What is Beeminder?

It's reminders with a sting! Or, goal-tracking with teeth. Mind anything you can graph — weight, pushups, to-do tasks completed — by replying with data when Beeminder prompts you. Or connect with a service (like Fitbit or RescueTime) to report automatically. We plot your progress on a Yellow Brick Road to your goal. Keep all your datapoints on the road and Beeminder will always be free. Go off the road and you (literally) pay the price.

How is Beeminder different?

Beeminder is Quantified Self plus Commitment contracts. If you just want self-tracking you have a lot of choices and if you just want commitment devices you have more and more options as well (StickK being the most well-known). Beeminder combines self-tracking and commitment contracts: keep all your datapoints on a Yellow Brick Road to your goal or we take your money. The combination is powerful. We call it flexible self-control.

Who is Beeminder for?

Here's the way to find out if Beeminder could be useful for you: Is there anything you know you should do, you really do want to do, you know for certain you can do, yet that historically you don't do? (Also, are you a nerdy, lifehacking data freak?) If yes, you should try it!

How Beeminder Works

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Set a (graphable) goal.
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Your contract commits you to pay if you go off track (but the first time is free).
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Answer with your number when Beeminder asks — or connect a device that reports to us automatically.
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Stay on your Yellow Brick Road and all is well. If you veer off your road you commit to pay $5 next time you derail.

Goals That People Have Been Beeminding

Being able to do 50 pushups by September 22
Biking 50 miles per week leading up to the NYC Century
Doing 45 minutes of biking resistance training per week
Biking 10 miles in 24 minutes
Biking 1956 miles in 2011 (until odometer hits 5000)
Quit smoking by June.
Decrease money spent on alcohol and bars by $100 each month.
Lower cholesterol by 50 points by next month.
Floss 3 times per week.
Lose 10 pounds over the next 5 weeks.
Reduce time spent on Facebook to 30 minutes per day.
Increase Pivotal Tracker velocity to 15 over the next 3 months
Cross 3 things off my to-do list every day before lunch.
Write for 30 minutes every night before bed.
Increase number of pomodoros by one each week for four weeks.
Save $5,000 for a vacation to Laos.
Decrease money spent on alcohol and bars by $100 each month.
Save $10,000 for a trip to Europe.
Decrease money spent on Starbucks to $10/week.
Reduce ATM withdrawals to $200/month.
Learn to cook one new meal every month in 2012.
Learn French by spending 2 hours per week studying podcasts.
Read two articles from the Economist every week.
Ask an expert to answer a question every day.
Learn a new programming language for 30 minutes each day.

Beeminding your Weight

The most popular Beeminder goal is weight loss. We're proud of how well it works and have put a lot of thought into the data smoothing and the mechanics of the yellow brick road. The problem with beeminding something that has random fluctuation is that it's discouraging and/or nerve-racking to see the numbers bounce around day-to-day, which is why weight-loss programs typically only ask for weekly weigh-ins. But if you have a random up day on a weekly weigh-in day, that's really discouraging. Better to get more data and let Beeminder show you the true trend. And you get daily instead of weekly feedback. That's key. And that's where the different parts of the graph come in, such as the turquoise swath which you can think of as a very thick line charting your progress or an aura around your actual data. It gives you a sense of your true trend.

This person's graph illustrates this nicely:

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They bounce around a lot but it's clear that their true trend is twice as steep as their road.

Yellow Brick Road

The most important feature of a Beeminder graph is the yellow brick road. It shows you where you're going. Keep your dots on the road and Beeminder will remain free. The true ideal road is actually the dotted orange centerline but the road is calculated to be wide enough so that as long as your dots are on the road then your deviation from the ideal centerline is probably random. It's quite generous about this so being off the road means you're definitely in arrears.

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