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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Cool Tool - Beeminder

I came across a write up of and gave it a try.  This is a tool I just need to share.

BeeMinder (Sounds like Reminder) is really a service that helps you track data.  From the site: "BeeMinder tracks your progress towards your goals."

In my trial, I set up a goal of one pound of weight loss per week until Christmas.  Yes, I know that I am obese - but look - I'm making progress with Beeminder's help.  Here is my current chart:

The "Yellow Brick Road" describes my goal with upper and lower controls.  In this case, the lower control doesn't really come into play, but if I go over the top of the yellow brick road - then I've broken my commitment.

The data points are my daily inputs to Beeminder.  The process of reporting my daily weight is really well done.  Beeminder sends me a daily email, and I reply with the date (day only), my weight, and an optional comment.  Here is an example reply email.

Shortly after replying via email, Beeminder sends me a second email with a link to the updated graphic.  I often print these graphics and pin them to the wall above my desk - they are very motivating to me.

In addition to the yellow brick road and the data points, there are a few more items in the graphic:

1.  The skinny purple line is an exponentially weighted moving average with a low smoothing constant.  It is a good trend indicator and helps me deal with those days when my weight increases.

2.  The rose colored dots and line provide an optimistic view of my data (Think looking at the world through rose-colored glasses).


The dotted line one week out is the "akrasia horizon."  Beeminder sends us to Wikipedia for a complete definition of "akrasia," but my working definition is:

Akrasia:  The inability to favor positive long-term outcomes over immediate gratification

To overcome our tendency to be "akrasitic" Beeminder allows us to renegotiate our agreement, but the change may not start for seven days (that is, until after the "akrasia horizon.")

Summary:  For my first several days using the tool - Beeminder Rocks!

Thoughts for a future post - how can we use BeeMinder on our projects?

1 comment:

  1. Alan, thank you so much! You didn't talk about the best part though: what happens if you go off track... :) That's my vote for your next post! But lots of stuff to say about using Beeminder as a productivity tool, too.

    Thanks again for the awesome testimonial!

    Danny of Beeminder