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'Both Sides' logo from SMBC Theater

Here’s a suggestion we hear from time to time: “Let me mind both sides of the Yellow Brick Road!” For example, maybe you want to neither sleep too much nor too little. Conceptually you could do this with a goal that was a combination of Do More and Do Less. You’d be penalized for going off the Yellow Brick Road in either direction. Some people just can’t get enough of Beeminder’s iron fist of motivation.

But I contend that it shouldn’t really ever be necessary to beemind both limits. You’re probably only akratic about one limit — search your feelings, you know it to be true! — so pick Do More or Do Less and just be on your honor to also not go too far into the good side.

Basically: Beeminder minds the “bad” side and you mind the “good” side yourself.

“Beeminder minds the ‘bad’ side and you mind the ‘good’ side yourself.”

For the case of sleeping neither too much or too little, for example, you can have Beeminder force you to sleep enough and then just start setting an alarm if you get above your road. Beeminder is still providing guidance on both limits, just that only one limit has teeth.

Or maybe you want to force yourself to get to bed by a certain time, and also not sleep in too late. But then just tracking hours of sleep doesn’t suffice — you really have to track both bed time and wake time separately since it’s fundamentally two different variables you’re minding.

Of course sometimes what people actually want is to beemind a daily minimum. They don’t like that they can get a big safety buffer and then coast for a while because they were extra good before. The thing to do in that case, though, is to throw away some of your extra safety buffer with the Ratchet feature.

Actually getting penalized for going into the good side is, in our experience, never necessary. Of course, if you think we’re wrong we want to hear about it!


Image: SMBC Theater. Thanks to Stefan Noack (@noackstefan) [UPDATE: Here’s the good stuff] who suggested this idea and also was the first to alert us to our heartbleed vulnerability two weeks ago.