Between meetings, to-do lists, preparing supper, shopping and driving the kids, how do you remember all you have to do? David Allen says that your brain is not the most efficient memory tool and it will only trust systems that it knows works. Good memory recall is as simple as finding those things that will jog your brain at the time it needs to remember.
Here are 10 easy tricks to jog your memory:
- Write it down - My number one favourite trick: carry a notebook, have good lists, etc. I carry a small 2 X 4 inch notepad and a Pilot G-2 Mini pen in my wallet. That way, no matter where I am, I can write a quick note to process later.
- Record it - Use a dictation machine or MP3 recorder to grab your thoughts. When you’re behind the wheel of the car, writing a note would not be safe, let alone convenient. A hand-held recorder lets you record things as they occur to you. When you get home, or back to the office, you can transcribe the recorded notes into your tracking system.
- Call yourself - If you’re at the office and want a reminder when you get home, call your home phone and leave a message. Also, as a variation on trick number two, you could also leave recorded messages via cell phone if you didn’t have a hand-held recorder.
- Send yourself an e-mail - This trick can work a couple of ways. You can use it in much the same way as calling yourself. I will often send a quick e-mail from home to work as a reminder of something I can only do from the office or during work hours. As well, most calendar software or services can send a reminder of a scheduled event via e-mail. When you enter calendar data, use the settings that send an e-mail reminder.
- Use sticky notes - My wife’s favourite is the sticky note. She keeps them everywhere. She writes her errand list on a note and sticks it to the dashboard of the car as a reminder. Bathroom mirrors, fridge doors, outside doors and briefcases are all fair game for one of her sticky reminders.
- Have a place, place for things - Those things that need “regular” remembering -car keys, wallet, glasses, cell phone, etc.- are easy to recall if they are in the same place every time. Hang your keys by the door. Take them from the hook as you leave and hang them up as soon as you return. Dresser tops, purses, briefcases, hooks are all good places to keep those things you need frequently.
- Set timers and alarms - Use audible reminders for short-term recall. They’re not just for baking. If you have to call someone back in a half hour, set an alarm on you computer or cell phone to jog your memory in 30 minutes. If you have 30 minutes to enjoy a coffee before leaving the house for a concert, set the alarm to remind you.
- Self-motivate - Instead of saying, “I’ll probably forget.” Tell yourself that you’re going to remember. A positive mental approach goes a long way to stimulating your mind.
- Visualize - Some personal development involves a bigger sort of reminder. If you’re trying to lose 20 pounds, you need to “remember” your goal and the process. Stick a picture of a skinny person on the fridge. Write your desired weight and target date on the picture. That will help you to remember to ignore the ice cream and eat some fruit instead.
- Keep Healthy - Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, that you are exercising and eating balance meals. All of these things contribute to keeping your memory working well.
The first five tricks are concrete tools to which you can refer to help recall. The second five are more mental in nature, stimulating your brain to make its best effort. Together, these tricks should keep you from forgetting, not only the urgent things that can control your thoughts and time, but the important things that will improve your life.