Is Beeminder Too Stressful?

Thursday, October 13, 2022
By dreeves

DALL-E image: a painting of some stressed out bees

Beeminder is not just for the productivity-über-alles types who try polyphasic sleep and whatnot. I mean, it can definitely accommodate that, if that’s what you’re into. Stress can be valuable, we get it. But what if you already have too much stress? Should you avoid Beeminder? We are very biased but sure don’t think so! On the contrary, we think Beeminder is a powerful stress-reduction tool.

For example, getting yourself to spread your studying out over a semester. That’s way less stressful than cramming for exams! Or if Beeminder makes you pay attention to your Fitbit just enough to actually get in 10k steps a day. Exercise is stress-reducing! Or getting yourself to bed on time instead of repeatedly getting in one more reply in a comment thread until you notice it’s 2am.

Some years ago [1] I polled the weekly beemail subscribers: Does Beeminder add stress to your life and do you view that as positive or negative? The most common reaction was that it increases short-term stress but decreases long-term stress, for a net stress reduction. Some people thought it does increase stress but it’s worth it, and others said it straight up reduces stress. I think all of these are right and it really depends how you use Beeminder. (And of course some people really shouldn’t use Beeminder. We’ve talked before about which people should.)

Here are my top ten favorite replies from Users Like You:

  1. “It reduces bad stress in the form of feeling overwhelmed and not feeling on top of things.”
  2. “It adds micro-stresses but removes much of the mega-stress. It’s the difference between ‘Ahh!! I have to get this little thing done by 5!!!’ and ‘Ahhhhhhhh!!! I have to tell everyone I won’t be done with this project in time after all and hope they understand and that my life won’t be ruined for ever and ever!!!!’”
  3. “Way less stress than before, because I have solid evidence that I’m actually getting stuff done.”
  4. “Beeminder reduces stress in my life because it gets things out of my head. I don’t have to worry about how much or how little I’m doing something because I know Beeminder is keeping track. This is a very good thing.”
  5. “It causes stress but I also have a Beeminder goal where I track my stress level to make sure that it doesn’t get so high that I am being unproductively stressful.”
  6. “Setting smart and SMART goals, with realistic rates and learning to let goals go that I’m not passionate about has helped significantly. I still spend a lot of time, but it’s enjoyable, realistically attainable, and immensely satisfying when I finish for the day and have time to spare.”
  7. “Without Beeminder I would probably feel all the time that I’m not working enough. I would always be thinking ‘Hey! Shouldn’t you be doing something productive?!’ With Beeminder I can clearly answer ‘No. My goals are in the green. I’ve done enough. I can relax now.’”
  8. “Definitely reduces my stress by keeping me on target for a variety of goals I know are good for me but in the past I would put off. It’s been a revelation since I’ve decided to use it (I won’t lie, I knew about it long before I had the guts to actually commit).”
  9. “Beeminder spreads stress over time. This sometimes makes me feel like I experience more stress because I think about it more often, but in reality it is just an effect of the stress being evenly distributed. If it wasn’t I would experience a lot of (negative) stress close to the deadline instead.”
  10. “In some ways Beeminder does add some stress to my life, but it is positive. For activities I enjoy though, Beeminder just reduces stress. I enjoy playing music and having a beemergency day is a great reason to stop whatever I’m doing and go practice, an activity which by itself reduces stress for me.”

My own approach as a Beeminder user is that I wake up every day and work my way down my Beeminder dashboard. I see how it seems like it’d be stressful, waking up to a dozen or more goals in the red. But a lot of those beemergencies are just-keep-swimming things. Like read two more pages of a certain book or write one more sentence of a blog post. Overall I’d say I’m trying to replicate the amount of stress I might have at a day job.


 

Footnotes

[1] I’m embarrassed to admit it was 2016. I’m beeminding my way through a monumental backlog of blog post drafts, ok?


 

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