That is easier said than done.
There are many ways to work on memory. Famously, there are the memory championships. Where people compete to how quickly they can memorize the order of a deck of 50 cards and other such very specific exercises.
I don’t care much about that sort of memory.
I’m much more interested in the day to do “Did I remember to buy milk? sort of memory.
There are ways to build this over time through meditation and other practices.
But, there is also a specific way to build habits so that you don’t have to rely on memory.
Its the obvious: Set reminders.
However, reminders are more complicated than you’d think. Where should you put the reminder? What should it say? How can you keep it from losing its reminding power?
There are all great questions and today I’m only going to address the 1st one: Where should you put reminders?
Over the past few years I’ve become adept at setting reminders and setting them in places that actually work for me.
So, the following list is in order of escalation. If I want to build a habit, I start at the top, and when that doesn’t work, move further down the list.
1. A list of reminders. I have a list of reminders that I look at as part of my daily Personal Evolution. This has drawbacks because you must both make an effort to look at the list and internalize the reminders on it. Which can become especially hard when there are more than a few. But, for the simplest reminders (e.g. do xyx, where xyz will only take 30 seconds) it makes sense. This is also a great place to put reminders if you can’t think of a better place to put them.
2. Time based digital reminders. This could be in iOS reminders, in google calendar or in the app of your choice. The idea is to find an app that will send you a push notification at a specific time.
3. Location based digital reminders. This again can be in the app of your choice. The two that I use are iOS reminders and IFTT to send me a push notification or text message based on location.
4. Text message reminders. I’m putting these in a separate category because, for most people, text messages are more likely to interupt your work flow and force an acknowledgement and response. The best tool I’ve found for this is IFTT, which can link texts to times, locations, or a variety of other triggers.
5. Physical location based reminders. These work well for actions that need to be taken outside of the sphere of your computer. It could be a posit in the bathroom with a reminder to floss or a note in the kitchen with your favorite healthy recipes. Another great example is having a reminder of some sort on the door that you will see on your way out.
6. A note on your computer desktop. These are good for reminders that have no clear trigger that you can attach them to but are not working on your reminders list. Using an app like Stickies for mac you can put a space taking up reminder on your desktop and be more likely to be primed to remember.
7. In your digital workflow. This is by far the best type of digital reminder. The type of reminder that will only show up when you are about to do the thing that you need a reminder about. Unfortunately, this isn’t easy for the lay person to setup in all cases. But, there are a few examples that work well:
7a. Change the name of your morning alarm to remind you of the first thing you need to do that day. It will show up on the screen right as you are waking up and you are guaranteed to see it.
7b. Put reminders or notes about a meeting in the description of the calendar invite. Then put a “(see details)” or other note at the end of the name of the meeting and you are likely to check the notes prior to the meeting when you get a notification.
7c. Create routines in a workout app so that you never forget the type of workout that you want to do when you are at the gym.
8. Add a physical constraint. And this is the best type of physical reminder. Change your environment so that you will physically not be able to do the thing you want to keep from doing. Or, so that you are forced to do what you want to do.
A few examples of this:
8a. If you want to stop biting your nails, wear gloves so that you cannot do it.
8b. If you want to stop drinking soda or eating sweets, don’t buy soda or sweets at the grocery store and throw everything at home away so that you have none in the house.
8c. Create a reminder to empty your coffee cup at 2pm. Once you empty your cup will be less likely to mindlessly keep drinking coffee.
8d. Buy a vessel for water which is the size of how much water you’d like to drink in a day. Fill it in the morning and finish it by night.
What types of reminders do you find effective?
PS. Our habit building software, evolution2.co, can help you identify when and how to use these reminders.
^Day 175/90 926 words