Need to Read
November 8, 2010 8:35 AM   Subscribe

Help me remind myself NON-ELECTRONICALLY to read twice a day at work.

I need to read at least a chapter, in separate books (printed books, not ebooks), twice daily at work (public library). A few relevant factors:

-I have my own desk and computer in a shared office, but I spend at least part (2-6 hours) of every day at the reference desk. So my reminders need to be portable, or at least take my absence from my desk into account. I can, however, get the reading done at the reference desk in most cases.

-Due to the nature of my job, my reading time is usually interrupted multiple times for varying lengths of time, so the reminder needs to be fairly "constant" (i.e., more like "Get back to reading first chance," not "Here's your reminder to start your uninterrupted reading today").

-It's not feasible for me to ask my boss to build "reading time" into my schedule whaddaya think this is, a library?!, although she doesn't have a problem with my reading at my desk or the reference desk. The reading material in question is either professional literature or books I need to read for book club, to stay up on what's popular, etc.

-Electronic reminders (e-mail, alarm clock software, text messages) haven't solved this problem for me. I think I use them so much for so many other things that it's too easy to just ignore them. Same goes for old-fashioned methods like a post-it on my computer monitor-- I'll just learn to ignore it after a while.

-I'm (usually) fairly interested in what I need to get read, so it's not a case of fighting "intentional" forgetting.

So I'm open to any suggestions, whether they're specific tricks or gadgets, or more general tips about focusing or habits.
posted by Rykey to Work & Money (13 answers total)
Keep the book out and in your view with a big ol' bookmark to draw your attention.

Or find a reading buddy to help remind each other, assuming that you're not the only one who's supposed to do this.
posted by Mercaptan at 8:53 AM on November 8, 2010

Book in the fridge!
(Or at least near the fridge/utensils, so that when you get hungry or thirsty they're there to remind you of the power of eating and reading at once. If that fails, make the last step of packing a lunch be putting the post-it reminder on the bag/apple/lasagna.)
posted by iamkimiam at 8:53 AM on November 8, 2010

Put a reminder in your boxers/briefs/panties so that you are reminded every time you go to the bathroom. That should be weird enough for you to not ignore it.

I think a problem is that we habituate to everything after a while, so its best to turn it into a habit somehow.

Make a habit out of reading at lunch.
Make a habit out of picking up your book and reading every time you sit down at the desk or complete a task, putting of everything non-urgent until you have completed your reading for the day.
posted by spr at 8:55 AM on November 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Two rubber bands around your wrist. They'll be intrusive enough to notice half a dozen times a day, but not enough to stop you doing anything. And if they end up being useful for something else, you can use taking one off as your reminder.
posted by Ahab at 9:15 AM on November 8, 2010

I don't think this is really a question that has an answer. What you've said boils down to: "Even when I am prompted, I still cannot remember to do something. How can I remember to do something?"

Any suggestions such as the obvious put a "post-it on your monitor" you've already ruled out. I really don't see how anyone can suggest something which hasn't already been ruled out by your rather esoteric demands. Apologies if I'm not coming across as constructive, but you really have to give us something to work with.
posted by Biru at 9:19 AM on November 8, 2010

Response by poster: What you've said boils down to: "Even when I am prompted, I still cannot remember to do something. How can I remember to do something?"

Nah. It's more like "When I'm prompted to do something in the ways I have tried, I can't do something. What other methods can I try?" The suggestions so far are on the right track.
posted by Rykey at 9:25 AM on November 8, 2010

can you write something on the inside of your wrist? Maybe the last sentence you've read, so it would be different every day? (and also remind you of what you last read, so getting back into it might be a tad easier) tie a piece of string around your pinky? the latter works for me, but I can see how you might get used to it. I like the underwear message idea.
posted by bluefly at 9:31 AM on November 8, 2010

How about...
Wear a lightweight satchel crosswise on your body with your two books in it, so they are with you at either desk, and you will feel them with you when you are walking. When your reading is interrupted, place the book in your lap rather than on the desk, so you don't forget about it. When you get up from the desk where you were reading, untie one shoe to remind yourself to return to reading when you finish that task.
posted by xo at 9:37 AM on November 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

1) The food one. Read at lunch and at coffee/breakfast/snack-time. Read everytime you take a coffee or refill your water bottle.
2) Alternatively, read in/after every visit to the bathroom (if you're sitting). If you're one of the work-day tooth-brushers, add it to that time.
3) Add the chapter names/numbers to your calendar and x them off as you read them. As stupid as it is, this gives me a little satisfaction because that fucker is DONE.
posted by whatzit at 9:57 AM on November 8, 2010

Maybe carry a timer that you can set to go off every 20 minutes (or other appropriate time) - only use it to remind you to get back to reading.
posted by mskyle at 10:58 AM on November 8, 2010

How about... Find a type of candy (sugared or sugar free, doesn't matter) that comes in both flavors you love, and flavors you hate. Fill a box or opaque jar with a set number of the flavors you love (say 120). Throw in some (say 60) of the flavor you hate. Allow yourself 9-12 hits on the candy jar during the course of the day.

If you get the flavor you hate, you have to do your reading immediately. Have notes to this effect stuck on the jar, and the edge of the garbage bin. Also have coworkers briefed to remind you that a puckered face or retching noises means that it is reading time.

(And even if you somehow never get the flavor you hate, you'll be living in such terrible terrible fear of it, that you'll remember to read every time you reach for candy..)
posted by Ahab at 11:20 AM on November 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Can you post a sign that faces you at the reference desk, but is not really visible to patrons, that reminds you to read?

If your phone has a vibrate mode for alarms, maybe you would respond more to that, rather than an audible alarm. Or instead of using the ring tones that came with your phone, record one with your own voice (or Morgan Freeman's voice - who could ignore the voice of God??) saying "Remember to read!" or whatever.

Can you prop the book up on some kind of reading stand, and leave it there on the reference desk next you?
posted by SuperSquirrel at 11:58 AM on November 8, 2010

Alternately, you could follow Ahab's tasty suggestion, but with the roles of the candies reversed, so that you associated the flavor you don't enjoy with not reading, and the flavor you enjoy with the opportunity to read.
posted by aniola at 8:19 AM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

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