I am starting fresh with Remember The Milk, a great site/app that serves as an external brain for me when it comes to reminders. I had been using it with great success and fell out of the habit when i wasn’t paying attention (meaning i got lazy). Here’s some examples of how i use it.
Help Building Routines: My morning routine is split into 4 tasks (physical care, swish & swipe, sun breaths & cat care), all tagged with “morning”, set to repeat after 1 day, with a reminder at 6AM on my phone. This means i see them when i first wake up, and it’s fresh in my mind to go through the tasks. The steps to the evening routine I am building (make tomorrow’s breakfast/lunch, lay out tomorrow’s clothes) are similarly set with an 8PM reminder. The ‘trigger’ reminding me to do the various tasks helps me stay consistent.
Shopping List: “Gee, i have absinthe, but no sugar cubes, i should get some!” Pull up RTM, and add #Buy sugarcubes @Stop & Shop =2min. If i need something for a particular event (or just dinner that night) I can also add a due date. When i go to Stop & Shop, i search for “tag:buy and location:”Stop & Shop””, and get a full list of what i needed to buy at that store. If i’m at a bigger store, like Target, I might just search for “tag:buy”, and view the list of all the things i needed to buy. I can assess what is available or cheaper elsewhere as i go, and cross things off my list as i shop. RTM has a feature for reminders when you are within a certain distance of your location, however, since many of my errands are within close proximity of my daily commute (and each other) I don’t use it.
Chore Schedule: One of my personal challenges is doing chores on a regular basis. My life is busy and rarely adheres to a set schedule, but i want a clean house! I also sometimes don’t know what chores need doing. Again, enter RTM! I know some tasks like ‘Take trashcan to curb’ need to happen on a particular day, so i can enter it with ^Tuesday 6PM @Home #Evening #Chores *Weekly =5 min (the symbols are part of a quick enter code, there are also field for the same information). I build my chore list as i do things, and set the repeat date to occur after X days, so it’s not dependent upon day of the week. For example, i might take an afternoon to do a deep clean of a room, and then add the various tasks into RTM with appropriate repeat periods. If i have some spare time, i can pull up a search of “tag:chores and location:”home”” and see what is due in the near future.
Time Management: I try to make it a rule to enter an approximate time for each task, even if it’s very short. This way i can judge how much time i need to devote to my daily to-do’s, or a given project. I can compare tomorrow’s to-do list with my schedule and see if it’s realistic. It also lets me see how i can be productive in a given time period. For example, if i have 15 minutes before i need to leave, but i’m ready to go, i can check my list and get something simple done.
Project Management: Because RTM has a great tagging system, i can tag project components, and make them all appear at once. It’s great for brainstorming project components, and also for things like packing lists. For example, if I was going to throw a party, as i thought about various elements – decor, food, invitations, entertainment, i could add them to my list. Since it’s part of my overall system, i can add ideas as they come, rather than one or two brainstorm sessions. Again, with the ability to add due dates, time estimates and locations, i easily integrate the project into my life.
Conversation Starter: I’m at the store and see a new gluten free product my sister might like. I know she’s busy at the moment, or maybe it’s just not immediately important. I add it to my list, tagged with her name. The next time we’re talking, i pull up items with her tag and ta-da! All those “there was something i wanted to ask you about, but can’t remember…” moments are solved!
Emotional Check In: I often suffer from a habit of not addressing important emotional issues, trying to write them off as short term reactions, when there may actually be something deeper to consider. I am trying to enter check-ins for myself when these situations arise a few days after i become aware of them. For example, i was experiencing an intense wave of jealousy for a few days. I allowed myself to acknowledge the emotion, and set a note a few days later to check in and see if i still felt jealous. If i had been, i could of decided to address the issue with my partners then, without feeling as reactive.
Help with Purchases and Registrations: Books I want to read, movies I want to see, events i want to attend – i can remind myself to further investigate when i have more time. I even set up reminders for Kickstarter projects I’m interested in backing, but need to research further. I set a reminder for a date that is more relevant, and will see it come through my daily list. It’s also great for events with early bird price increases or sales on products. Since i have a version set up on my GMail webpage, i can immediately enter information from newsletters into my system, without clogging my inbox.
Random: Long term goals or someday/maybe list items are also in there, so i can review them once in a while and see if they are still relevant. Gift ideas, projects for ‘sometime in the future’, and follow-ups for email or phone conversations all can easily be entered and become part of the system. I hope as i return to some of the Getting Things Done routines, such as weekly reviews, the ability to automatically generate the appropriate lists will assist me.
Overall, i really love using this system. It’s flexible, powerful, easy to access, and fast. The design is clean and intuitive (i have trained myself to use the ‘code’ but it’s not at all required). The more i use it, the more i want to continue using it, and find myself feeling confident and secure that the important things are getting done!