What's the best way to beemind ______?

The best way to beemind something depends on a lot of factors! Everyone is different, has different goals, and cares more or less about different metrics to accomplish those goals. It often takes a few false starts to figure out what you care about most, as well as what you can actually reasonably accomplish alongside the rest of your life. We absolutely encourage you to use your ability to delete any goal in its first 7 days in order to take as many tries as you need to get the goal set up in a way that works for you.

Having said that... we have some recommendations based onfrom speaking to thousands of users over the last decade or so and seeing which goals succeeded and which haven't (yet!). You can also see some full examples of how exactly to set up your goal in the Example Goals linked on the overview page! Or for more general thoughts on what makes a good beemindable metric, check out our old blog post on what to (bee)mind.

If you're having trouble narrowing down the right metric and we don't have any specific examples (or you've tried our suggestions already), Nicky's blog post on Beeminding the Right Thing might be handy. They discuss their process of troubleshooting how to beemind their reading progress with trial and error, with applicability to other goals. On a similar vein, they also wrote about figuring out how to beemind brushing their teeth every morning.

All of that, and some more thoughts below? Yes, we do want to spoil you rotten!

All the things

Some users come to Beeminder and immediately set up dozens of goals that they want to do Every Day. Which is fine, and we're super-excited that they are super-excited!

But... if you weren't already flossing your teeth, waking up at 6am, eating 6 servings of veggies, reading 50 pages, working 2 hours on a side hustle, watching 1 educational talk, writing 750 words, and saving $10 per day before you found us, it's probably not going to be easy to make all those life changes at once. (And if you were doing all those things before, it's likely you don't even need to beemind them!) You might make it a few extra-motivated weeks before you have a down day that turns into a festival of weaseling.

We recommend starting out with a few goals that you care the most about, and start reasonably with the rates! If you currently eat 0 servings of veggies per day, 6 per day might be an unsustainable transition. You can change your goal rate in the future if you want to make things easier or harder, and you can quit a goal entirely with 7 days' notice. When you've found a good balance with your existing goals, add new ones — but remember to start them small!

Losing (or gaining) weight

Creating a weight goal with no supporting activity goals is usually not a recipe for success. It's often easiest to beemind things you have direct control over. Like how much sugar you're eating, or how many minutes you spend doing cardio, or how much water you drink. You don't exactly have direct control over your weight. And it's a huge bummer to do all the right things, but still end up derailing a weight goal because your body just wasn't losing as fast as the rate you set! But over time, if you do all the right things, it'll usually move in the right direction.

We recommend creating a weight goal with a super-modest slope. Just -0.1 or -0.2 pounds per week, even! (A goal to ensure that you step on the scale regularly is not a bad idea, either: our meta goals are handy for that, paired with a weight goal.) Then you can supplement that goal with some steeper Do More or Do Less goals for the activities that will cause you to lose weight: exercise more, eat less sugar, achieve a caloric deficit, etc. You'll always know what you need to do to stay on track for these goals, and you have complete control over whether or not you do it. If you keep at it over time, the weight goal will take care of itself.

This is one of the most common Beeminder goals, so we recommend some relevant blog posts from workerbees: Bee's Guide To Beeminding Weight Loss and Philip's more general How I Use Beeminder! (We also have more blog posts that touch on weight-loss in some way: you can check them out using the weight-loss tag!)

It's also possible that what you really need is a goal to track your weigh-ins: being conscious of the metric might be enough. In that case, you could have a weight goal with a super relaxed weight, and combine it with a Metaminder goal to ensure you weigh in every day (or every week).

Reading books

You can use an Odometer goal if you have a premium subscription and you want to enter page number datapoints to track pages read (this will only work if you're not tracking multiple books at one time!). You can reset the odometer by entering a 0 to start a new book without derailing yourself!

Otherwise, we recommend using a Do More goal to track the number of pages you've read, time spent reading, number of books finished, etc.

If you're a user of The StoryGraph, we even have an integration with them which can track number of pages read. If you're really keen, you can also track number of books read -- you'd just have to ask support for help in getting that goal set up.

Wake up (or go to bed) on time

You can create a Do More goal and set the deadline to the latest time you want to wake up. The reminder start time needs to be earlier than your deadline, so you might want to set it to your "first alarm time" — Beeminder can send you your reminders as additional buzzes to get up! When you wake up, submit a 1 to the goal. If you don't submit the 1 early enough (e.g., if you sleep through your alarm...), your goal will derail!

The earliest you can set the deadline right now is 7am. Times before 6am will sort of work, but you'll be "off" by one day in your data tracking: a 5:30am wakeup on September 2nd will be logged in Beeminder on September 1. Deadlines between 6am and 7am are not currently possible.

Same applies for going to bed, but submit the datapoint when you're settling into bed instead!

Thomas Frank has a classic post about how to beemind waking up on time with a Do-Less goal, if you're interested in automating it.

Never do a thing

We recommend starting with a Do More goal to "not do the thing" with a rate of 7 days per week. Submit a 1 every time you have a day without doing the thing, and a 0 if you did do the thing that day.

Another approach (if you have Beeminder premium) is to create a Do Less goal to "do the thing" with a rate of 0 days per week. Submit a 0 every time you have a day without doing the thing, and a 1 if you did do the thing that day. Both are totally valid and will work fine, but Do More goals are available to everyone. Don't forget if you're using a Do Less goal that we use Pessimistic Presumptive Reports to make sure you do enter the data every single day!

(Whether or not we think "doing never" is the best idea in the first place is a different issue! Cold turkey really works for some and really does not work for others, so give your goal rate some serious thought before defaulting to "never." A rate of 6/week gives you a chance to gain some buffer if you slip occasionally... or even a rate of 3 or 4, if you want to start gently. You can always increase the rate later!)

I'm really stuck! How do I beemind this specific thing not mentioned here?

The Beeminder forum is a really good place to chat with other people about how they've implemented their goals, get advice on how to make something you're envisioning work, and so on.

If you're having trouble figuring out a workable metric, Beeminder's Support Czar has also written two blog posts showcasing how they did troubleshooting for certain types of goals that weren't working for them, and their process might help you to troubleshoot your own goals: Beeminding the Right Thing: A Bookcase Study & Troubleshooting My Toothbrush.

Keywords: newbees, ideas for beeminding, metrics to mind

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