I normally review my quarterly goals each morning, which is a good habit for staying focused on them throughout the quarter. One new habit I’ve started is to also review a daily reminders list. This is a list of good practices that I want to refresh in my mind each morning, so I can remember to practice them.
The reminders list is good for habits that are difficult to anchor to just one time of day. This can include mindsets, frames, values, and practices that I may want to embody throughout the day. The list is very flexible though, so I can also use it to remind myself of positive habits and their benefits.
My reminders list is pretty long – too long actually – so I want to cull it down to make it more succinct. I started by making an exhaustive list. I can strip away the less important items that really don’t need a daily reminder. I think it’s good to get the list down to a page or less, so it can be reviewed more quickly.
Here are some ideas for what you could include on a daily reminders list:
- Your favorite morning routine
- Your favorite evening routine
- Your favorite weekend activities
- Reminders about how to use your personal time purposefully
- Your key areas of focus: health, relationships, business, etc.
- Your favorite habits that benefit you
- New habits in progress
- The current book you’re reading
- The last time you changed your contact lenses (for 30-day kind)
- Favorite activities that aren’t daily
- Your favorite exercises or workouts and when to do them
- Your best diet advice to yourself: dos and don’ts
- The healthiest foods you want to eat more frequently
- How much caffeine is best for you (or none at all)
- Trigger foods you want to avoid
- Personal blind spots to watch out for
- Risks you need to stay on top of
- A reminder to look for opportunities each day
- A reminder to practice gratitude
- A reminder to type shorter emails
- A reminder to sometimes practice silence
- A reminder to be compassionate towards your future self when making decisions
- Your best practices for unwinding at the end of a workday as you transition back to personal time
- A list of some trips and vacations you want to take
- A list of your top 10 friends that you want to connect with more often
- Some of your long-term dreams
- A few reminders of your favorite memories
- Your best practices for relaxing when you’re stressed
- Your best practices for amping up the stimulation when you’re bored
- A reminder to take breaks during your workday
- Some favorite songs that make you feel good
- Your favorite music to listen to while working (I love anything by Jessita Reyes)
- Your best productivity practices
- Your favorite productivity apps to use
- Areas of focus that you want to pay more attention to
- A reminder to cut back on behaviors that aren’t serving you (and what to do instead)
One reason my list is so big is that many of my daily reminders don’t need to be daily. It contains many sublists. Some of these could be bumped to a weekly or monthly reminder list instead. I do find that a long list is still better than none at all, even if I just take a couple of minutes to skim through it. But the risk of having too many items is that it could clutter my mind instead of helping me focus on the essentials.
One great use of a daily reminder is to warn yourself about blind spots in your thinking. This can help you remain watchful of known weaknesses and traps you’ve fallen into before. So if you have a tendency to overspend on items you don’t need, you could include a daily remind to be frugal and watch out for unnecessary expenses. However you tend to unbalance your life, you can remind yourself to pay attention to the areas where you tend to under-invest, especially while feeling overly busy.
Daily reminders are especially good for changing long-term health habits. You could have daily reminders for some of these good practices if you’re looking to improve your eating habits, for instance:
- Take pics of all meals and snacks; review at end of week.
- Eat slowly and mindfully to 80% full; save leftovers.
- Wait 20 min after eating before considering eating more.
- Favor foods with low caloric density, low fat intake, lots of veggies; measure quantities for denser foods.
- Favor raw foods, whole foods, low-fat foods, nutritarian, variety of colors.
- Reduce or eliminate refined sugars.
Your list doesn’t have to be beautiful, so even a hastily created one that you scribble out in a few minutes could be better than none. The key is to establish the habit of reviewing it daily. I like to review mine each morning while sipping a green smoothie.
For some items it’s fine to just include the what. For others you may want to briefly mention the why as well, so you can link the behavior to the purpose behind it. Reminding yourself of the purpose behind your best practices can help you with consistency.
What are some essentials to include on your list? Where do you lose sight of your best practices? Where do you tend to slip after a while? Where are you struggling to be more consistent? Daily reminders can help with all of these.
Daily reminders also create a sense of accountability. If you’re slacking off on some of your best practices, these reminders will alert that you’re falling short. It doesn’t feel good to be reminded of this, and the daily reminders keep that unpleasant realization right in your face. If you try to justify your sliding, your own purposeful reminders will hold you accountable and encourage you to raise your standards. You’ll have to face the music each time you review your list.
This practice is good for prevention too. It’s harder to slack off on a good habit when you keep reminding yourself of its benefits each day, such as by reminding yourself that exercise boosts your mood, clarity, mental endurance, depth of concentration, creativity, and immunity.
I encourage you to test this habit for yourself. It’s easy to get started. Just make a list. Then you can ask one of your devices to remind you to review it each day. Or you could place a physical copy of your list somewhere conspicuous, like taped to your bathroom mirror, so you’ll automatically see it each day.
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