Do you forget things on a regular basis? I do not mean that you forgot your name or where you live. I am talking about forgetting to get your lunch out of the refrigerator to take it to work, missing a dental appointment, failing to call a friend on their birthday, and so on. Maybe you are missing important papers because you left them at home, you are paying your bills after they are due, or you are getting to places late because you were running around looking for something before you left.
Instances like the ones mentioned above are less about actual memory loss and more about what I call “everyday forgetfulness.” Everyday forgetfulness occurs when you remind yourself one or more times to remember something and then you still forget. If you have ever wasted time and energy trying to make up for whatever you forgot, this article will offer several simple solutions that might help you remember next time around.
Proposed SolutionsBeing well organized is a huge step toward being prepared for each day as it comes. I believe that the root cause of everyday forgetfulness is a disorganized or cluttered mind. It is safe to say that most of us have a lot going on and end up rushing from here to there with little time to stop and think. That being said, many people are making matters worse by overloading their brains and trying to remember too many things at one time. As a professional organizer, my advice is that you clear some mental clutter by using less brain power trying to remember the simpler things in life.
The first step is to create a system that helps you remember things each day. The old-fashioned way is to tie a string around one finger to serve as a reminder, but unless you want your hand to look like a crochet project you will need a better way to help you recall all of thoughts that are floating around inside your head.
Most advisors recommend that you organize your schedule by using a daily calendar for appointments, events and deadlines, as well as To-Do lists to keep your priorities in line. Craig Jarrow, author of “Time Management Ninja,” also encourages readers to set bills to auto-pay, do things when you first think about them, and ask others to help you remember.
I suggest you use any and all of these systems and then add a backup plan for the few most important things that you should not forget that day. One simple way to fight forgetfulness is to use thoughtfully placed visual cues that will remind you as soon as you see them.
Some examples include placing important items that you need to take with you next to your keys/purse/briefcase/book bag so that there is no way that you can drive away or lock the door without seeing them. You can also try placing the item in front of the door so that you would have to trip right over it to leave without picking it up.
For larger items, appointments, and other things that you need to remember, you can write a message on a sticky note and place it where you cannot miss it. A few places to try are the top of the alarm clock, on your cell phone, on the coffee machine, on the steering wheel, or on the mirror where you get ready in the morning.
You can also send yourself a text or e-mail message or leave a voice mail that you can hear later. When you want to remember to do something at a certain time set an alarm to ring a few minutes before you are supposed to begin the activity. I like to set a timer while the clothes are in the wash so that I can remember when to put them in the dryer.
The ResultsRegardless of what you use or where, remember that these cues will only work if they are out of the ordinary. Just as a message to your overloaded inbox does not help you, a pile of stuff by the door will not stand out as “must take” if the entire room is a mess.
The goal is to employ visual or auditory clues to make sure you do not forget. The faster and easier the reminder is, the better. All you have to do is determine which tactics catch your attention and repeat the process until it becomes a habit or system. You might even find that the act of setting up the reminder keeps you from forgetting at all. Try using these organizational tips to help free your mind of excessive mental clutter and simultaneously fight everyday forgetfulness.
Miami Springs resident Tatiana Knight is a professional organizer and member of NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers).