One of the Best Decisions I've Ever Made: Beeminder

Posted on December 27, 2016

Starting to use Beeminder late in 2015 is, no exaggeration, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’m much happier and have gotten much more done than I ever did before. I’m gonna be cute and call it Willpower as a Service. If you ever procrastinate or don’t do things you know you should, I highly recommend it.

Here’s how it works: you set a goal to do something and a rate at which you want to do it. Whenever you do it, you type how much you did into the site. If you don’t do it, they charge your credit card. You can decrease the rate or quit whenever you like, but it’s always delayed a week from when you do so.

Whenever I tell someone this, they laugh. It’s sounds ridiculous, but it’s amazingly effective. What it does is turn long term desires into short term ones. For example, I have a goal to work on projects that will make me more attractive to employers 20 hours a week. (It used to be working on Idris, but I wasn’t getting enough interviews.) I also have a bicycling goal (5 miles/wk) and one working on my software quality causes project (10 hrs/wk). To paraphrase Dorothy Parker, I hate programming, I love having programmed. I enjoy solving problems, it’d be satisfying to improve the state of programming languages and getting the respect of my peers is great, but those rewards are all intermittent and far in the future. Most of the time it’s a slog. When the work is boring and frustrating it’s much easier and more fun to just fuck off and watch Netflix all day. Beeminder turns my long term desires into short term ones. I could watch something instead of working, but it’d cost me 30 bucks. A month into the future, I’m much happier if I worked on my projects than if I rewatched The West Wing for the billionth time.

It also features extremely satisfying graphs: empirical pl graph

It’s really really satisfying to see all the work you’ve done.

This post isn’t sponsored or anything, I just think you might benefit from it.

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