Remembering to take my medicine

This is a post about how I'm trying to remember to take my medications. Hopefully it'll give some ideas for folks on how to remember to do various tasks, or at the very least give some insight on how I attack a productivity problem.

I'm currently taking Losartan twice a day. When I started Losartan I only had to take it once a day. No big deal. I just put "Take my blood pressure medication" on my todotxt using the recur plugin. For things that happen once a day this was adequate and at least got me to where I could take it once a day. But because my blood pressure is still pretty high Dr. Jaiyesimi upped the dose to twice a day.

This has caused some issues.

At first I put reminders in my todotxt file like "Take my blood pressure medication (morning)" and "Take my blood pressure medication (afternoon)" but that meant that I would be looking at an "(afternoon)" task until later in the day. I also didn't have the reminder to let me know to take my pill so some days I'd forget. Worse still, some days I'd forget if I took my pill so I'd have to rack my brain to remember something as automatic as when I last took a pill.

Needless to say, this system fell apart pretty quickly.

I'm not one to rely on my phone for anything (I really, really do not care for my phone) but I decided to try a program called "Simpill". The main feature of it is that it allows you to add multiple reminders per day for a medication. It's baffling to me how many programs I found that only did one reminder per medication. I mean, good for you that once a day is enough, but that feels like a major oversight for a medication tracker.

Simpill will put up a notification to let you know to take your medication and can be configured several ways in how it reminds you. And it'll show when you took your pill.

Unfortunately, like I mentioned, I really hate using my phone and relying on it for anything. Even a GPL wasn't enough to sway me to use Simpill for more than a day. I consider that my own failing rather than a failing of the program itself. Seriously, it did what I needed it to do, so I can't ask any more from it. I just wanted something else.

I asked on Mastodon how folks managed their pills with some caveats. I didn't want to set up needless infrastructure for just one simple task so NextCloud / OwnCloud were right out, as were some of the other reminders that I found. I did find and article on Linux Journal for a program called remind which looked really promising but decided that might be overkill as well. Several folks suggested good solutions but in the end I decided on one of the truest and most effective ways of reminding myself.

Good ol' UNIX cron.

I created a script called which contains the following:


Please take your Losartan if you haven't already.

Remember to journal when you have.

With love."

echo "$MESSAGE" | /usr/bin/mail -e -s "Losartan Check-in" craig@localhost

The reminder to journal is a reminder for me to use jrnl, which is my journaling application. I haven't used that as much lately but have been using it for tracking when I use the restroom (unfortunately sometimes needs must, and this is a way for me to remind myself what my body's schedule is). I created a pill script and added the following:

jrnl Took pill $*

This can be used as a generic "what did you just put in your mouth" pill journal, so I can review the day of what I took. Most of my medications are anti-nausea or anti-diarrhea so they're all "as-needed". It's only the Losartan and Lonsurf that have specific times associated with them. The Lonsurf hasn't been much of an issue because it needs to be taken with food and I have a pill reminder to let me know. It's just the Losartan that has some difficulty.

I added the script to my crontab to email me at 8:00 and 17:00 each day. Now I'll have an email in my inbox to remind me. And if you know me and my inbox you'll know that is reminder enough.

Hope this gives some insight into my thought processes and how I solve problems and am productive. If you'd like me to elaborate more on my processes feel free to contact me and I'll be happy to expound more in a blog post.