The Examined Life

I’ve never done new years’ resolutions, but for a little more than a month I’ve been using a tool that would be great for that.

Beeminder is a service to track and enforce cumulative goals for oneself. It’s utterly geeky and overthought, much like me. It works across platforms (including an Android app), again like me.

One thing I’ve been using it for it to track piano practicing; here is the graph it has made:

Piano practice beeminder graph

I get to enter the data points, set the slope of the yellow goal line (minutes practice per week), and so on.

The interesting thing about Beeminder is the mindset and business model – whether or not you are looking for such a tool, I highly recommend reading why it is designed the way it does. It works in tandem with their unique business model – pay nothing for the app, but pledge money you pay only if you fail your goals. I put up $5 for practicing piano, and have not failed.

This morning I installed TagTime on my phone, a very-beta companion app which does stochastic sampling of what you are doing throughout the day in order to quantify how you are spending time in an unbiased way – in essence, doing what a profiler does for computer performance analysis. I don’t have an opinion on how useful it is in practise yet, but I’m thrilled it exists; because I was eventually going to have to build it for myself. That it integrates with beeminder is a bonus. In theory, instead of manually tracking minutes practicing piano, I can let the random sampling track it – together with time walking the dog, eating, and everything else.

Happy New Year, folks!

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