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Alarming New Reality

Perhaps even more frustrating then memory loss is the general sense of being overwhelmed. I no longer have a consistent schedule with traditional 9 to 5 office hours, and this lack of routine makes each day completely different. This might sound good but in reality every day starts to blend together. Is it Tuesday? Saturday? Maybe it is Wednesday. During the course of my recovery, I found it necessary to develop an alarm strategy to help me maintain an active and independent lifestyle when I returned to NYC in 2010.

This is a strategy I still use today. At any given point in any given day, my iPhone is alive with activity. It is ringing, dinging, buzzing, and busy with alarms guiding me towards what I am to do next. When I settle into bed each night, I consult the iCal and set alarms for the next day’s activities.

During the early days of my recovery when I first returned to NYC, I sometimes had more than twenty alarms which helped me balance doctor appointments, therapy sessions, and basic living reminders, like when to eat meals. My apartment was littered with Post-It notes reminding me to brush my teeth, take my meds, grab my MetroCard, bring cash, pack lunch and lock the front door. Do I have the right coat or gear for today’s weather? What time is that appointment again? How do I get there? It was really difficult to just simply leave the apartment…

I recently retired the last few Post-It notes that hung on the front door next to my keys: “SILENCE iPHONE while in transit” and “Check maps and addresses before leaving.”

In addition my daily reminders, I also have alarms to help me stay consistent with taking classes at the gym and at my spiritual center, Unity of New York. For example, today’s 12 alarms indicate a very light and spiritual day of activity:

6:00 AM: Live Your Dreams — Daily Word (wake up alarm)
7:30 AM: Meditate 10-minutes with Calm (daily)
7:59 AM: Prayer Call with Lisa (weekdays)
8:30 AM: Vitamins (daily)
8:59 AM: Prayer Call with PP (weekdays)
9:58 AM: Unity of New York Prayer Call (Tuesdays and Thursdays weekly)
10:10 AM: Call gym to reserve spot in Spin Class
10:45 AM: Dress for class & light lunch before Spin
2:00 PM: Prepare for Francesca appointment
3:00 PM: Balance checkbook
4:00 PM: Francesca two-hour appointment
9:00 PM: Gratitude practice: share 3 things we’re grateful for (with Augustus nightly)

These alarms have their corresponding tones. For example, I have used the “Marimba” tone the longest. It was originally a “Take Medication” alarm that is now used as a “Take Vitamins” reminder. The “Bell Tower” tone sounds like church bells and reminds me when to pray. The least irritating tone “Uplift” is used most frequently for a variety of reminders.

One habit I helpful is “Snoozing” alarms when I just need a few more minutes to complete the task I am currently working on. I find this snooze option is a necessary interruption. It can be a bit annoying but ensures that I will not move on without completing the snoozed alarm’s task first. On particularly full days, one alarm can quickly become 4 simultaneous Snoozing alarms. This can pose a noisy challenge but still keeps a log of what I have or have not completed yet.

During our courtship and since our marriage, my husband Augustus has rarely complained about all the iPhone noise. He understands it is a necessary tool and part of my everyday life and in fact has asked me to occasionally set an alarm for him too.

— excuse me, I was just alerted to eat a light lunch for today’s 12 PM Spin class, so pardon me.

Little of this could have been effectively done without the iPhone alarms.

Posted in Blog on October 17, 2017.

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