So as you might have gathered I really like beeminder. A proper advocacy post will follow at some point, but for now this is just a report on a new experiment I’m going to be performing with it.
One of the things I don’t like about beeminder is the eep days. That is, days where you’re about to fall off and need to do some panicked activity to prevent you from doing so. In principle they’re fine – they provide good motivation and remind you of your duties as a good anti-procrastinator – but there are two main problems I have with them:
- They tend to bunch together. Generally if I’m getting eep days it’s because I’m falling behind on ability to meet my goals, usually do to energy or time constraints, so I can get several goals eeping at once or in short succession.
- They tend to reoccur. The problem is that goals are necessarily set at a reasonable daily rate, so necessarily if I just do a reasonable daily rate on an eep day it will reoccur tomorrow.
It should be relatively easy to prevent eep days from occurring. You just work a bit extra when you have the energy to do so to build up a buffer, then resume a normal rate and you’ve got this nice comfort zone.
Of course, it doesn’t work out that way. I naturally procrastinate until things become pressing and the buffer gradually dwindles away and the eep days happen.
Hmm. What I need is some sort of tool to stop procrastinating. Say, a way to be reminded of it and penalised for it.
Do you know of such a thing?
Oh, right. There’s this thing called beeminder. I could beemind my beeminding.
So I wrote a simple script to add a smooth backpressure to beeminder. The way it works is that I have a “Do less” goal (I’m really enjoying the do less goals) which tracks how many goals I have with less than a week left till I fall off the road each day. This goal is set to allow me 7 due-goal-days a week, so I can safely have one goal which is approaching due but if I have two then I will exceed my allowed rate and rapidly head towards failing my pledge.
I currently have two goals which are coming due (read more non-fiction and go to the gym more), so I’d better hurry up and get one or both of those sorted if I don’t want to derail.
Edit: Note that I’ve changed this to only apply to “hustler” (do more) type goals, as I found it didn’t work well with “do less” goals.