What To Mind: Picking a Metric

Saturday, September 13, 2014
By dreeves

A little anthropomorphic ruler

We use the word “goal” a lot but, ironically, we agree with Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) who argues that goals are for losers. [1] He points out that the most amazing people he knows tend not to just have goals that they achieve and then are done with, but systems for constantly improving. This is the biggest difference between Beeminder and StickK. StickK is about reaching a goal and the key question for setting up a goal in StickK is defining the success criteria. With Beeminder the key question for setting up a goal is defining a metric. [2]

If you want to be a writer you could beemind time spent writing, or number of pages, or number of words, or stories finished, or articles published. How do you pick which one to actually beemind?

  1. Prefer things you can automate

    E.g., time spent as measured by RescueTime or words added/deleted on Draft. The Beeminder frontpage lists all our autodata integrations. [3]

  2. Prefer things that make inherently interesting graphs

    We call it the QS First principle, and in fact I view Beeminder as foremost a Quantified Self tool. For example, beeminding miles run is more interesting than beeminding number of runs.

  3. Prefer actions over outcomes

    I.e., things you have direct control over. If you are setting a goal to “get tenure”, beemind the number of papers submitted for review rather than number of papers accepted for publication. We also recommend beeminding calories and workouts over beeminding weight (or at least beemind the latter very conservatively).

P.S. We made these points more concisely on Twitter, thanks to @sushimustwrite.


[1] Scott Adams’s criticism doesn’t really apply to S.M.A.R.T.(E.R.) goals.

[2] In fact, most Beeminder goals don’t have success criteria. They’re things like “work out at least 3 times a week, forever” or “spend an hour a day writing, forever” or “keep my weight below 100 kilograms, forever”.

And you should upvote autodata sources you think we should add next!

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  • nadyadeangelis

    Please please connect Beeminder to something else, not Draft! Maybe it’s convenient for bloggers but definitely not for writers. And as I mentioned before it only counts words written in Latin characters, so I cannot use it at all, because I write in Russian.

  • http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

    Another user had that problem with Hebrew but Draft fixed it recently. Maybe Russian will have a similar fix. Stand by! (And what’s your favorite writing tool?)

  • nadyadeangelis

    They never replied to my email. Besides, it is designed not really for writers – its core features, like publishing to blog, or transcription of a video, or collaboration, are of little help when somebody is writiing a book. As I said, it is probably useful for bloggers, or web writers, or technical writers, but not for book writers.

    My favorite writing tools – Evernote for drafts and materials and Scrivener for everything else.

  • Babak Golshahi

    This was confusing to me initially, but I totally agree now — the focus should be on the process not the result. I am in the middle of a job search at the moment.. and have realized that it’s always about consistency and process over result. What is my approach? How many apps? How many people am I contacting? What a great project to beemind.. stay on the yellow brick road by emphasizing consistency — goals so small they they stay consistent over goals — lifestyle changes over life changing results…. I’m poring over the forums looking for ideal ways and projects to beemind. Cheers.

  • Babak Golshahi

    It would be great to beemind to wordpress or tumblr… but I don’t mind using draft, then copying and pasting from there.. its a little annoying but I agree Evertnote would be great too