I don’t exactly have the best short term memory. I remember being a teenager living with my parents. They would ask me to do something, like, clean my room or take the dog for a walk. I would agree to do so, and almost immediately forget. It wasn’t a vindictive thing, where I would intentionally forget, I was often willing to do the thing they asked me to do. I just plain forgot. It would even apply to things that I would clearly want to do, like eat dinner. I would make myself something in the microwave, step away from it for a moment, and only realize an hour or two later that I had already made dinner and it was just cold again. This, unfortunately, has carried over into my adult life. I often get the feeling that I am forgetting something, whether it is while I am at the grocery store, or if I am just sitting at home.
A specific timed alarm is a great way for you to force yourself to take action on specific tasks. If nothing else, it is a physical reminder of something that you need to do, increasing the chance that you will actually do it. I use primarily for daily or weekly tasks that I have a hard time remembering. For example, I use alarms for daily tasks like getting out of bed and taking my vitamins. Every weekday I have two alarms. One for getting up and out of bed to start my day, and another one about 30 minutes later to remind me to take my vitamins for the morning. I’ve tried all sorts of ways of remembering to do vitamins, and the only way that has worked so far is having an alarm.
I also use alarms for weekly chores, like taking out the garbage and the recycling. Because we just moved, I’m not used to the schedule of refuse and recycling pickup. They come on different days, and on different weeks, so it is difficult for me to remember when I am used to the same day, each and every week. So I set up an alarm to go off just before I would normally head out for work, as a way to provoke myself to leave a little early and to take the trash out with me when I go. I may eventually get used to the habit and get rid of the alarm, but until I stop getting surprised from the alarm going off every other Wednesday, I’m keeping it. It saves me the stress of trying to figure out whether or not they are coming to pick up the garbage this Wednesday, or next, and it saves me from having to make a trip to the dump with my trash.
I think monthly tasks are the best suited for setting up alarms. They come infrequently enough that it is very difficult for them to become a habit or ritual. I set up alarms for monthly tasks like paying bills, or going over bank accounts. These are things that need to be done on time each and every month, but are often neglected or forgotten about. Setting an alarm will not only force you to remember, but will also guilt you into knowing that you no longer have a choice about whether or not to balance your chequebook. It’s that time of the month, it needs to be done. Missing a bill payment or two can really add up financially, so it is definitely in your best interest to make sure that you are always remembering to pay your bills on time. Setting up a specific alarm for the task may just be what you need in order to consistently get your bills paid on time.
Finally, I use alarms for yearly events like Birthdays/Anniversaries, setting up or updating a will, making changes to benefit plans, and the like. There are tons of things that can only be done once per year, and if you miss it or forget, you’ll probably end up paying for it more than just financially. I set up yearly alarms to remind me before it is too late so that I can take action.