It’s the Little Things…Keeping Track of Life (or, Using Reminders and Repeating Tasks to Make Sure Stuff Gets Done)

Life comes with a lot of responsibilities and it can be hard to keep track of everything, like remembering to change the air filters in your house. No, you don’t have to water your plants or change out your air filters on a rigid schedule, but the plants might not live very long and the air you breathe won’t be as nice. I happen to love plants and clean air (especially with a very hairy, shedding dog, living on a gravel road, and a tendency to burn things), so I value keeping up with tasks like this. Tasks like this though, don’t quite fit on a daily to-do list very easily because they don’t happen every day and, sometimes, don’t happen for months. Yet, we still want/need to remember them. I don’t know about you all, but my brain forgets stuff I need to do, even if it’s every single week or every other week. So, to make life a little bit easier on myself, I automate as much as I can. My repeating calendar reminders are such a little thing, but they have such a big difference in my life.

My Reminders

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my iPhone reminders

I have several standing reminders on my phone and my online calendar:

  • Watering our baby trees every week
  • Watering the houseplants every 2 weeks
  • Giving Way Pup his heartworm and flea/tick medicine every month
  • Changing out our air filters and water filter every 3 months
  • Refilling medicine every 3 months
  • Getting the carpet cleaned every 18 months

 

Sure, I may seem like less of a grown-up because I can’t remember to do simple tasks like water the plants every 2 weeks. But you know what? I don’t care. I acknowledge that I will forget about those plants otherwise and have a repeating reminder. Sure, I could try to remember that Way Pup gets his medicine every month on the 8th, but I’d probably forget and two months would go by without him getting his medicine (which is not acceptable, particularly given that we live out in the country a little bit). So, there’s a calendar reminder every. single. month.

my Google calendar reminder

 

To keep my list from getting too cluttered, I only create reminders for things that are:

  1. No more frequently than once a week, and/or
  2. Hard for me to remember (the item is usually out of sight, like air filters)

This means that there aren’t specific reminders for laundry, cleaning the house, feeding the dog, collecting chicken eggs, or watering my outdoor plants because those things happen either when they’re needed (e.g., laundry) or every single day (e.g., taking care of the animals and watering my outdoor plants during the summer).

Possible Reminders

Here’s a short list of things you might want help remembering, whether it’s once a week or once a year:

  • Go to the grocery
  • Do housework
  • Water plants
  • Buy more pet food
  • Refill medicine (a reminder to call the pharmacy)
  • Set up doctor’s appointments
  • Prepare end-of-month invoices at work
  • Draft blog posts
  • Order Christmas cards
  • Change the car oil
  • Switch fan directions for summer and winter
  • Review your goals/New Year’s Resolutions

Creating Your Own Reminders

Thankfully, it’s incredibly easy to create reminders, either on your phone with an iPhone or on a calendar.

To set up reminders on your iPhone, check out this website. It walks you through the various steps (which are really easy!) to set up your reminders. Quick summary though: use the Reminders app or tell Siri (“Siri, remind me to change the air filters every 3 months”).

To set up reminders on a calendar, create it like you would any new appointment, add a notification, and make it repeat:

setting up a Google calendar reminder

That’s it! That is ALL you have to do to set up reminders and now you look like a responsible adult because the dog gets his medicine and your air filters are changed on time!

Most Importantly…

A few last things. Please don’t worry about setting up all your reminders at once. And don’t worry about getting them all. As you think of something, take 2 minutes to set up the reminder and move on with your life. These repeating reminders are meant to make your life easier and more stress-free, not harder and more stressful! So what if you haven’t changed your air filters in the past 6 months? It’s really not that big a deal. Get the dimensions from your existing air filters, add it to your shopping list, pick up some new ones the next time you’re at the store, and replace them when you get home. Once you’ve replaced them, create a reminder and – pay attention because this is important – forget about it until your phone or calendar pings you that it’s time to change them.

If there’s something else you know you should or need to do, take 2 minutes to create a reminder for it and then move on with your life. This should be easy, not hard. These reminders help free up energy and brain space to focus on more important things, like quality time with family and friends instead of worrying about whether or not you forgot to do something.

If you try them out and don’t like it, then don’t do it! This is clearly not the way for you to remember these things. Like I’ve said before, don’t give up! If you try out repeating reminders and they work, then awesome! Either way, you got this!

Do you already use repeating reminders to help you remember tasks? If not, are you going to start? What kinds of tasks do you want or need help remembering?

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