« Beeminder home

Beeminder Blog

A bee with a wrench and a todo list

Nathan Arthur (narthur) has been beeminding for over two years now, brilliantly and prolifically. He’s also no small part of what makes the Beeminder forum the wonderful place that it is. And now he’s built an app of his own that complements Beeminder beautifully, which he’s about to tell you about (and which is our latest Beeminder integration!). Old-timers may recall that we once built something similar called GTBee but we shouldn’t have so we were thrilled when Nathan asked for our blessing to run in a new direction with the idea.

Procrastination and the Eisenhower Matrix

So many tasks, so little time. Some demand our attention right this minute, while others seem safe to postpone. Completing some will push us toward our goals, while others won’t matter in the long run.

We can visualize these two spectra in what’s often called an Eisenhower Matrix:

Eisenhower Matrix

Rorybowman, public domain, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:MerrillCoveyMatrix.png
  1. Quadrant One: Important and Urgent. These are emergencies. Handle them now or else.
  2. Quadrant Two: Important but Not Urgent. This includes important tasks that don’t have clear deadlines.
  3. Quadrant Three: Not Important but Urgent. These are often other people’s priorities encroaching on our lives. Like phone calls and other interruptions.
  4. Quadrant Four: Not Important and Not Urgent. These tasks are fun to complete and may make us feel productive. But leaving them undone doesn’t have any negative consequences.

“I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower

Most of us want to spend more time in quadrant two. We want to spend our time planning for the future and making real progress toward our goals.

But quadrant two also happens to be the quadrant where it’s easiest to procrastinate. Tasks that create real progress are often unstructured and intimidating. There’s no clear consequence to putting them off, so we neglect them in favor of more rewarding tasks.

Deadlines with Consequences

There’s an easy fix: Deadlines.

Most of us have procrastinated on school assignments due at the end of the semester. Such assignments are quadrant two tasks — important but lacking urgency — so we put them off as long as we can.

As the deadline approaches, the urgency to complete the assignment increases. Finally, we can’t put it off any longer without our grade suffering, so we complete the assignment.

But we shouldn’t have to rely on someone else threatening us with a deadline. Why not create our own deadlines?

There’s nothing stopping us from adding our own deadlines to our tasks, and many of us do. But they often don’t work as well. External deadlines usually carry consequences — a damaged grade, a boss’s displeasure, a fine. Self-imposed deadlines rarely have such consequences.

Beeminder’s Sting

Beeminder solves the problem of missing consequences. By using Beeminder, you allow Beeminder to take your money if you don’t meet your commitments.

Beeminder takes your quantifiable goal and creates an enforceable plan for reaching it. If you don’t stay on track, you lose money. Beeminder turns quadrant two goals into a series of quadrant one tasks.

This works great for losing weight, training for a marathon, and writing every day. If you can make the goal quantifiable and it’ll take at least a month to finish, it will be a great fit for Beeminder.

The One-off Task

But not everything that falls in quadrant two meets these criteria.

  • Calling your tax preparer.
  • Cleaning out a closet.
  • Submitting your application to university.
  • Doing 3 pomodoros today.
  • Studying for your final exam tomorrow.

While there may be ways to beemind such one-off tasks, it won’t be natural. Beeminder isn’t built to track your todo list.


TaskRatchet is like Beeminder, but for your todo list. Every TaskRatchet task has a deadline and an amount of money you pledge on its completion. Fail to finish the task in time, and TaskRatchet takes that money.

It’s still early days for TaskRatchet. It needs polishing. It’s missing features. It’s not very pretty.

But people are already using TaskRatchet to complete their own quadrant two tasks. The list of one-off tasks above are real tasks that TaskRatchet users have completed.

TaskRatchet Screenshot

Beeminder Integration

“Beeminder turns quadrant two goals into a series of quadrant one tasks”

But one type of procrastination remains. TaskRatchet can’t prevent you from procrastinating on adding tasks to TaskRatchet.

So we’ve added a new TaskRatchet-to-Beeminder integration. The integration will allow you to post a datapoint to Beeminder every time you create a new task. You can enable the integration by following the instructions in your TaskRatchet account settings.

Let’s Build This Together

With TaskRatchet’s help, you can beat procrastination. And the feedback we get from our early users will have an outsized impact on the future direction of the tool. So join today, and let’s build this together!

Join Now!


Image credit: Faire Soule-Reeves