Friday, December 16, 2011

The Conundrum of a Million Endeavors: Using Reminder Cards?

Those of you that have followed me here from Musing Aloud are probably pretty aware that I'm huge into self-improvement. I love taking on new ventures to maximize my abilities and make myself a better and better person, as I believe that realizing my fullest potential literally is necessary for my greatest happiness, and making a continuous practice of picking up these ventures has enhanced my life everywhere from my speaking habits to how I treat people. In fact, it's part of the reason why I've named this blog A Giant Doing, as it's modeled after my favorite quote period ("A giant is as a giant does" - Rod Serling) and that drives my life. So much of my life has been spent around people obsessed with appearance -- smiles instead of happiness, "manners" instead of respect, pretending instead of being -- and I've suffered a lot as a consequence. As such, I'm going to spend the rest of my life concentrating on the substance of my being and behavior, and I think that saying captures the essentials with beautiful concision.

So let's talk about another self-improvement venture.

One thing that has always plagued my ventures is that I often identify more endeavors than I believe I can handle at one time, which leads to internal conflicts in deciding which one to take on first, or on at all. I know the rational thing to do would be to determine a hierarchy of importance in deciding which to tackle first, but I'm not very good at keeping my promises in that realm for later, as those ventures I shelve end up being neglected altogether. What drives me nuts is that these endeavors can feasibly be combined together and worked on concurrently since the time demands are neither imposing nor in danger of overlapping, so the difficulty is that of short-term memory: Setting down my goals and remembering to tackle them when the time comes. When I put a lot on my plate I end up breaking some goals simply because I've forgotten about them, especially when they're time or location sensitive. Should I tone down my aims -- which may lead to the frustrating forgetting or abandonment of efforts -- or is there something else I can do?

Recently I've realized that, by and large, the majority of my efforts have some kind of special trait that leads me to pursue them either at a special time or in a special location. For instance, if I have a goal to alter a speaking practice, then I'm likely to pursue it mostly at work since that's when I do most of my talking. Or if I have a goal to improve my ability to navigate around town, then I'm pretty much only pursuing it in the car. I am, of course, never in the car at the same exact time I'm at work, so these two location-sensitive self-improvement ventures can be done concurrently without overlapping or creating interference. So then I thought: What if I created reminder cards I could carry around with me and consult at their assigned location, so that I don't have to fret about mentally balancing goals or forgetting them? For instance, I could write out a list of goals for work and stick it on my uniform so that I know to take it to work, and for the navigation goals in the car I could leave a note on the driver's seat so that I can't miss it any time I enter the car.

Doing this, I think, could actually increase my capability to pursue more goals at once, as writing them down in a portable form would negate any need to remember them, and sticking them in the appropriate places would both reduce the mental load and worry since I'd only have to concentrate on a few things at once given what my notes deem appropriate.

While I'm not really upset, this is one of those realization that makes me feel silly. I've been big on self-improvement for years now and this problem has always been present, and only now do I figure out a good way to solve it! Well, life is about moving forward, so I won't dwell on missed opportunities and instead focus on perfecting my habits.

This is certainly worth a shot. I've got some good stacks of note paper I can use, so I'll be writing on them and sticking them where appropriate. For now, I don't really have any time-related goals, so I don't know what to do about that. I'll probably use Google Calendar to send me an e-mail reminder or something. Next, I'll need to habituate myself to notice and look at those notes, so that I can always take heed of what they say.

Let's give it a try then.


  1. If you're constantly "forgetting" about goals, you have probably set too many. However, if it is an organizational issue also, check out the "Getting Things Done" (GTD) method for all sorts of great principles and tips you can implement until you find a solution that works for you.

    For what it's worth, I use Evernote mixed with some GTD, a pen and paper sometimes, and good old memory. My phone's calendar alarm, synced up to Google Calendar, is used for anything time-sensitive, but I don't have a lot of that kind of thing.

  2. Thanks. I do utilize Getting Things Done methodology, actually.


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