Consistency, Beeminder

Love the podcast, it’s great inspiration.

A recommendation both for David and Mike and for fellow listeners:

I’ve never heard you talk about beeminder.com, which has helped me enormously recently as a means of consistently sticking to things you want to do more or less of on a regular basis – I mention this app specifically, because despite there being other superficially similar ones out there, as far as I know it’s currently in a category by itself because of the combined effect of a small set of important ideas behind it.

Caveat: I don’t personally use the app, though I use its principles quite directly every day. If you want to try those ideas, I think you certainly want to use the app – I’m a weird case in not using it (I’m a programmer and hacked up my own version).

Specifically:

Beeminder is like “don’t break the chain” because:

  • it turns long-term plans into daily hard-edged goals

but it’s more forgiving and adaptable because:

  • cumulative charts mean you don’t have to do it every day or the same amount every day
  • “precommit to recommit” means the default is to forgive yourself your failures
  • the “akrasia horizon” means you can adapt / change your mind, while still “tieing yourself to the mast”

They also have a lot of “auto-data” integrations with various services and devices.

The important part, in my opinion, is NOT that they charge you money: it’s very easy for that to steal all your attention because wow they take your money when you fail. Don’t be distracted by that too much, the other ideas are great! If you don’t want to have much (/any?) money at stake, there is a setting to not increase the amount at stake after each “derail” – and I think the starting amount is 0 dollars (?), though honestly if you’re using their service you should surely not try to do them out of fair profit from their hard work. They deal very honestly and straightforwardly in their blog with the obvious criticism that they profit by your failures – they are right, they’re providing a hugely useful service and people just wouldn’t stick with them if they weren’t.

Their blog and forum are great to better understand the ideas behind it and how to use it.

Anti-disclaimer: I have no relationship with them other than having chatted with them online and shamelessly stealing their ideas.

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