The Importance of Reminders in my Trusted System

A snippet from my OneNote trusted system
A snippet from my OneNote based Trusted System

I have a sieve for a brain. I can forget things easily. Really easily.

I blame this on my A.D.D, my general anxiety and some weapons grade hedonism in my early twenties.

There is so much stuff whizzing around inside my head at all times; it is an utter mess in there. Recall is a real problem. This is why a Trusted System is so important for me to even attempt to get stuff done. Information has to be out of my brain and indexed ready for quick recall, else it gets lost in the sea of noise and chaos.

This post is not about my own systems for recall and habit forming, though. I have written on this subject in the past, during my ‘recovery’ phase. Back then (2015-16) I needed a vice like grip on my day and my life for fear that I might slip back into the deepest of ruts. I had a very tight morning routine and an arguably insanely complicated OneNote based productivity system.

These days happy, active and – mostly, don’t forget the 80/20 rule – wholesome living me is much more relaxed in terms of my day and life planning. I still use OneNote and indeed would be utterly lost without it on all of my devices for either capture or recall, but the structure is much looser.

I still rise early(ish), especially during the lighter months. I still ‘timebox‘ weekly and I do endeavor to make some sort of rough plan for my day over a cup of tea, first thing.

Of all the things I did put into place during that period, however. The biggest game changer was a set of ‘reminders’ that I refer to on a semi regular basis.

These reminders are not to do items or ‘next actions’. No, they are much more important. These reminders ground me. As I have become the sort of person I want to be and have started to live the sort of life I want to live, I have a little cheat sheet. A checklist to help me make sure I am on the right track.

Inspired by a Twitter exchange with Christopher Murphy I thought I would share my own list of simple reminders. I have removed a few of the more personal ones from my actual list and the sub items in italics I have added for clarity.

My Simple Reminders

I am kind to myself, always
Best piece of life advice ever. Stop giving yourself a hard time already.

I try to do something I love every day, even if only for 5 minutes
Life is far too short. Don’t put off enjoyment of it for some later time, be enjoying some of it right now. Today.

I am building a life I do not need a holiday from
Actively working on this.

I do not allow fear to control my actions. I understand that success lives on the other side of fear and resistance. I also understand that I define what my success looks like. Don’t compare!
Shout out to the social anxiety massive 👊

I focus on the positives so that they manifest
Focus on what you do want, not what you don’t want.

I try to add value to other people’s lives whenever possible

I drink water and snack on fruit during the day

I menu plan weekly and shop based off that
This definitely slips!

I eat real actual food that I have cooked from scratch the majority of the time
I find the time because I love doing it. See also: Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food.

I try not drink alcohol during the week (or on the night before a training run)
An ideal and this definitely slips (as my belly will testify)

I try to meditate every day for at least 10 minutes
Always a ‘must do better’ here. I use Insight Timer.

I stretch as much as possible
Yoga FTW. Want to stay supple into old age? Start right now.

I am becoming more conscious in my consumption habits. I definitely don’t need more stuff to be happy. Secondhand is best
No brainer. Less is more.

I try and read through these weekly, daily if I am having a particularly productive period. I scan read this and a page full of quotes and it takes a few minutes.

Of course the items on the list are personal to me, yours will be different. But I suggest that as a habit to build into your day or week, it is a low-bandwidth, but powerful way to help keep your life on track. For me as long as most of the above statements remain true, I know I’m doing OK 👍

You may also be thinking “why on earth would you need to write this stuff down? It’s not a long list, what’s wrong with you? Just remember it all”.

Well, as I say, I have a crap memory. Writing it down and referring back to it regularly does mean some of it actually becomes reality, else I’d forget!

Do you use a reminders system like this? If so, what do you have on your list? Let me know below.


One response to “The Importance of Reminders in my Trusted System”

  1. Hieronymous Avatar

    Thank you, this is great. Gets us away from just thinking of OneNote as micro-managing To Do lists. Taking a moment to remember to take a moment. Also that it’s the trying and not necessarily achieving 100% of everything. Please know that this post is still useful and appreciated even though it’s been a couple of years.

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