By Johan Gunnars, CEO and cofounder of Simpliday
Nowadays, most kids — and maybe some adults — probably don’t recognize the old tradition of tying a string around your finger to remind yourself of something important. That’s because reminders, while still as valuable as ever, have evolved with technology (in most cases, for the better). However, even with all the tech options we have to help us remember things today, it can often still feel like daily life isn’t getting any easier or simpler. So where are we going wrong?
The truth is that creating and using reminders is an art — and doing it well is the key to simplifying and empowering your day. Here are 5 ways to get more out of every reminder you make:
1. Write it down.
Research shows that just by writing down your goals you are 42 percent more likely to achieve them. While many of us may have graduated from string tying to long, oftentimes meandering trails of Post-it® notes to take us from task to task, there’s definitely a better way. Put your notes where you’re always bound to see them, on something you carry around with you everywhere and check all the time: your calendar on your phone. That way, you’ll have a timely reference wherever you are, whenever you need it, and you’ll avoid wasting time or energy in the form of missed or duplicated tasks.
2. Be specific.
How many times have you left yourself a note and been too vague for your own good? You might be trying to simplify things for yourself by taking the shorthand route to your reminders, but after a few days or weeks have gone by, there’s a good chance you won’t remember what an unclear note like “return call” was in reference to. Make things easier on yourself by doing the initial work to be as specific as possible — include location details, links, or attachments to relevant documents so your reminders are as helpful as possible. This tiny extra effort will simplify things for you and pay off in the long run.
3. Share the love.
Sometimes teamwork is the best way to remember something important and get things done. Indeed, 70 percent of people who sent weekly updates to a friend reported successful goal achievement — and that’s compared to 35 percent of those who kept their goals to themselves! Whenever possible, share your reminders with other relevant parties; it will not only help keep your tasks top of mind, it will improve communication and collaboration which, of course, makes everything simpler.
4. Don’t be too ambitious.
The keyword here is simplicity, and it’s important to be mindful of that when you’re planning your day. I’ve spoken before about the perils of multitasking, and the same is true of trying to pack too many reminders into one day. This is the reason syncing your reminders and calendar together is so important: having a visual representation of all the things you want or need to stay aware of will also help you to prioritize what’s most important; everything that can wait until another day, should.
5. Embrace flexibility.
Establishing a routine is a great way to help us prioritize the things in our lives that need our attention. It’s the reason Steve Jobs infamously wore the same outfit every day—one less decision to make in a day full of intensive decision-making. However, we all lead complicated lives that can often blow our cherished routines into little bits. And that’s okay — as long as you’re prepared. Make sure to find a solution that adapts the way your life moves, and empowers you with the ability to easily move things around when you need to. That will help to ensure that you can easily get your routine back on track if it happens to be derailed.
Reminders may seem like the perfect way to simplify and organize our lives, but we often make them ineffective by trying to do too much. After all, anybody who’s downloaded an independent reminder app — to go along with their calendar app, note-taking app, checklist app, and email app — knows the true cost of so-called organization. While these apps may all live on your phone, accessing and coordinating between them all can seem like a full-time job (and there’s nothing less simple or more stressful than that!). When it comes to the life-simplifying powers of reminders, remember this: they should help rather than hinder. These 5 tips will help ensure that your reminders live up to their potential.
Johan Gunnars is an entrepreneur and CEO and co-founder of Simpliday—Meetings, Reminders & Email in One, a new iPhone calendar app allowing users to achieve a more organized and efficient life by bringing together meetings, reminders and email in one customizable, beautiful, user-friendly app. Gunnars experience in productivity, software, e-commerce, consumer electronics, among others, leads him to focus on how companies and products can make a difference while connecting to the overall vision and strategy.