Beeminder Forum

What do you think of this plan: certain daily scheduled tasks may be replaced by urgent ones

So I have a Waterfall :potable_water: of daily scheduled tasks. I have about 40 of these.

But sometimes I’ll have an urgent upcoming deadline. Like I have a brief due in a few days that takes priority over a lot of tasks.

So I marked some of my daily scheduled tasks with an R for Replaceable. For these tasks, I can and should do whatever urgent task I have for that time period. For instance, instead of spending 15 minutes working on my email backlog (my “emailbacklog” daily task), I’ll spend 15 minutes working on the brief that’s due soon, then count it as a datapoint for the “emailbacklog” task.

In keeping with Quantified Self, I note in the comments to the datapoint that it was replaced with whatever the urgent task was.

Thoughts? Feel free to flame me :fire:

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I like the thinking and especially figuring out how to make it compatible with the QS First principle!

My first thought is that this is the sort of thing that wants a Schelling fence, i.e., a bright line defining the criteria for swapping in an urgent task.


Well I’ve only designated certain tasks as replaceable. Basically I want to replace less urgent work tasks with more urgent ones, but leave the non-work tasks alone. I think as long as I’m always replacing a less urgent work task with a more urgent one, I should be ok and that should be a good enough Schelling fence. Am I missing something?

Another option is to just let the goals derail and call the derails non-legit. The advantage of that is that your graphs are more strictly accurate and it’s more QS.

The disadvantages are that doing that messes you up for a couple days until this issue is fixed: Request: hard commit to allow 0 mercy days

and also, it’s less motivating than being able to check off other tasks for each block of time I work on the urgent task.

I have a bunch of “blocks of time” tasks and I find it very motivating to substitute an equal block of time working on the urgent task and then check off the goal.

One way of looking at this issue could be that the goal might need to be modified so that instead of tracking time on dealing with a backlog, it’s for tracking time dealing with the day’s most urgent task, and when there’s nothing more urgent than the backlog, that’s when you do the backlog.

Although looking at it another way, if you do want to keep a goal for reducing your email backlog, that must be an important activity for you. Ideally, important activities wouldn’t be pushed aside to get something urgent done because that can lead to the important activities also becoming urgent or just not getting done at all (that’s one way that backlogs are created). If an urgent task prevents you doing your 15 minutes of email backlog, one option to consider is finding those 15 minutes somewhere else in the day so that you can still record a datapoint for actually working on the backlog. The threat of losing the pledge for the email backlog goal could motivate you to find those 15 minutes. If the goal is truly important to you, it might work better for you if it’s not diluted by allowing other actions to count towards it.


That’s exactly what I said, isn’t it? I do the urgent task when it’s there, and when there’s nothing more urgent, I do the backlog.

The problem is that the backlog is just one example. I have a dozen more taking up like 6 hours every day. They’re all important tasks but I don’t actually want to do them every day.

What do you think of this:

I’m going to echo what I said before, as well as what @narthur said here: If you don’t want to commit to doing something every day, don’t commit to doing it every day! Beeminder gives you the option of choosing the frequency of your commitment. Why not use this built-in feature of Beeminder, something that can even be considered on of the primary features of Beeminder, instead of all these workarounds?

If you have goals that are not in the red, then yes, you may well slack on them, not having the concrete deadline demanding that you do them today. That’s not so bad, you want to slack on them. As you say: doing them all would take up some 6 hours of the day, and you don’t really want to do all of them every day. That’s what you said you want! Why not have Beeminder reflect that?


Because under that system, I’d slack on them until the beemergency hits.

But what happens when the beemergency coincides with a scheduled event or an urgent deadline?

See, what I want is to do them every day, except on days where there’s some legit reason I can’t. I don’t know in advance what the frequency of that is, and I want to harness the power of beemergencies.

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Ok, so help me understand what you’re dealing with:

  1. You have a lot of things you want Beeminder to help you do. (60+ if I remember correctly?)
  2. Your job results in you having large blocks of time made unavailable to you without any advance notice. (Or do you? If so, how many days?)
  3. Ideally, you’d like to do most of these things only a few times a week.
  4. But if you create goals that only require say 3x a week, you’ll wait to do them until they are beemurgencies, preventing you from having the buffer you need to deal with #2.

Did I summarize the issue you’re facing accurately?



It varies. If it’s a client meeting or court hearing, I’ll usually have advance notice, but sometimes I’ll get phone calls or emails and have to deal with something right away.

I’d like to do them every day, except when I have some other thing I have to do. So that’ll vary between 3-7 days a week.