How do you remind yourself to do something?

As I sat down to write this week’s Unclutterer articles, my smartphone beeped a reminder, “Grace ballet at 12:00.” I was glad to receive the prompt and reflected on how crucial my smartphone has become when it comes to reminding me of what I need to do and where I need to be.

Smartphones didn’t become commonplace until about ten years ago. However, I existed back then and I can’t recall the reminder system I used in the “dark days” before pocket-sized computers.

I realize that not everyone favors electronic reminders that vibrate, beep and flash and that got me wondering. How do you remind yourself of what needs to be done?

We’ve discussed many reminder systems over the last ten years . In 2010 we described a system that uses Google Calendar to prompt future action, and two years ago we pointed out a few ways to get things done while avoiding lists and reminders entirely. There are fantastic apps out there, too, like Due.

I’d be lost without my smartphone when it comes to reminders. I’m curious, what is your chosen reminders system? Sound off!

15 Comments for “How do you remind yourself to do something?”

  1. posted by Jacki Hollywood Brown on

    I use Apple’s Reminder app synced through iCloud. I have repeating reminders for weekly, monthly & annual things like “download credit card statement” and “renew domain names.” I also have non-repeating events like, “call to make haircut appointment.”

    I often set up alerts on my (Apple) calendar events to remind me that I have to leave for an appointment, as you described in your post above.

    My daily to-do list is written on a notepad at my desk and includes things like, “edit blog post” and “clean out fridge.” Eventually it all gets done.

  2. posted by uwe on

    besides the calendar I use the Android App Llama a lot for reminders. you can add location based reminders without having to turn on the GPS and waste battery. it just uses cell tower IDs. example: I open the last pack of chewing gum from my desk at work. the first thing I do is adding a quick reminder for the location “home”: pack gum for work. now I’m getting a pop up notification as soon as I’m coming home

  3. posted by laura ann on

    A hanging calendar that I lay flat on my desk with large enough spaces to write in reminders.

  4. posted by zilla on

    A Brownline weekly agenda that lies open on my desk next to my phone (a (gasp) landline) and my computer. Without your smartphone, you would not be “lost”, you would go back to simple measures to keep track of things, like pen and paper.

  5. posted by Kaye on

    I have several non-electronic hacks, depending on when/where it is.

    If i’m at work and remember an errand I need to run on the way home, I put a rubber band around my wrist.

    If I’m in a meeting and can’t make a note, I switch my watch to the other wrist.

    If I’m just dropping off to sleep and don’t want to wake myself up by turning on the light to write a note, I put my glasses in front of my alarm clock instead of behind it.

    If I need to take a small item to work with me, I put it in the basket with my keys. Larger items go on the floor in front of the back door.

  6. posted by srah on

    I use the Todoist app, which will remind me either at a given time or upon arriving/leaving a specific place.

  7. posted by JoAnn on

    I use my Apple calendar with alerts for appointments, Apple reminders for those “nudges” during the day, and Wunderlist for to do lists, grocery lists (shared with hubby), and any other to do list I have going.

  8. posted by Christy King on

    I use my smartphone – Google calendar for most things and SpenDO (simple to-do app) for things that can be done at any time. Also, the old-fashioned post-it note stuck to the fridge door or computer screen.

  9. posted by Jackie Pettus on

    I use Apple Calendar and Reminder apps connected to my phone via iCloud. I also have an “IN/OUT” box on my desk. On the top shelf are papers, etc., needed for things to do today. Projects that can wait go on the bottom shelf. I check the box every morning and move the projects back and forth as needed.

  10. posted by Gail Burlakoff on

    I use something called “my memory” and back it up with handwritten notes in my 2-year planner (pocket size) which lives in my purse. Anything (like library books) that might need to go out with me sits in a bag next to my purse. So far, so good–and I’m 80 years old. I really do not want to rely on outside “gimmicks”–prefer keeping my mind nimble 🙂

  11. posted by Dianne Long on

    Smart phone gt lost. They also get dropped and broken. Even computers can fail.

    My first step is to enter things in my paper-based planner; then to the laptop; and, then to the phone.

    Writing things down helps with remembering to do them. That also gives me a chance to figure out what else will be needed to make the deadline.

    I use all the nifty gadgets, but I don’t trust the tech stuff like I trust my planner. The cost of my planner supplies is under $50 per year. That cannot be said of the smart phone and the data that would be charged for in a year. Tech stuff is “handy” and quick. It is not the end-all/be-all of systems when it has a record of obsolescence in less than five years.

  12. posted by Aliza E Burton on

    I use post it notes – a lot. I also keep a running list of things I need to do weekly on the back of an old envelope. I also have this handy thing i made for my dashboard that has a picture of mail (post office), books (library) and milk (food store). I turn it around to whichever pictured thing I have to do – sometimes I have a couple of those things to do and I put the one I have to do first in front, then flip it to the next thing after I’ve done it.

  13. posted by Sher on

    still love the sticky notes for reminders
    I leave them on the bathroom mirror to remind my hubby how much I love him! 🙂
    I leave them on the garage door if I need to remember to bring something to work.
    I have one stuck on my computer monitor to remind me of upcoming dates to remember.

  14. posted by Andie on

    I have an android phone and use gmail and google calendar, so the google gods just know where I should be when. But i am diligent about putting all things in my calendar with email reminders.
    Before the Smartphone, I used Yahoo Calendars and had email reminders then too. It wasn’t as ‘up-to-the-minute’, but i’d get reminders a day or week in advance, or whatever made sense.

  15. posted by Sarah on

    Sticky notes on the bathroom mirror, or (overnight) a sticky note placed right in the middle of my computer monitor (so I can’t fail to see it as soon as I start working).

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