I’ve not always been the most organized of people — for that you’d have to turn to my wife or mother, both of whom are constantly armed with calendars and schedules that chart their lives down into 15-minute segments. We often joked as kids that our mom’s Franklin organizer was her auxiliary brain.
Now the joke’s on me, I guess. With my jobs, family, and interests all growing, I’ve started to flounder in keeping track of everything I need to do. Just having to keep track of two school calendars last year resulted in a few instances of me forgetting something like the kids getting out early on a certain day. So lately I’ve surrendered to my own auxiliary brain: my smartphone.
I’ve been using two things to help me keep on top of everything that is outside of my normal daily routine. The first is the iPhone’s simple reminder feature. Anytime I need to jot off a quick reminder to do something within the next 24 hours, I’ll simply tell the phone to zip me off that reminder at a certain time (usually when I arrive at work or come home). People chuckle at church when they see me constantly talking to my phone to remind me of this or that, but hey, it works surprisingly well.
For more long-term planning, I’ve been using Evernote extensively. It’s a neat little program that allows you to access text files across multiple devices (the current free version is limited to two, so I use my phone and work computer). While my to-do list is usually hand-written, I use Evernote more for my upcoming schedule — meetings, important dates, and so on.
One way that I’ve started to expand its use is to set monthly reminders to do regular tasks that I sometimes forget, such as send out birthday cards to teens or bring my wife flowers at work (there’s a florist here that sells these cards that you can use to get a bouquet every month for a year, but if you forget a particular month then you’re out of luck). I’ve been setting reminders to check on the free Kindle first book of the month, notes when certain books and DVDs are coming out, and even reminders about upcoming MMO releases.
So I’m 40 and I need a part-time brain. My mom did too — mine’s just a little smaller and more cloud-based.