I discovered my father’s mattress rotation schedule by accident twenty years ago.

I was moving furniture when I felt a piece of paper wedged between the mattress and the boxspring.

The single sheet included the date (June 30, 1999) and price ($878.74) along with a simple diagram for the position and dates the mattress had been adjusted.

It didn’t really need an explanation, but it certainly begged one.

I asked him what was going on.

Dad said that the mattress would last longer if it were rotated on a regular basis.

There are so many levels to that observation. You realize it’s a thing the Greatest Generation would do that we wouldn’t imagine. Also, you wonder how you didn’t know it was going on.

I asked him why the mattress was so special?

He looked at me like I was crazy. “I do it with everything,” he said.

We walked into the living room and dad pulled up the carpet. There, under the corner, was a single sheet of paper for the rug rotation schedule along with the date of purchase and price.

“Otherwise the part where people walk all the time will wear out.”

Everywhere it seemed, he had jotted down notes to remind him when he bought something, how much he paid and when it needed to be adjusted or updated.

The most surprising was the price of the trash can written in marker under the lid.

It was one of those moments when you realize there is so much more going on. That people won’t always volunteer the interesting stuff. That you should make an effort to look harder.

There are a lot of things I admire about my dad’s system and a few life lessons.

— He takes notes about big purchases, encouraging mindfulness

— He anticipates maintenance

— He leaves the notes where they will be found and used

— He aims for a schedule, but it’s a goal, not a strict requirement

(Part of a series based on recent conversations with my parents about life hacks.)