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Blog // Productivity
May 26, 2020

The Beauty Of Using An Ending Notification

Many of us are good at setting reminders for all the things we need to do. But, as we become increasingly busy, we might also want to set reminders so we can end the current task well.

The days of quarantine and isolation have also been a time of experimentation. For a lot of people, it’s been an experiment with working from home. And, for those of us who usually work from home, it’s been an experiment in turning our homes into co-working spaces.

But, either way, it’s been a big experiment.

I’ve had to experiment with time management. One of my favourite daydreaming exercises has been to wonder about having more hours in the day or more days in the week. I’ve been busy, juggling writing, cooking, work administration, cooking, chores, cooking, family time, cooking, exercising and of course, cooking.

Right now, I’m dreaming of a 27-hour day!

We Only Set Half The Reminders We Need

When we schedule something, we often use a reminder (or timer) to remind us to do it. But remembering what to do and when to do it is only half the problem.

When we feel rushed, stressed or overwhelmed, it’s often because we can’t transition well from one thing to another. We jump from task to task feeling like none of them have been finished properly. We try to remember things so we can pick up where we left off, and we often begin something new amidst the mess left over from the task we were doing before.

As well as setting a reminder for the start of something, I’m also setting reminders for a few minutes before the end as well.

How To Use Ending Reminders

Such reminders are especially important for tasks you might not be able to finish in the allocated time.

For example, I do emails in two slots of one hour each, usually on Tuesdays and Fridays. Some weeks, that’s enough to get me to inbox zero. Often it isn’t. But, those two hours a week are enough to make sure all the fires are put out.

However, in any one of those slots, there’s a dance between chaos and order. Keystrokes and cursor movements become more frantic as replies are beaten together, messages are archived and deleted, and notes are made for future reference.

More often than not, I feel defeated at the end, staring at all the messages still in the inbox and unsure about what has really been accomplished.

By setting an ending reminder for 15 minutes before the session finishes, you can own the final minutes of a task. By focussing for a few minutes on any remaining important emails, you can end with the feeling the hour has been meaningful and significant. Making some notes on outstanding issues and sending any outstanding reminder emails reinforces the feeling that projects are moving forwards.

Finally, putting away any open notes and closing the email app, any related files and browser windows will help you to clear your mind in readiness for the next task.

The Emotional Journey Of Getting Things Done

It’s fascinating to notice the emotions the ending notification creates. When the timer goes off, how do you feel about soon ending the task?

Maybe, you feel frustration because you don’t have more time to complete the task. Or relief it’s ending soon. Or something in between.

Reflecting on these emotions can reveal a lot about the way you’ve scheduled your tasks. Maybe, you’re cutting short the flow of doing something you do well but which requires a bigger chunk of your time? Maybe you resent devoting so much time to something taxing that could be broken into smaller chunks, or handled differently?

Too often we use our schedule to fight against our intuitions. Sure, we need a schedule to make sure we have time for the important stuff. And yes, we need to fight the urge to waste time, such as procrastinating when something seems hard or unpleasant.

We can also use our schedule, especially ending notifications, as a listening tool, a way to eavesdrop on the rise and fall of our emotional state as we go through our days, revealing things we might not have realised about how we feel.

The Joy Of Starting Clean

Of course, the simplest benefit of using ending notifications is the joy of beginning each new task with a clean environment.

Starting a new task in the debris of the previous one is like trying to cook dinner with a sink full of dirty dishes from the previous meal and dirty pots and pans on the hob.

With this simple change to your workflow – a few extra timers and notifications in your schedule –s you can make your life simpler, a bit less stressful and maybe even, a lot more meaningful.

Responses
Jacqui 3 months ago

I love this idea and have not been using timers so much of late. Which one do you use? Is the image from Notion or another software? The idea of closing a task fully when your time on it is over is indeed enticing…

    fernando 3 months ago

    The image is from Fantastical, which is my calendar app also what I’m using for ending timers.

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