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How to Not Forget Things Easily with These 5 Simple Ways

How to Not Forget Things Easily with These 5 Simple Ways

I have a bad memory, and no it’s not a sign of aging; it has always been this way. Tell me something one minute, and unless I won the lottery or you are about to give me a free car, I am likely to forget it.

I was with my solicitor one day and he asked me for the date I got married. I sat for a minute and then took off my wedding ring to check inside for the date. He was dumbfounded; he said he had never before met a woman who didn’t know her wedding date.

Well, there is a first time for everything.

For this reason, it has been essential for me to come up with ways to remember–to remember dates, remember to do things, remember to pick up my kids from school or anything else that I may need to remember:

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1. Use a journal every day

The first thing I find useful is to always carry a journal. This allows me to jot down any thought I may have that needs to be captured.

Anytime I think of something I must do, it gets written into my journal, and when I get back to my desk, I check through my notebook and decide what needs to be done with my notes.

2. Mark down events on a calendar (and set reminders)

If any of the notes I made were reminders of something that I need to do on a particular day at a particular time, I enter it into my calendar.

I use my calendar daily. When I sit down each day in front of my PC, the first thing I open is my calendar. Each week, I schedule my whole week, and then each day, I reassess how realistic it is and what needs to get moved to another day.

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Any tasks that take longer than 15 minutes go into my calendar, and shorter tasks or tasks that don’t have to be done immediately go into my task list.

3. Use a task list

There are many programs out there that can be used to manage your tasks. I use Evernote, since it gives me a place to store everything. I create notebooks for each area of my life and for individual projects.

If I think of something that has to be done on a particular project, I create a note and put it into the correct notebook. So when I am ready to work on that project, all the thoughts and ideas are captured there in one place.

4. Do a mind download

In times of overwhelm or stress, or when I feel I’m not keeping up to date with my work and maybe I’m reacting to other people’s demands, I stop and do a mind download. I get everything out of my head. I write it either in my journal or on an electronic note.

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By doing this, you are ensuring that everything you need to do is captured and not forgotten about. It creates a sense of calm control and ensures that nothing has gotten away.

When everything is out of your head, start to add it into your system. Either it goes in your calendar or your task list so that when the time comes, you will get the work done, and you will never forget anything again.

5. Use different kinds of reminders

If you have a tendency to miss appointments and meetings, set up reminders for these events. Reminders can be set up on your calendar or in a program like Evernote.

You could even set an alarm on your phone if necessary with the name of the alarm being the task you need to be reminded of.

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Here’re more reminders ideas for you:

10 Apps That Help You Stay on Time and Remember Things

No more excuses for being forgetful

There are no excuses! Follow these five suggestions, and you’ll never forget anything again.

Use them individually and you will improve your ability to remember, but use all five and you will be a powerhouse of memory.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Ciara Conlon

Productivity coach, speaker, blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a Practical Guide to Getting Things Done

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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