Managing To-Do's

A Tip for the On-The-Go Lady

February 12, 2020

I’m Kelly Nolan.
I'm an attorney who'd been decently organized through law school but got quickly overwhelmed as a actual attorney. After nothing else worked for me, I created this system – and kept on practicing law. Years later, I found out others were interested in learning it, so that's what I do now! Let's get this realistic system in your hands so you can start living a life that feels more calm, doable, and that lights you up.
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Hi lady-on-the-go,

A couple of days ago, while driving down the highway, I remembered I needed to call the vet in the morning (Olive’s on the mend now – don’t worry!). Obviously, in that moment, I couldn’t break out my Google Calendar app to calendar that call. But I also knew I’d forget to call if I didn’t put that task in a system right away.

So, I held down the button on my steering wheel that activates Siri and said, “Remind me tomorrow at 8:30am to call the vet about Olive’s paw.” Done. And, at 8:30am the next morning, I got the reminder, called the vet, got my pup in for a 10:30am appointment, and by 11:30am she was home and on the way to recovery.

Why am I sharing this? Because sometimes the things we need to remember to do flash through our minds when we’re driving, out with friends, or have our hands full of a project or child at home.

Sure – blocking time in your calendar for the task is the best way to plan to do and protect time for the task. But that’s not always feasible or, sometimes, even safe. At the same time, if you’re like me, you know you’ll forget about it if you don’t get it into some reminder system in the next… 30 seconds.

So what to do? The main system requirements: a way to get the thing out of your head and into a system that will remind you to do the thing when you need to do it.

This is where Siri comes in.

The trick: If you have an iPhone, take advantage of Siri’s connection to the Reminders app.

Disclaimer: While it’s useful, I’m not overwhelmingly impressed with the Reminders app — I find it too easily stops reminding me to do something. And Siri is not the best at voice recognition. I often later have to piece together what Siri is trying to get me to do. BUT we all know how often you’ll remember to do something in 3 hours without some sort of system when you’ll spend those 3 hours meeting a work deadline, picking up pets/kids, swinging by grocery store for dinner, etc.

So use this trick, but use it sparingly — only when you’re unable to insert tasks immediately into your calendar.

Here’s how to do it…

Step 1: Activate Siri.

Depending on your iPhone model, hold down the power button or the home button until Siri activates. You can also go into Settings and allow Siri to activate just by saying “Hey, Siri” — even if your phone is across the room. I don’t allow this function because I find that it activates unintentionally too often, but I know it works better for some people.

Also – if you’re driving, I only recommend activating Siri if you can do it using your car’s “hands free” set up. I have a little talking head button I hold down to activate Siri, so long as my phone’s plugged in or connected by bluetooth.

Step 2: Ask Siri to remind you.

Say something like, “Remind me in one hour to…” or “Remind me on Wednesday at 7pm to …” Again, the reminder probably won’t be perfect due to Siri’s voice recognition capabilities — just make sure it’s close enough so Future You will know what Siri’s talking about.

AND let’s bring these reminders to a new level: You can ask Siri to “Remind me when I get home…” or “get to work…” to do something. Now, that’s pretty cool. If it’s not working for you, make sure Apple knows your home and work address. Go into Apple’s Contacts app. At the very top, there should be a card with your name on it, with “My Card” in grey text underneath. Make sure your home and/or work physical addresses are in there. And you should be good to go!

Step 3: Dealing with the reminder.

When the reminder goes off, either:

  1. Do the task and then hit complete,

  2. If you can’t do the task right then but can access your calendar, calendar it for a time when you can do it, or,

  3. If you’re on the go again, hit snooze for 1 hour or until tomorrow.

If your reminders start piling up in the Reminders app, during a quieter window of time, I recommend opening up your Reminders app and calendaring the tasks. The Reminders app should NOT be your primary way of handling your tasks — it’s just too finnicky. But it’s certainly handy in a pinch!

In the same vein of not relying on reminders, check out my guide to help reduce your to-do lists and feel more in control.

And that’s that. Let me know how it goes!

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