So I have a Waterfall 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.
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?
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.
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.