Hard Stop Reminder
May 13, 2024 2:58 PM   Subscribe

If you are a person who has to leave work at a certain time, say 5pm, how do you remind yourself of the time? Assume you get too many phone notifications for that to be useful and that you may not be sitting in front of a computer, so email reminders might not work. I was thinking about a super low tech watch with alarm function. Something that doesn't have to be charged frequently. Any recommendations or other suggestions? Prefer something not hideous. Some of the watches google suggested were huge and bulky. Also pondering how likely it is for watch to be worn and not forgotten which is always possible.
posted by MadMadam to Work & Money (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I always wear a “low tech watch with an alarm,” and I replace it when the crystal is too scratched for me to stand it. I’ve never replaced a battery, so it doesn’t ever require charging. I’ve used Casios and Timex-branded ones. I can’t make a fashion decision for you so I won’t try that. They usually cost around $30-$40.

A big-box store like Target will have ones you can physically look at, which is easier since sometimes the sizes aren’t apparent from a photo.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 3:04 PM on May 13 [5 favorites]

May I suggest the humble Timex watch with alarm function?

Battery life is measured in years. Consider getting one that is water proof or water resistant to minimize the number of times you need to take it off.
posted by oceano at 3:06 PM on May 13 [4 favorites]

Assume you get too many phone notifications for that to be useful

Just to be clear, you’re ruling out simply setting a recurring alarm on your phone? It seems like an alarm that needs to be turned off is going to be nearly impossible to miss, regardless of other notifications received.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 3:07 PM on May 13 [35 favorites]

I also vote for phone alarm pre-set for all of your work days, with a blaring claxon alarm tone that can't be ignored.
posted by BlahLaLa at 3:11 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]

I work from home and have my office light on a timer. If I work too late the room goes dark on me. It's extremely effective.
posted by phunniemee at 3:17 PM on May 13 [25 favorites]

On the phone alarm front, you can set a special alarm tone to make it stand out. You can even record a message to yourself, like "Time to wrap up", and have it play.

(For important stuff I give myself more than one reminder, since knowing me I might miss one.)
posted by trig at 3:18 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]

Do you notice calendar reminders? I tend to set recurring appointments that show up as free when I need to remind myself to do a thing at a certain time.

I'd suggest that if you have a mechanism for reminding yourself of other things, it's likely going to be easier to fit this new thing in that mechanism in terms of it being something you pay attention to.
posted by Aleyn at 4:04 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]

If you have an earlier anchor time in the afternoon, like a recurring 4pm meeting, get in the habit of drinking a huge glass of water during that meeting so you’ll have to pee around 5.

I would also set a 4:50 pm alarm that plays a happy song I really like.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 4:37 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]

Too many phone notifications to be useful? Maybe reevaluate your notification settings so that you’re not bombarded with so many notifications.

Disable all sound notifications except for critical communication apps like phone, alarm clock, calendar, messaging apps of choice, etc. Mute chatty group threads on your messaging app. Generally speaking, disable all useless notifications and make your phone work for you on your terms.
posted by ellenaim at 4:43 PM on May 13 [18 favorites]

For home-based environments, I have my router set to methodically shut down internet access for my devices (except phone) one after another. This has the drawback of providing no warning "aagh, I didn't click Save!" but I respond well to negative feedback so....

...for moving around in the world I use a Wyze digital watch. It's very cheap, it works surprisingly well, and it holds a charge for about a week as long as I turn off the "raise to wake" function (so it will only turn on the screen when I click a button). Then I charge it in the daytime, which I find reduces the odds I'll neglect to put it on (because I had it on earlier that same day, so now it's weird that I'm not wearing it). I only take it off to charge or shower.
posted by aramaic at 5:22 PM on May 13

At my small office I will just block off my availability with "out of office" and have that be 15-30 minutes before I actually need to leave because there will be last minute things to deal with as I'm walking out the door. It doesn't help if I'm not at my desk but at least I will be before I go in to a client meeting so between me being aware that I have to go at time X and my watch telling me the time I'm OK. If I wanted to I could also set an alarm on my watch (it's a bulky sports watch that isn't easily recognizable as a smartwatch) but so far the system I have has worked.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:51 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]

Since a number of folks above have explained ways a recurring phone alarm appears (???) like it could still fulfill your use case, I will just mention that #1 - it does indeed for me with my medical/Rx alarms, to the point where it sometimes is annoying if it goes off in the car, or at Church, or a school play, and the volume will ramp up until specifically snoozed or cancelled, #2 - on Android I use Alarm Clock Xtreme version 6.6.0 just FYI. YMMV.
posted by forthright at 6:17 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]

Nthing the Times/Casio suggestion.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:00 AM on May 14

Some mechanical watches have alarms. Even with a simpler model though, there’s a subtle sound as gears & seconds slip. This metronome keeps me on pace with all the other reminders chiming in, e.g. computer, phone. The watch face also provides a visual cue: as soon as the hands hit 5, I’m out.

If fashion is your jam, Swatch made that kind of their thing. For instance, they have an entire line of ultra-thin designs. Models from other brands, if you can find them at a price point that works for you, can be even more miniature works of art that it is actually your job to look at regularly.
posted by HearHere at 5:10 AM on May 14

I have to stop work at a certain time to pick my child up from school. I manage it by using a phone alarm. I'm entirely with you about phone notifications, a random beep from my phone could be anything I and I will generally ignore it. But an actual alarm that I have to turn off (or it keeps going and indeed gets louder) is another matter and I can't ignore that. Apologies if there's some reason you can't do this, but I don't see it in your question.
posted by altolinguistic at 5:25 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]

Nthing 1. Phone alarm (my husband literally makes his a steam whistle, to remind him it's clock-out time), and 2. reducing the amount of notifications on your phone.

Very serious on #2. If you're ignoring them, they're not doing their job. I have no notifications save for text messages, phone calls, alarms, and reminders that I pre-choose (such as "make sure you remember to pick up your kid").
posted by knownassociate at 6:45 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]

I set a named alarm on my phone when I have a hard stop. Unlike calendar reminders the alarm requires me to actually do something to cancel it.
posted by jmsta at 7:12 AM on May 14

If you have to be somewhere by a certain time for an appointment, in the iOS calendar app and probably others, you can have it remind you a few times before the appointment time. Here's how mine is set up:

1. Reminder for appointment time
2. Reminder 1 hour before it's time to leave (based on current location and appointment location)
3. Reminder when it's time to leave.

My calendar blocks travel time for most appointments that are some distance away from wherever I'll be at the moment, so I always have a good visual of when I'll need to leave where I am in order to make it to the next thing.
posted by emelenjr at 7:58 AM on May 14

This is not a solution for everyone, but I have a colleague who is visually impaired. Her dog is better than any watch or computer alarm. At noon, he wants his walk (and a pee). He gets up, and regardless of circumstance, phone call, meeting or otherwise, barks and lets his owner know it's time.

Same for four Pm. (We work eight to four).
posted by Colonel Sun at 5:01 AM on May 15

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