Setup a recurring reminder to stretch and correct your posture

Does your body naturally slouch into a croissant? Is your back a sinewy mess of knots? Do you complain to your significant other that your back hurts and actually it's a bit annoying at this point because you haven't done anything about it?

Having an occasional stretch and correcting your posture can help prevent back pain, stop your posture from deteriorating, and prevent friction in your relationship. (This advice makes sense and can be found everywhere.) If you're like me, this knowledge alone is not enough to actually enact it — you need reminders.

If you think you'd benefit from such stretching but you never remember to do it, here's how to setup recurring reminders to stretch and correct your posture.

The same instructions can be applied to other reminders, like to unclench your jaw, or give yourself a pat on the head — whatever suits your needs.

How to setup a recurring reminder to stretch and correct your posture on MacOS

Setting up recurring reminder on MacOS is strangely difficult, but doable. It requires setting up a shortcut in the built-in Shortcuts app, and then using Terminal to set up a cron job. Here's how you do it:

  1. Open the Shortcuts app.
  2. Select File then click New Shortcut.
  3. In the Search for apps and actions input search for "notification".
  4. Double-click Show Notification. This will add the action to your shortcut.
  5. Click Hello World to change the notification text to something relevant to your needs like "Stretch", "Sit up straight", or "Exhale".
  6. Rename the shortcut something relevant as well. You can do this by clicking the name of the shortcut at the top of the window. Now we're going to set it up so the shortcut runs periodically.
  7. Open Terminal. We're going to use crontab, a utility that lets us set up recurring commands.
  8. Type EDITOR=nano crontab -e into your terminal and press Enter. This will open up a text editor in the terminal for editing the cron table — a list of recurring commands to run a scheduled times. It will most likely be empty.
  9. Type */30 * * * * shortcuts run "Stretch" > /dev/null. This command will run the shortcut named "Stretch" every 30 minutes. Replace "Stretch" with whatever you named your shortcut. /dev/null prevents you from getting an annoying message in the terminal every time the shortcut runs.
  10. Press control + X to exit the text editor.
  11. You'll be prompted to save the file — press Y to save it, then press Enter.

You can do all kinds of things with shortcuts implemented this way. For instance, you can make sure the shortcut only runs in a certain Focus mode, or play the sound of an ominous voice reminding you that life is fleeting and death can take you at any moment.