About Goal-Fish

Why did you make Goal-Fish?

I wanted a smarter todo list. Here's what I need from a todo list:

  1. Is quick and easy to use.
  2. Doesn't overwhelm me with a huge list of things to do at once.
  3. Doesn't bug me about vacumming after the neighbours in the apartment below me have gone to sleep.
  4. Takes items off the list when I'm done, and puts them back on the list after sufficient time has passed, for example waiting a week or so before bugging me again about changing the sheets.
  5. Takes into account how I'm feeling and doesn't give me physical tasks involving bending and lifting when I'm in a lot of pain, instead reminding me that I can clear off my desk even if I can't pick things up off the floor.
  6. Doesn't tell me to start a large project when I only have a little bit of time.
  7. Only gives me overwhelming tasks when I'm up for it.

I couldn't find anything like this anywhere, so I wrote my own. Since you can hide the constraints that don't apply to you, I'm confident it will be useable in almost any situation where there are tasks to choose from. You could make a category for Games, add your game collection to it, and use it to remind you which board games have 3 players and are playable in a half hour. You could make a category for Meals, add your favourites in, and use it to decide what can be cooked reasonably cheaply in a half hour for four people. Back to the top

But why is it called Goal-Fish?

I got to thinking that my todo list is kind of like one of those digital pets where you have to order it to do things, feed it, water it, and take care of it, except in reverse. I'm the digital pet, and the computer is the person telling me to clean my room. Some digital pets are goldfish, so I thought I might call it Goal-Fish. If you think that's funny, you can think of it that way too, but if you don't, then I don't mean any offense, and do you like the cute fish logo I drew on my computer? It's a goldfish with a broom! If it weren't called Goal-Fish, I wouldn't have drawn such a cute fish. Back to the top

Do I have to register?

Not if you don't want to! I made some generic housekeeping tasks and some fun tasks as well that you can access even while logged out. There are 32 tasks you can do without an account. But if you want to make your own tasks, add more categories, hide tasks for a while after completion, hide constraints that don't apply to your situation, and automatically track your pain levels (opt in) if you're in chronic pain, then, yeah, you need an account. They're free! Back to the top

Okay, I've made an account. Now what?

Now you should see a link to the Manage page up top. You can't break anything, so try all the options and see what they do. You can undo anything you do, except for deleting your account, so don't be afraid to play around. Maybe start with Edit Preferences. Back to the top

It says I can't add any more new tasks/categories

Users are allowed to add 6 categories and 20 tasks, in addition to being able to access the 2 default categories with 32 tasks. This site is a free site, but I do accept donations to help cover the costs of web hosting. If you donate, I will give you an extra 6 categories and 20 tasks per donation. This site has no advertisements on it, because this is a distraction free zone and advertisements aren't relevant to the tasks you're trying to do. Hence, all my money comes from your donations. Back to the top

One big way you can help is by donating with PayPal. Any amount is welcome, in any currency. Be sure to enter your username so that I know who to thank. Each time you donate, I will give you an extra 6 categories and 20 tasks.

You can also help out by spreading the word on social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or LiveJournal. You can talk about how Goal-Fish helps you or you can explain what it is. It's okay to copy any of the text I wrote on this site in your explanation if you're struggling to put it into your own words. Be sure to include a link to either https://www.goal-fish.org or this help page: https://www.goal-fish.org/help.php.

Another way to help out is to talk to me. Let me know about your ideas for the site, what would make the site better for you, or tell me if something's not working right and I'll try to fix it. You can also ask me questions about how to do something on Goal-Fish.

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Will you make an app?

Short answer: Maybe I will make an app someday. For now, bookmark the site in your phone's web browser.

Before people started asking this, I had no idea about all the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes into making one. It turns out that most devices (iphones, blackberries, ipads, ipods, android phones, kindles, windows phones, windows computers, apple computers, linux computers) speak different computer languages, and I have to write a different app, one in each computer language, for each one. I already speak several computer languages, but I would have to learn some new ones in order to make apps for all the different types of devices there are.

I have an android phone already, so if I learned the language I need to make an android app, I could do that fairly cheaply. It would still take a lot time, but I could probably do it. I could open the app on my phone and test everything to make sure it's behaving and doing what I want.

So far, only a few people who come to my site are using android phones. More people seem to be using iphones. Unfortunately, where I live, iphones cost more than I spend in an entire month on food, rent, and utilities combined. I would need to buy one so that I could test my app and make sure it worked okay, after I spent all that time learning the computer language that iphones speak. And then I'd want to get listed in itunes so that people could find my app, but that costs about six weeks worth of food money!

I'm not saying no, because I do hope to be able to make an app someday. Donations will help make someday arrive sooner. In the meantime, you can access Goal-Fish from your mobile phone just like you would any other website. The pages on Goal-Fish are all very small, so it should load quickly.

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Will you draw fish pictures for the custom tasks I added to my account?

Sure, that sounds like fun! Send me an e-mail and let me know how much you're willing to donate per picture, the names of the tasks you want drawn, and any ideas you have about what you want included. I can draw a fish playing your favourite computer games, balancing its checkbook, brushing its teeth, or whatever else strikes your fancy!

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I can add tasks and categories. Why can't I add my own constraints?

Because constraints are harder to add programatically. Some constraints can be expressed with a simple checkbox: this task can either be done all the time, or it can only be done during the daytime. Some constraints are a number. Some are a set or four or five words.

You can rename the "pain" constraint to a few other options, such as "spoons" or "stamina", if those words are more applicable to you.

I've tried to add enough different constraints to make the site useable for a wide variety of tasks. If there's something you're missing, let me know, and I'll see what I can do. I'm more likely to add constraints that can apply to a broad range of categories, and less likely to add constraints that are very specific and only apply to a category only two people are using, if that makes sense. But send me an e-mail, I might say yes.

Alternatively, if you aren't using one of the constraints, or that constraint does not apply to this category of tasks, for example "Overloading?" and you want to add a yes/no constraint like "Contains meat?" you could pretend that "Overloading" means "Contains meat" and "Are you overloaded?" means "Are you in the mood for veggies?" when adding/editing tasks. Back to the top

What accessibility features does this site have? Can you add another one for me?

Blind, low vision users, and colour blind users

There is a skip navigation link at the top of the page, which is hidden with CSS. Whenever you submit a form, the title of the page will be updated with either "Success" or "Error" so that you can find the results out right away. Additional information about the success or error is provided directly after the top navigation menu, before the usual instructions for filling out the form. If there was an error, the explanatory message will also contain a link to jump directly to the problem form field. Alternatively, if you are using a modern browser which supports HTML5 and try to submit a form without filling in a required field, it will prompt you to fill it in before it lets you submit the form.

The Do Tasks page also updates the title of the page with the name of the task chosen for you. Refreshing that page will generate a new task based on the last constraints you set on the Constraints page. Hopefully, this will speed things up for you. There are a lot of forms on the site, but I've used the <label> tag so that users can navigate the forms easier, clicking on the label instead of a tiny checkbox. All pages still work at 300% zoom. Larger than that and you may need to side scroll a little.

Colour is used very sparingly, and does not convey any information.

I have not implemented access keys, because I don't know which keyboard shortcuts are already in use by JAWS, Windows Eyes, Orca and other common screenreaders, and I don't want to make an access key that deprives you of a function you need for something else. If you would like me to implement access keys and can give me suggestions for which keys to use, or if there is anything else I can do to make the site easier to use for you, please e-mail me.

Dyslexia, ADHD, autism, intellectual disabilities

I have designed the site to be as simple and clutter free as possible, to make it easier to focus. I have set the spacing of the paragraphs and lines a little farther apart to help keep the letters from flowing together. The default tasks all have pictures associated with them, and you can upload small pictures for the tasks you create. By default, both pictures and text are displayed, but eventually I will make an option to display only one or the other.

Sensory integration, overload, triggers, epilepsy

There is a constraint you can set on tasks that you find overloading or triggering, so that you only have to do those tasks when you have the spoons for it.

This site contains minimal javascript and no flash. There are no blinking or moving images, and there are no noises.

Some JavaScript is used to hide or display the step-by-step instructions for tasks. If you have JavaScript turned off, the only way to hide the step-by-step instructions is to edit the tasks and delete the long instructions.

Chronic pain

There is a constraint you can set on tasks for pain. I suffer from chronic pain myself, and that was one of my primary motivations in making this site: I needed something to keep track of what I can do at various pain levels, because when I'm in a lot of pain, it can be hard to remember the things that I am able to do.

I've also added a pain tracking feature, which will effortlessly keep track of how much pain you're in whenever you submit the form on the Constraints page. You can print this out to take to your doctor, or you can use it to look for patterns in your pain levels. For example, if you have regular menstrual cycles, you can see how your average pain levels change throughout the month. The pain tracking page is private: you can only see it when you are logged in, and no one can see it but you.

Mobile phones, small screens

The website is usable without CSS, and the layout degrades nicely on small screens.


If you need an accessibility feature that I haven't added yet, e-mail me. Tell me what your needs are and I will try to help as much as possible. Accessibility is very important to me. Back to the top

The pain levels for the default tasks don't match my personal pain scale.

Everyone's personal pain scale is different, so I set them up to at least match mine. If you make an account, you can edit the default tasks' requirements to match your own needs. Back to the top

What are spoons? How does the pain/energy/stamina/spoons system work?

The pain/energy/stamina/spoons system (you can choose what you want to call it in your preferences) is a way to sort tasks by how much they take out of you and how much you have to give. You might classify them by difficulty, or by how physically strenuous they are, how emotionally taxing, the amount of thinking the task requires. If you experience chronic pain, you may find that you can't do any bending and lifting if you're at a 5, but you can do seated tasks okay. At an 8, however, you may need to be lying down, so you can only do tasks you can do while lying in bed. The specifics of this will be different for everyone. If you have an account, you can edit the default tasks to suit your situation.

Spoons is a metaphor for how much resources a person with a chronic illness has available to them at any given moment. You can read more about Spoon theory. If you're newly disabled or are experiencing new limits on your abilities that are temporary (pregnancy, a broken leg), you might find spoon theory helpful in adjusting to not being able to do everything all the time, and needing to consider how you are feeling before doing things you used to do without thought. The basic idea is that you have a limited amount of resources and you have to make do. If you spend your spoons on vacuuming, you may not be able to go grocery shopping later in the day, or you may need to lie down more often to regain your strength.

Some tasks take more spoons (use up more resources) than others, leaving you exhausted. You can replenish spoons by making sure you have enough food, are properly hydrated, get enough sleep, and by doing things to reduce the amount of pain you are in: taking medication, meditation, having quiet time. If you tell Goal-Fish that you are extremely low on spoons or in a lot of pain, Goal-Fish will only give you basic self-care tasks. Goal-Fish makes dealing with all this easier, because you don't have to focus on what you can't do: you tell us what your resources are and we give you things that you can do.

If you don't have a chronic illness, stamina might be a better word for a similar concept that is more applicable to your situation: you might be better at certain things at different times of the day. You might need to do harder tasks in the morning when you're fresh; towards the end of the day when you are feeling more sluggish you might want to do easier tasks. Or you might need to do slow, simple stuff in the morning, do difficult things towards the middle of the day, and then wind down with more simple tasks again.

For the purposes of Goal-Fish, being at a 10 on the pain scale is the same as having 0 spoons/stamina/energy reserves, and having 10 spoons/stamina/energy reserves is the same as having 0 pain. The math is done automatically, so you don't need to edit your tasks to change the numbers just because you renamed Pain to Spoons. You only need to pay attention to this when you're adding a new task. Goal-Fish will prompt you, telling you whether to use smaller or larger numbers for harder tasks. (Smaller for pain because it means "I can only do this task if I have 3 or less pain". Larger for spoons because it means "I can only do this task if I have at least 7 spoons.") Back to the top

How secure is this site? Can you see what my password is? Why do you want my e-mail address? What are you going to do with it?

Reasonably secure. Hopefully less secure than your bank's website (that is, I hope your bank has SSL, which Goal-Fish doesn't, and uses all the precautions I have used, and yet more precautions that I haven't heard of, because it's a bank.) But Goal-fish is definitely more secure than your average fun website.

I can't see your password, because it's encrypted with a very secure algorithm before being stored in the database. This does mean that if you forget your password, I can't tell you what your old password was, but I can help you set a new one.

When you join the site, I will send you one e-mail to welcome you, with a link for you to click on so that I know that e-mail address is really yours. If you forget your password, I will send you an e-mail with a link to generate a new one. If you donate money, I will e-mail you to thank you. I will not sell your e-mail address to anyone, share it with anyone, or do anything else with it that I wouldn't want to happen to my own e-mail address. Back to the top

I want to delete my account

Go to the Edit Preferences page, scroll down, click the confirmation checkbox, and press "Delete". This will remove all of the tasks and categories you've added and remove your account completely from our site. I'm sorry to see you go. If you want to e-mail me with feedback on how I could've made the site better for you, you may. Back to the top