a bag.

And yes… Before roomba I was essentially living on something resembling a dump (at times at least).
I have a scanning thingy, technically the Roborock. But same effect. It’s basically magic.