Roman Malanke

Things as Reminders of Themselves

There is one specific benefit of practicing order in everyday life that I’ve noticed so many times during the last couple of weeks that it has amassed forcing me to write this post. I am talking about using things as reminders of themselves. The easiest way to explain what I mean by that is to look at my typical routine on returning home after a work day.

I enter my apartment tired and happy after the exciting salsa class that followed a super productive day at work. I have about an hour to unpack, grab a quick supper and get ready to go to bed if I want to wake up refreshed next morning. In addition to that, there are many little things I want to squeeze into the remaining time. In fact so many that I would definitely forget about some if I didn’t practice order in my living space and couldn’t use things as reminders of themselves.

Here’s what usually happens. My first thought is that I must make sure my swimming gear is taken out of the backpack to dry up during the night. So the first thing I do is put the backpack on the empty floor in the middle of the room. Then while changing clothes I remember that I will need ice next morning. With that I go to the kitchen and take the ice container out of the freezer and put it on the empty table. While the water for the ice is being boiled in the kettle, I return to the living room, see the backpack and start unpacking it. In the process I remember that I need to sync new podcasts to my iPod so that the next morning I have my regular Spanish lesson on the go. But I decide to do that after the supper, so I just put iPod on the empty desk next to the laptop. After finishing with the supper I notice the ice container and see that the boiled water has cooled by now, so I fill the container and put it in the freezer. Back in the room I see the iPod on the desk and it triggers me to turn on the computer and sync the podcasts. While sync is in progress I see a lone video file on the empty desktop and that reminds me that I promised to email it to a friend, so I do that…

I could go on and mention many other things I do that evening, but I think you get the idea by now. There is no need to worry about todo lists or implement complicated GTD systems, because things can remind of themselves. The only necessary condition is the discipline to keep the surrounding environment in order.