I first started using Beeminder back in April of 2012, and since then it's become an important part of my toolset. I still fall off the road more often than I'd like, but overall it's made a very positive impact.

Getting the most out of Beeminder

Over time I've noticed certain patterns emerging in the Beeminder goals I've tried:

  • Start small, get big – My biggest successes have come when I've started small and worked my way up. My biggest failures have come from trying to do much too soon. That just leads to falling off the road, getting frustrated and losing money.
  • Avoid time-based goals – I try to avoid things like "write for X minutes a day". When work gets busy I tend to enter full-on panic mode to get things done, and sometimes I'll end up spending my time on "filler" tasks in order to meet my goal. I still have a few time based goals, but I find them much harder to keep. Maybe that just means I need to manage my time better.
  • Automate where possible – If you can't automate, try and pick a measurement that doesn't take much effort such as "did you exercise today?" rather than "How many calories did you burn?" The idea here is to reduce as much resistance as possible.
  • Make a pledge – I can say with absolute certainty that having money on the line works wonders.

Isn't Beeminder just a crutch for people with no self-discipline?

Sort of. But in a good way.

I've found it difficult to accept that I have very little discipline in some areas of my life. Some things require constant effort, Beeminder acts as a nice kick up the bum for when I start slipping back into bad habits.

So far it's worked out pretty well.