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Monday, April 06, 2015

The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Beeminding Checklists

Selfie by SethBahl from flickr (CC-NC)

I've been using beeminder for year and a half now, and I wrote about it previously many times.

A few things are extremely easy to quantify and beemind (canonical example is exercise - just use a stopwatch app on your phone), but such things are really an exception, and most of the things I wanted to change weren't easily quantifiable.

I tried a lot of approaches, all unsuccessfully - they generally took a lot of effort to track, and results were rather discouraging.

This year I tried something different - just a simple end-of-day checklist, number of ticks goes to a single beeminder task. Any major project, any "do this" or "don't do that" habit, they each get one box on the checklist.

And it's been working unreasonably well, compared with everything I tried previously, while taking much less tracking effort.

I keep my checklist and daily results in a text file (in a git repository etc.), but I can totally imagine that beeminder might one day add a checklist goal, where you can do all this online.

One difference between what I've been doing and what is the usual beeminder way is that any checklist adjustments (as it obviously won't stay the same forever) happen right away, not one week ahead. Technically you could use that to weasel out of approaching fail, but then you could redefine beer pong as exercise to avoid failing that, and it doesn't seem to be a serious problem.

So far I didn't bother giving different boxes different values - they're all worth 1 point, but that's a fairly straightforward extension of the system.

Or you could track percent of boxes ticked, which possibly makes more sense (and reduces potential weaseling) if checklist size keeps changing, but I didn't want another step in the process so I went for the straightforward option.


Noumenon said...

OK, I just signed up for BeeMinder, so either thank you for keeping it in my awareness, or f*** you for costing me $15!!

taw said...

Noumenon: Well, it's free if stick to your goals :-D

Noumenon said...

I'm not sure whether I will or not, so I posted both praise and cursing to cover either case.

Dollar Flipper said...

I'm still looking for something that's similar to your method. Few questions....

Are you tracking # of completed items or number of items added? And what is your target # of items per day?



taw said...

Dollar Flipper: Just +1 if I did anything about particular major issue. It's difficult to measure "how much" I did about it, so any progress counts equally.

That's of course not accurate measurement of progress, but it seems to work very well in terms of motivation.