Make it second nature

A natural extension of using mental resets is to establish a mechanism to revisit really important things on a basis appropriate to help make them second nature. Even if retain something after a month, we still risk losing it. If it’s not that important, that’s not a big deal. But if it is, then we need to revisit it.

This is especially important if we’re working to make something second nature. Like when we want to change how we behave or how we approach situations. With they myriad of ways we can leverage learning to improve, we no doubt stumble upon many ways to improve.

Some of those, we have to let go as time passes. If they served a valuable short term purpose, great. Perhaps someday they’ll be valuable again. If that isn’t certain, there’s no reason to continually refresh ourselves, or at least not very often. We can always pick it back up when the time arises.

But there are other things we’re in the process of changing that may take a substantial amount of time. Especially things for which we don’t readily have opportunities to apply but are nonetheless very important. For example, if you want to develop a better process to on board a customer into your business. You probably don’t meet a new customer every day. Maybe a couple a month. And of those, not every one will get far enough into your process to really test your recollection.

Or, sometimes we’ve established habits we’re trying to break. Repeated practice is the only way to beat our minds into submission.

In these situations, it can be helpful to create a system to remind ourselves of the things we should be learning. The opportunities we should watch for. A system of reflection.

Here are some tips for creating such a system:

  • Focus on what’s really important. Prioritize.
  • Use appropriate time-frames to match potential opportunity.
    • For example, if you want to alter your customer on-boarding, a reminder once a week may be sufficient. On Monday, set a reminder. Review any customer on-boarding from the prior week, see how you’re doing. Plan for upcoming on boarding for the rest of the week.
    • If it’s something you do daily, a daily reminder might be best.
  • Reminders should dismiss themselves, if you miss reminders, they’ll come up again. They shouldn’t pile up for past days, weeks and months. This will decrease the effectiveness. Just get over it if you miss a reminder, the next will come before you know it.
  • Wean yourself of the reminders. Add a monthly reminder to do this. If you have a daily habit, and you’re doing it most days before you get a reminder, change the reminder to every 3 days. Or every week.
    • If it’s weekly, and you feel comfortable most weeks, make it every other week or monthly.
    • Monthly can move to bimonthly, quarterly, etc.
    • If you fear losing something important, especially things you use infrequently, retire the reminder to every 3 or 6 months.
  • If progress slips, move the reminder up, ie: weekly to daily
  • The more you remind yourself about, the less effective the system will be.
    • Try to minimize frequencies less than one week. You can only have a few things in here. Believe me, if you get too many, you won’t even do it on a weekly basis.
    • Weekly is still pretty frequent. Keep this list short too. That said, there are seven days in a week. Spread the reminders out.
    • You can have quite a few monthly reminders, but at the point it’s a monthly reminder, you really are just leaving a safety net that you don’t forget about it. You aren’t going to build habits by doing something once a month.
  • Consider randomly reminding yourself. Make it a surprise. The oh yeah moment.
  • Use a system you trust and reminders you’ll actually be reminded of. Turn off notifications that get in the way. Like the department store sale that happens every week.

Reminders to progress