Previously described Rescuetime is doing almost a perfect job. You can track Your daily productivity and weekly goals (remember how You can create ‘Software Development’ objective?). But what if You fail to achieve Your personal vow, to work on a software project X hours a week? Ha! Nothing! Maybe You feel a little bad, that’s all.

I’ve heard that in one office, when someone had sworn, he had to put some cash in a jar. It’s the same like saying to someone ‘punch me, if I ever do X again’. Or when You make an agreement with someone, to not to come back to a bad habit (smoking maybe?) as long as he/she does something similar, which is important to You, in return. A public agreement… someone is watching You, so it’s harder to break the rules!

How about something guarding our goal to spend X hours a week on a software development? Let me introduce You to …

… “A kick in the pants!”

Beeminder is a service allowing to create weekly goals on doing anything quantifiable. Users have to report their progress on a website or with a dedicated mobile application. Current status can be tracked, by reading how much we have to do, to make our objectives valid. If we are approaching the deadline, Beeminder starts to go crazy and reminds us to get to work by sending emails and by displaying regular popups on a mobile (e.g 12h left for Goal X). This is how the goals summary look like on a mobile:

It’s crystal clear what the status is. Some data has to be reported manually (like how much we’ve read today) and some is gathered by Beeminder automatically, when we are using supported external service.

“Follow through or pay the price.”

Now this is a part, which may seem controversial, or rather ‘stupid’, as say most of the people for whom I’ve told about Beeminder. How user is punished for not reporting data on time? By money taken away from the credit card. We are setting how much will be lost, and these are small, but yet motivating amounts (like 5$, 10$). There has to be that little noticeable punishment.

Personally I’m not so motivated by the money loss (but to be honest, it’s taking some part in a Beeminder challenge too). Rather by the failure, which is felt, when application is showing skull and crossbones on a goal entry icon. Then an extra week is added to the deadline, so the user has a bigger chance to stay on a goal track. And it feels bad, because the wonderful rhythm of a regular work is lost.

“Light a fire under your own butt…”

When it’s about goals, which cannot be verified by a Beeminder, users can be tempted to log a false data. But then: what’s the point of using this service anyway?

As mentioned, there are also services, which will report data automatically and one of them is the previously introduced Rescuetime. Software Development goal can be connected with Beeminder and voilà! There is no escape now from not spending a set time with our project.

I’ve had a couple of situations, when I had to rush back home, to work a required amount of time with Run Pigs Run. I’m sure that many times I would give up. Definitely my progress would be less effective.

And still: I’ve set not so challenging amount of daily time: only 1.5 hours! Of course i can work e.g 4.5 hours on Sunday and have more flexible week. It has to be mentioned, that Rescuetime is quite accurate… probably very accurate. It’s not enough to be focused on a specific program. Client checks if You’re typing something or moving mouse. Sometimes a 5 minute break is taken, sometimes we have to stop and think… Both services know no mercy! Only active time is recorded, so sometimes extra 20-30% time with writing is needed to meet goal’s requirements.

“BEEhave yourself!”

If it’s about contest, I’m also using Beeminder to track how many posts I’ve written. Goal: two posts a week. It’s a good way to be sure, that at least this amount is released.

In bee end…

I realize that the part with money loss could be the only part which makes You to not even take Beeminder into consideration. And it’s understandable. The thing which service’s authors are describing as ‘interesting’ (watch the Nice Lady’s introduction video on a website) is probably the thing which could scare the most. As I’ve mentioned: it’s working for me, I’m always pledging the lowest 5$, but it’s not the main reason, why I’m using this service. It’s just a good piece of software with a handy reminder and accurate measurement tool which can be integrated with other services.