How to Remember to Do Something

I forgot to take my meds (again) yesterday evening. I’m supposed to be taking calcium and CoQ10 every day. And I’m supposed to be taking them with food.

I almost never forget to take my meds in the morning or at bedtime because I pair pill-taking with teeth-brushing and face-washing. I automatically do all three things every morning and night. My meds are stored right next to the toothpaste and soap. When I see one of those things, I also see the other two, which gives me an extra visual reminder in case my auto-pilot gets turned off.

The problem is that I don’t have a regular evening routine. We eat dinner at different times, depending on what’s happening on a particular day. Sometimes we go out for dinner. Sometimes we totally skip dinner and have wine and cheese while watching a movie. Clearly, I need to find a solution to my problem.

What Would a Professional Organizer Do?
Adopting good habits, remembering to remember – these are the situations most of my clients face. I find that it is the absence of consistent habits and routines that is at the root of many of their organizing challenges. Here are some suggestions I give them:

Store things near the place where you use them. Take the time to put things away in logical, convenient places so you can find them when you need them. Hmmm, that means I should keep a container of my evening pills in my purse, so I’ll have them with me if I go out to dinner.

Rely on external reminders. Are you suffering from CRS disease? (Can’t Remember Stuff) Relying on external cues to remember to do something is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of intelligence and organization! External reminders of routine tasks free our minds to focus on other, more important or interesting things. One external reminder we all (hopefully) use is a calendar. I don’t have to focus on remembering that Monday night is garbage night when I can put a reminder on my calendar to take out the trash. Another external reminder is an alarm. Hmmm, I could set an alarm on my phone to go off at 7:30 p.m. every day to remind me to take my evening meds.

Pair a new activity with an old habit. My husband and I once took dancing lessons. At the first lesson, our instructors taught us one dance step. We thought this was a sneaky way to get us to keep taking more lessons. At the second lesson, we practiced the first step (which we learned quite well at the first lesson) and then paired it with the second step. They added a new step at each lesson until we eventually could do the entire dance. Turned out that this was a pretty good way to learn to dance. What do you already do routinely without thinking about it much? If you’re trying to adopt a new habit, try pairing it with your existing routine. Hmmm, I always lock the house doors after dinner. I could pair taking my evening meds with locking the doors.

Hey, thanks for helping me think this through! I think I’ll remember to take my pills this evening now.

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