Got a goal? The chances are that you have an aim in mind, whether it is visiting the gym three times a week, consuming fewer calories each day or writing a certain number of words before nightfall. Keeping to these goals can be tricky unless you have a little helping hand.
Some people can rely on self-discipline, but most of us need some encouragement to stay on the right track. Beeminder serves a great dual purpose, making possible to not only track the things you are doing to meet you goal, but also motivates you to do so.
Beeminder is a quite unique service although it may sound simple at first. The easiest way to learn how the site works and what it could do for you is to work with an example – it makes things much simpler to understand.
I have a goal to write a certain number of articles for AppStorm each week. Having a goal in my head is all well and good, but it’s also very easy to get distracted, lose track of how much has been done and, over time, get lazy and complacent.
I’ve set up a goal to write five article a week, and every time I complete one, it gets logged on a simple graph. Or a graph that looks simple – it does in fact hold a wealth of information. Most obvious are the points you plot each time you enter data, but the graph becomes more and more useful as you enter more and more information.
The main element you are interested in is the famous yellow brick road. This marks the shape you need to maintain on the graph to stick to your goal. If you do more than you intend to each day, you’ll gradually creep up above your yellow brick road and build up a number of safe days.
There’s also the interest name ‘skinny purple line’ which shows the general trend of your progress, while the similarly descriptive ‘turquoise swath’ which give a more accurate, averaged out view of your progress trend.
Stay On Track
So long as you stick to your goal and keep plugging in the data, you may well not need to worry about being pestered by Beeminder, but reminders are on hand to give you a gentle nudge when needed.
But Beeminder goes further than this. Should you stray from the yellow brick road you can unfreeze your account once without penalty. However, you will then need to pledge money by associating a card with your Beeminder account, and should you stray again, you’ll be charged – financial loss usually proves to be a great incentive!
Sign a contract with Beeminder and your card will be charged when you wander off the yellow brick road. Obviously, there will be occasions when you are not able to stick to your goal – going on vacation or a family emergency cropping up for instance – and there are safeguards available. You can adjust your goal a week in the future, so if you know that you are going away in a fortnight for a week, you can chance your goal accordingly. Should an emergency occur, you can get in touch with the Beeminder team who will consider your case and decide whether your graph should be unfrozen without charge.
The great thing about Beeminder is that there is some flexibility built in. You might say that you want to walk at least five miles every day – if you are unable to walk at all on one day, you should be easily able to stay on the yellow brick road by walking an extra mile on five other days throughout the week; as long as you average out to you goal, you should be OK.
Manual Vs Auto
Not all of the things that Beeminder can be used for require you to be quite so actively involved with the web site. There are a number of online services that tie into Beeminder and and fill in details on your behalf. If you are a fan of the idea of inbox zeroing, you can take advantage of the Gmail Zero project to help you out.
Similar automatic options are available for other popular services including RunKeeper and Trello and the data you generate will be automatically submitted to Beeminder through the apps you use to monitor your progress – so there are no excuses!
So what might you want to use Beeminder for? I’ve already highlighted a few examples, but in reality the site can be used to track and monitor any countable event. If there’s something you want to do a certain number of times a day, week, month or year, you can use Beeminder to record your progress and act as a voice of reason should you start to stray.
The way Beeminder works takes a little getting used to, and if you’re not serious about sticking to your goals you may well regard it as more of a chore than a help. But anyone who is dedicated, the service has dual role.
On one hand, Beeminder enables you to keep track of what you are doing, but it also encourages you to do things on a regular basis. It’s great to be able to log every time you meet your goal of performing a hundred sit ups before getting dressed for work, but the emails that you receive if you start to veer off the yellow brick road should be enough to give you the kick up the behind you need get back on track if you start to get a bit lazy.