One of the main reasons why I have always been interested in the subject of personal organization and productivity is my lack of memory. David Allen, author of the book “Getting Things Done” and creator of the GTD methodology always says that the mind is not designed to store commitments but to have ideas.
In my case, this statement is completely true, moreover, my head is certainly not designed to store anything. Since after 5 minutes I am able to forget anything. In my case then, a system to store all the information that surrounds me becomes an instrument of pure survival.
Tricks to Remember Everythings
When you know that your memory will betray you at any time, not even something like GTD is enough. That is why throughout my life I have tried to look for all kinds of tricks to remember things. Here are some examples:
Find visual alerts and place them in strategic sites that I will look at
This is one of the tricks I use most often because of the simplicity and effectiveness it has. It consists of detecting an issue that you must remember yes or yes and you have nowhere to write it down because it is not about remembering something complex or as a reference in case I need it. But about remembering something in a specific place or time.
For example, I must remember to take the food in the morning before leaving for the office. When you still do not have this habit, it is very common that in the early hours of the morning you do not walk too lucid to remember something like that. As I know that to go to the office I must go out of the door of the house, what I do is put something on the door that reminds me that I must take the food with me. It is difficult to put the Tupper directly, but I can easily place it in a bag or put for example an apple. Although my food is not just the apple when I see it in the door handle, I will immediately remember to take the food and make sure that I will not go out the door without it.
Another similar example would be having to remember to take a pill after breakfast. As we do not have that habit, it is easy to forget it. So I can make sure to remember it by simply placing the blister with the pills on top of the cookie package or whatever I have for breakfast. If you are as forgetful as I will be sure to take the pills to the breakfast table since I am able to get confused during breakfast and continue with the daily routine despite having seen them just before breakfast.
Use the Post-Its
A wild card when we still don’t have this ability to invent visual alerts is to use Post-Its. Post-Its are effective in any situation described above, take up little, do not get dirty and are affordable. For example, a Post-It on car keys will remind me that when I leave work I have to go buy cookies. When you don’t know what visual element to put, replace it with a Post-It.
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Displace Something to Make You Remember
There are situations in which you do not have visual elements at your fingertips or Post-Its. For example when you drive, in the bread line or while you are in the sink. In these cases, what we can do is relocate something that we know we will see shortly when we have the possibility to write it down or do it.
For example, if I drive and decide that the music MP3 is outdated and should be updated with new songs. I could remove the MP3 and put it in my pocket, which would prevent me from continuing to listen to music. I could take out a paper and pen and try to write it down with the danger that would be for my life and that of others, or better I could take something from the glove compartment. For example, an umbrella, and leave it in the passenger seat, if it can be pointing in the direction of the MP3. This way when I park, I will see the umbrella pointing to the MP3 and automatically remember to take it home and update it.
When it comes to more complex issues or that I cannot deal with at that time, we can also use this trick to at least write it down. For example, if I am in the bathroom and I need to remember to make an important call, what I will do is turn the phone case over. This way when I return to my job, I will soon realize it and remember that I should make the call.
Although it is not an infallible trick since in the course between which you relocate and you realize you can forget the matter. It does help and it is infinitely better than leaving it in the hands of only your memory.
One of the best tricks to not forget things is to avoid having to remember them. It seems silly but if you organize yourself better you will avoid many uncomfortable and recurring situations that only take time and energy.
Locate fixed sites for everyday things that are often lost. For example, if you continuously lose your keys, choose a fixed place for the keys at home and in the office, and make sure you leave it every day in that place. The same with the mobile. If your mail papers are overlapped, place in your home a place to deposit your mail until you process it and file it or throw it away. A very clear example is also the invoices for products that you buy and are still under warranty. Keep all current invoices in one place so that within a year you don’t have to remove half a house looking for it.
In the next post, I will continue explaining more tricks like these to get rid of our head of something that we know is not able to achieve effectively and rest assured that we do not forget anything important.