Lifehacks: Externalizing Your Brain

We’ve been experimenting with lifehacks, and wanted to share one of our favorite recent discoveries. These are portable & rearrangeable notes, which are useful for tracking spending, keeping reminders with you throughout the day, and reordering components of complex things like documents, slide decks, or task orderings. They let you externalize your reminders and thoughts into the world, so you have less mental energy bound up in keeping track of things and more for things that matter. You really ought to buy full-adhesive sticky notes.

Unlike the post-its you’re familiar with, these sticky notes have adhesive across almost the entire back, which makes them much more useful; they don’t fall down or tear like regular post-its, and can be re-stuck wherever you need them.

Some of the big uses we have found so far:

Better Incidental Expense Tracking

Let’s be honest: it is really, really easy to lose track of how much you are incidentally spending during a day. $4 for a latte, $17 for lunch, random amounts in groceries every few days, maybe an iced tea on a hot day; these transactions add up, and it is hard to make improvements to your spending without knowing where the money goes.

These sticky notes make it easy to keep track: get a plastic card that fits in a wallet (like a library, grocery, or credit card), and put a sticky on that card in your wallet as you leave home every day. Carry a pen with you, and whenever you open your wallet to pay for something, write down the rounded amount on the sticky. At the end of the day, transfer the sticky to a calendar (or rewrite into the calendar if you want). At a glance, you can see roughly how much you are spending out-of-pocket, every day that you have done this.

Keep Todos With You

I usually have a couple random minor tasks on any given day. (For example, “make this phone call”, “pick that up on the way home”.) However, I usually forget these during the flow of the day, and too often they go uncompleted. If I need to remember something before leaving for the day, I usually hide my keys on top of it so I have an active reminder before I head out; these notes make it easy to do the same thing with random tasks. Putting a sticky on the back of your phone with the jobs that need doing will provide you with reminders throughout the day, giving you several prompts to get those things done. (I know that I usually pull out my phone on my walk to the car, aka right before I need to run errands, or during the small lulls of the day ideal for getting something done.)

Contextual Reminders

These notes don’t just have to live on your person! 1. put ideas you want to keep in mind on the back of your front door, 2. errands on the dash of your car, 3. follow-up notes on your desk at work to remind you to ping that person if they don’t respond by a certain time.

I promise you, if you start small habits of offloading your brain into something better for persistent tracking, you will feel a weight lift off your shoulders. These notes have an 88% 5-star rating on Amazon as of this writing, and 200 of them costs $5; try them out, and see the difference $5 can make in your well-being!