Remembering to forget, then forgetting anyway

I’m trying to form the habit of taking vitamin D with the cue of eating breakfast.

Mostly I take it, but it’s not at all reliable. I tend to get reminded (beeminded?) by beeminding, not by the intended cue. This is much, much, much better than nothing – but I want to take it from there and make it routine.

I try things like pegging the tablets to breakfast cereal. Then I end up doing things like getting the pills out, leaving them on the surface right in front of my nose, making breakfast (usually cereal, takes all of 20 seconds) then immediately forgetting to take them and wandering off. Or eating a different cereal and not noticing the pegged tablets (hm I need to put all the cereal in one place… but on evidence so far I bet I’d still miss it 5 cm away).

I’ve tried trying to associate taking the first mouthful of cereal with taking the pills. Hasn’t stuck so far.

I’ve tried putting up notes for myself. I ignore them after a day or two.

I’ve tried coming up with weird and changing rituals: one day I passed the tablets around me thrice widdershins at night, so that I might remember that ridiculous behaviour the next morning. Didn’t work.

This has been going on for months!



I think setting an actual alarm on your phone is best. Strict rule: no dismissing the alarm until you’ve taken the vitamin or at least put the bottle on your keyboard or done something else as a plan to forget.

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There’s an app on the iPhone called Due. You can set recurring reminders with it but the benefit is that if you forget to do The Thing and check the item off your list, it goes off again in either 1 or 5 minutes. I love it.Having that go off again a minute later gets me right back on course if the phone rang or a Slack message came in or etc. and makes it far less likely that I’ll get distracted mid-task and never return.

I don’t know if that’ll help you to bind the cue to the habit, though. It might, I guess, if it eventually just becomes something you get used to doing. I think we probably usually remember to brush our teeth before bed, for instance, even if we’ve been distracted from doing that on the way, just because it’s so well ingrained now. Perhaps this would eventually become something similar. ¯\_(ツ)_


I do this with so many things! I have a morning routine one made of emoji icons for things I often forget or fail to prioritize, including:
:balance_scale: for weighing myself,
:potable_water: for drinking some water and
:pill: for taking my vitamins (D, Omega 3, and B12).

Same rule as @dreev - I don’t let myself dismiss it until I’ve done them all. Works well. Once something feels routine, you can test dropping it off the list and see if you’ve formed the habit or still need the reminder.


Some problems:

  1. I’m trying to bind eating breakfast to pills, not to an alarm or beeminder or whatever – I may eat breakfast before an alarm goes off. I can see the value of keeping at it with “scaffolding” until it works, though…

  2. My waking times are a bit all over the place at the moment

  3. As class weirdo, I don’t use a smartphone, so I don’t have multiple alarms (maybe soon Purism– Librem 5 – here I feel the need to say that for me this is not primarily about security or privacy as usually understood, and I hope not purism either!)

Today I remembered posting this thread, so I did it :slight_smile:

I just put up a “don’t break the chain” post-it note so now I can give myself an instant fake-internet-points reward, sans internet. In fact now I’ve gone back, scribbled out the first tick, and did it again more emphatically

I will report back

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Sometimes getting to this point seems (relatively) easy, sometimes nothing seems to work. Seems to have been more the latter for this one for me

I suspect I’m forgetting how much time it takes me to establish habits even at the best of times though, I think faith it’ll stick eventually and keeping trying new things will help me

Edit: Hmm… remembering back to past morning habits – this a very obvious point but I think I need to get back to having a single morning routine – like I have a single beeminder habit that helps multiple goals. I think the very fact I’ve successfully ingrained some habits (e.g. weighing myself) has let me drop my rigid morning routine, and that is what I need again to anchor this new one to. Thanks!

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Missed it again today.

I think the problem is actually the habitual nature of making/eating breakfast. I can never quite believe that if I don’t do it immediately that I’ll forget. This morning I unclipped the pills from the cereal box, then was distracted by something for one minute, thought “ha this is the kind of thing that makes me forget, but THIS time of course I won’t do that”. Then I came back and ate breakfast sans pill without thinking about it.

So, more obvious advice to self: don’t do that, take the pills immediately that you’re reminded.

It’s distressing sometimes to understand exactly how stupid I am ;-/

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Nope, not stupid, @halfplane. Human.

And intelligent enough to observe, reflect and strive to change.

This could work very well - similar technique to the cell phone reminders. It’s visual and keeps it front-of mind. Whatever works for you! What matters is that you’re working on it.

It sounds like you’ve got the right idea:

It sounds like you’ve already gotten a habit of getting the pills out/putting them with your breakfast. That’s one win.

Next steps to automate:
2) don’t put down the pill bottle until you’ve gotten out the pill
3) don’t put the pill down until you’ve taken it. If it’s like the D vitamins I’ve taken, it’a likely chewable or tiny, but if you need water, keep it in your hand while you get the cup?

Each time you make one of those steps automatic, you’re one step closer to automating the habit itself. Give yourself credit for making progress toward your goal.

You’re probably onto something re: having a set morning schedule too. That might be easier said than done during these ‘unprecedented times’ &/or if you live with people who have needs that might interfere with taking care of your own needs, but if you keep at it, eventually you’ll get it (or realize some things weren’t the priority you thought they were and adjust). I say this as someone who is still working to establish their own regular morning schedule…

Since this is Beeminder, you could also follow the premise of derailing until the cost is high enough that you find a way :laughing: If it would cost me $1000 (or even $50!) you better believe I’d remember to take it! If you’re already doing that, then it looks like you found the cost that’s high enough to drive you to the community for support, so you’re probably getting close :crazy_face: The problem is, there’s only so much bandwidth one has and you’ll have to determine which ones mean the most to you and focus on them - keystone habits, critical success factors… the rest is noise. You decide what matters for you.


One day short of a (continuing) two-week streak!

I just went to 11 on everything I could think of to remind me, that and persistence does it in the end I guess.

I’m sure just getting exasperated and posting about it helped to keep it in my head more. Keeping in mind that eating seems to turn off everything except my lizard brain also helped.

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Yay! Well-done!! :partying_face:

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