What categories of goal do we have?

@erickthered I’m hesitant to recommend a new subforum.

What’s held me back from posting here about my goals is simply–what would be most useful? Should I post one post per category of goal? One post for all my goals?


The featured goals list is cool, but I agree that some kind of collection of “how-to-track-X” would be useful. Most people don’t note how their data entry engine works, so the feature goals don’t teach you how to set up your own.


I think we can do this ourselves.

What categories of goals do we have?

I have:

  • Inbox goals (Email, pocket)
  • Process Backlog (pocket, getting up to date on a podcast)
  • Weight loss
  • Physical Fitness
  • Spend time on things that are important that I end up neglecting (home projects, open source projects, cleaning my workshop, reading hard technical books about my craft, reading in general)
  • Language learning and maintenance
  • Stopping bad habits (cuticle picking, swearing)

If others think it’s reasonable, we can make posts on general categories of goals, and discuss how we track them. This has already been done for some things.


This would be so helpful! Some goal types that come to my mind are:

  • Sleep
  • Food consumption (or specific type of food, like sugar)
  • Spending or budgeting
  • Productive vs non-productive time (I’m especially interested in ways to track productive time that is not at a computer)
  • Socializing/Making new friends
  • Recurring household tasks (take out the garbage, clean the chicken coop, etc)
  • Quality time with kids
  • Time spent alone

Looking at my list, I think a lot of it could be done with TagTime. I’d like to hear about other options too, though. Also, not sure how to categorize this one, but I have a goal to bike or walk more than I drive and would be very interested to see if and how others have set up goals like that.


OK, here is how I think of the categories for my goals.

Long Term Effects
These are things that you want to change, and the goal you are tracking is the effect, not the actions you are taking to get there. The most obvious one is weight loss, and that’s the only one of these things I have. I would also consider paying down debts or saving money in this category. Since the daily value is often not easily directly controlled, a long term goal with a low slope seems appropriate. On the other hand taking a break or adjusting the slope is not to be done lightly. I only plan on messing with the yellow road if some major event occurs.

Due to the nature of these pairing them with other goals that measure specific actions you want to take seems like a great idea.

These are either things you want to do more of, or bad habits to do less of. I track these as do more goals, where the target is either to have done the thing or avoided the bad thing that day, with slopes of 5-7 per week. For these I have flossing, avoiding junk food, and exercising. My floss goal is the one that intrigues me the most. It’s the second goal I ever created, takes almost no effort/willpower to do, and yet I’m pretty sure if I dropped the goal I would not do it as much.

The thing with habits is that you can develop new ones, but you also have the old way of doing things in your brain, and even when you feel like you have absorbed a new one it’s very easy to transition back out. If you already have the habit these goals can be very lightweight. If you are trying to develop new ones it takes time an effort and you should be very sparing about adding these in.

There are numerous integrations for various types of specific exercise goals, but since I do multiple activities it seems best to just have my single binary do more each day.

Probably not the best word, but these are chores or whatever that should get done, but you don’t really want to spend more time than you need to. I had a goal to spend 30 minutes a week going through all the papers in my study for a month or so until I finished. This was something that I had been wanting to do for a while and noticed that I was putting it off. A more straightfoward version would be to just spend more time cleaning house.

A fixed amount of time a week seems great for these. If it’s something that you wind up only doing on the weekends when you have more time, Beeminder has some issues capturing that precisely.

These are for learning new habits, stretching yourself, etc. These are short term more serious undertakings. This could be taking on online course, short term exercise goals, etc.

Currently I have a challenge for eating a low salt diet for a week. I want to see how much that affects my blood pressure. Beeminder isn’t that great about goals that are literally as short as a week, since you have the ability to delete them, but that hasn’t been an issue.

Mental Engagement
There are many things in life that I want to do more of, and will do if I’m thinking about them but also can easily forget about. . So I just want to have some goals that keep these things in mind and have me doing some of them. These are often not that well defined, so I’m not sure about the best way to Beemind them. For two of these I use the Trello integration for.

I have a basic todo list, and a goal to move 10 things to done each week. This blurs the line with the Maintenance category a bit, since sometimes these are just household chores. The items range from very simple like adding something to a shopping list to errands that take up to an hour and of course my list has whatever combination of what I thought needed to be done and things I wanted to try that was on my mind recently.

I also have a goal to experiment with cooking/eating new things integrated with Trello. The goal is to add two new recipes/foods a week. I have them categorized by meal with labels for how healthy they are, and the idea is both to be trying to things and to make it easier to plan to eat healthy.

I also have a goal to write down computer game design ideas. I don’t have time to actually implement them all, but I want to have ideas ready for when I do. I currently have this as a goal to spend 15 minutes a week, but I’m not completely happy with how this is working. In particular it’s easy to get very far ahead. It’s also not something that can be done as efficiently on demand. Still having this goal seems better than not having it.