What good have I done today?

I have a practice, one that I think is very effective in keeping me organized and on task. It may be annoying to my family, but for me it is a must have. It is the alarm setting on my phone. As many of you do, I set my alarm to wake every morning, much like an alarm clock used in the “olden days”. However, I also use my alarm to remind me to pick up prescriptions, return a phone call, send a birthday card or to pray for someone.

I recently read an article and the author spoke of a good friend who had passed away in an accident. She continued to say that shortly after he died his phone was returned to his parents. They discovered an alarm on it that asked, “Who did you help today?” The alarm went off every day.

Remember it was his phone and an alarm meant for his eyes only. A reminder for him to reflect on his day and how he was living and doing for others. I didn’t know this man. Perhaps he was someone who made an impact on many or someone just trying to do better. The reason doesn’t matter, the story made an impression on me.

I found it ironic that I already set my alarm for many reminders. After reading this article I set my 8:00 pm alarm on my phone to “Who did you help today?”

Often, I am busy when the 8:00 alarm goes off or I am charging my phone in another room. I love that my husband or one of my kids will silence it and yell out, “Julie/Mom, who did you help today?” It’s a tangible reminder to daily look past myself and think about others needs.

I shared my new-found ritual with a friend and imagine my surprise when she told me that she read Benjamin Franklin did the same thing. Of course, there were no cell phones or alarms back then. However, a man after my own heart, he scheduled a time of reflection. 

Benjamin Franklin’s Schedule

Benjamin was an author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, satirist, civic activist, statesman, diplomat and a list man. Let’s just say that Benjamin got a lot done in 24 hours, but he was successful because of his day-to-day schedule.This daily list indicates that Benjamin enjoyed life, but still got plenty of work done. The parts of his schedule that fascinated me most were the questions he asked at the start and end of every day: What good shall I do this day? What good have I done today?

I like the alarm in the evening so that I can reflect on my day. Sometimes it’s easy to answer the question, I’ve helped quite a few people. But truthfully, some days I am not sure if I did anything for anyone else? On those unsuccessful days, I go to sleep promising to do better tomorrow. After hearing about Benjamin Franklin, I am contemplating adding the morning question too.

Two men, both gone and ones we’ve never met. Yet their simple mission has stirred me and initiated my sharing with you. Maybe you will set a new alarm today?