A couple of years ago, my eye doctor asked me a pretty standard question during my eye exam: “How long have you been wearing this pair of contacts?” I said that I didn’t know, and he frowned. “You have disposable lenses. You throw them out once-a-month and put in new ones. Why do you not do this on the first day of the month?!”
I had never thought of that. And my god, it seems so obvious. Instead, I guess, I just started wearing a new pair of contacts the day the I picked up my new prescription from the eye doctor, and from there I was always always hazarding a guess when the 30 days were up.
Now I put my new contacts in on the first of the month, like clockwork. My eye doctor marvels. He says he can count on one hand the number of patients who do this.
I should probably use this method – this shockingly obvious method – for other tasks and chores. How long has it been since I changed the filter on the water faucet? How long has it been since I dusted the bookshelves? When was the last time I washed the rug in the bathroom? When was the last time I cleaned out the refrigerator? I can answer that question now because we’ve lived in this apartment less than a month.
An alternative, I suppose, would be to put more items on a To Do list. I do find great satisfaction in checking off tasks that I’ve completed, and I have a tendency to add things to a list just so that I can mark them “done.”
I recently added “300 words” to my task list, for example, although the habit of writing daily is well-ingrained and I probably don’t need the reminder. It makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, even if it’s something quite minor and unnecessary.
And it's not really what I am working on each day – The Book – which I just realized doesn’t appear on my task list until the draft is due in April (even though I am penning weekly updates on teachingmachin.es).
Perhaps, on the first of each month, I should just remember to put in new contact lenses, dust the picture frames, and have a chapter written… or something. I don't want to forget.