I must admit to being quite excited about Beeminder. As I wrote a couple of days ago, I have started two Beeminder goals, one for weight loss and the other for longest distance walked. Two days in, both goals are going well. I’ve lost two pounds and did a 9 mile walk yesterday.
Starting off well is easy enough though - what is more difficult is keeping going. I think Beeminder will be excellent for that, but I’ve not yet proved it for myself. But looking at some of the graphs of progress made by subscribers and the Beeminder staff themselves, I can only describe them as amazing.
However as a time management “guru”, I naturally started thinking about how to make a complete time management system out of Beeminder. It would be too cumbersome to make a separate Beeminder goal for everything I’m working on at the moment. And even if I did, I’d probably spend more time entering the data and looking at the pretty graphs than I did doing the work.
I noticed a couple of attempts in this direction on the Beeminder site (and there may be more which I’ve missed). Team members plot the number of hours work they do working on developing Beeminder. That’s good, but hours worked doesn’t necessarily equate to productivity - though in their case I’m sure it does. They also track the number of improvements made to Beeminder (goal: one per day). And I noticed a mention of tracking how many “important jobs” were done each day.
These are still very focused on a few particular goals, and not on success at living all the many aspects of our lives. That’s not intended as a criticism. Focusing on one or two things and letting everything else find its own place is very effective. But I’d still like something more comprehensive.
And then it struck me that I already had the ideal answer in a time management game I’d written years before.
It’s extremely simple:
- Draw up a list of tasks you intend to do today, and award yourself one point for each task you succeed in doing. It’s important to define each task clearly so you’ve either done it or you haven’t.
- But here’s the catch - if you don’t succeed in doing all the tasks on your list, you score 0. No excuses accepted!
This is ideal for being tracked in Beeminder, and I think the way that Beeminder presents the results will turn this from an interesting exercise into a powerful means of keeping yourself on track. It forces you to consider what your priorities are for the day and also - perhaps even more importantly - forces you to consider what realistically you can get done. And as a bonus it forces you to control interruptions and “emergencies” so they don’t prevent you from achieving your goal for the day.
I’ve started up another Beeminder goal to track this. Today I’m going for 17 points (this blog post is one of them). The consequences of failure are unthinkable.