Set It...And Forget It!
In the 1970’s, Ron Popeil made a fortune with products like the Veg-O-Matic, Mister Microphone, and the Ronco Pocket Fisherman. You knew a Ronco commercial when you heard the iconic “But wait…there’s more!!!” One of the products Ron Popeil sold was the Showtime Rotisserie and BBQ, that featured the magic phrase “Set It…And Forget It.”
One of my hypnosis mentors, Jason Linett reminded me of the phrase “Set It…And Forget It” in one of the many workshops I took from him when I was first getting into hypnosis. I'm thinking about him, because he interviewed me a few weeks ago for his WorkSmart pod cast, and my episode will be airing March 25th, 2021 so stay tuned! He stressed the importance of setting up systems to “run” your business without having to do every step over and over. I have kept those words in my mind and used them for inspiration to find many other time saving measures over the years. Repetitive, time consuming tasks takes precious time away from doing the things I love.
One of the most awful, repetitive things I have to do is pay bills. I hate paying bills. I find paying bills to be mentally (and depending on the bill) emotionally disruptive. If I’m paying bills, that means I have to stop doing what I love (which is making hypnosis and ha ha) and navigate an infuriating channel of websites, forgotten user names and passwords, clicking through 8 screens to re-verify my password, create a new password, and answer stupid security questions that means remembering whatever my favorite food was on January 29, 1973. Paying a $45 credit card can easily become 45 minutes of frustrating impersonal futility with an electronic device that I already spend too much time in front of each day. And then I remember “Set It…And Forget It.” How can I do that with my bills?
Well Traci, there’s Automatic Bill Pay! Which is the 2021 equivalent of “It slices, it dices, it juliennes!!!” I’ve set up automatic bill pay with every bill I can possibly automatically pay and it’s saved me hours of time. Unfortunately, setting up automatic bill bay can take minutes up to a month to set up, but once you’re done, you’re done!
I’ve even set up all of my credit cards to pay the minimum amount owed on the date due so if time gets away from me and I forget to send a partial or full payment, at least the credit card companies get their minimum payment and I avoid the $39 late fee.
In this day of common place credit card fraud, I’ve even set up a system to make sure I review and reconcile my statements. I use a task, day planner, and goal management program called Opus One. If you’re familiar with the Franklin Covey or Getting Things Done, it’s pretty close to being the electronic version of those systems. Things or OmniFocus are great task organizer programs too. All of these come with free trials, so find the best one for you.
In Opus One, I treat each credit card statement as a monthly task and then repeat them annually. For instance: 1) Visa payment due on March 15th (repeated annually), A1 Priority. Visa payment due on April 15th (repeated annually), A1 Priority. I then put each of these in my planner starting 5-7 days prior to the due date, so I have plenty of time to take care of it these statements in the event it’s a busy week or there’s a weekend involved. It appears in my task list every month and stays there until it’s checked off as completed. If that credit card statement doesn’t arrive in the mail or my email reminder goes straight to spam, I still have a way to remember that bill is due.
But wait…there’s more!
I have the mundane tasks that I have to do every week, every month, every 3 months, every 2 months, or every year. All of those things go into my task management program too. Home maintenance, like changing the air filters or making sure the recycling goes out to the curb all pop up in my schedule now. I have a reminder to send this newsletter every week, so I know to get it done. With all the things rolling around in my brain at any given moment, I even had to add change the cat litter and take out the garbage on Mondays and Thursdays. This method works much better than my old method of waiting until I hear someone say “What’s that smell?” I even took this a step farther, and scheduled a monthly task called “creative time.” Yes - I had to remind myself to be creative. I really love what I do and when I get wrapped up in a project, other things get left behind. Before I know it, I haven’t had a date night with Doug in a month, I haven’t played piano in 6 months, and I haven’t sewed or made a piece of jewelry in 8 years. If I forget to spend time with my loved ones…that means all those other life goals and bucket list items don’t even have a chance.
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Here are a few easy steps to set up your tasks and bills so you too can “Set It, And Forget It.”
Set aside 1-2 hours of time.
Download the spreadsheet below to get you started. You can also use a book, with a page for each account.
Fill in the blanks with all of the bills and tasks that need your attention.
Make sure you include weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly bills and tasks.
Keep the spreadsheet handy, as you’ll probably get reminders over the next year and need to make adjustments.
The spreadsheet can also serve as a way for you to get to the websites that don’t have an automatic payment option quickly and easily. Here's the link to my sample spreadsheet.
This list is also nice to have for someone who may need to access your accounts should you become ill or incapacitated. When my mother became ill, she had a book of all her accounts and passwords so it was easy to step in and pay her bills when I needed to. It’s also a handy reference for those unfortunate moments when you’ve been subject to credit card fraud, and don’t want to have your services disrupted because your account number has changed.
Find a task management program, and add each of these into your To-Do list. Here are the links for Opus One, Things, and OmniFocus, which are more industrial strength task managers. There are numerous task management options available for your desktop, smartphone, iPad, and tablet. Each one is a little different so be bold and find the right task manager for you.
Might I suggest adding a reminder to review your Task/Bill Spreadsheet on January 1st, April 1st, July 1st, and October 1st? Of all the things you want to set and forget, this important list is not one of them!
Feeling empowered? Next, feel free to prioritize your bills so you can best utilize your time. I use the A, B, C system built-in with Opus One.
A - MUST GET DONE TODAY. These tasks are urgent and time sensitive.
B - Tasks are essential, but not urgent.
C - Tasks are not urgent and not essential.
The biggest thing to remember is that your task list is always a work in progress. Always be on the look out for ways to "Set It…And Forget It," so you can focus your precious time on doing what makes you happy instead of doing those things that make you feel crappy!
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