Don’t try to remember it

Someone once told me “the faintest pencil is better than the strongest memory.” I didn’t take him as serious as I should have back then. Not until the day I forgot to turn in a report on time because my memory convinced me the report was due the next day.

Our memories are unreliable. Our brains are designed so we forget most of the information we are exposed to within a short period of time. This is a good thing because frankly speaking most of the information we are exposed to is useless. You don’t need to remember how many people you drove past on your way to work this morning or the colour of each individual tile you stepped across today. Unless there is a good reason for remembering something eg your livelihood depends on it, you will probably forget it after a few hours.

Forgot something?
You probably didn’t write it down

This nature of our brain, despite normally being a good thing, can be a problem when it comes to scheduling tasks. You can’t rely on your brain to remember the exact date a task is due or keep important information you have heard ready for you to recall when needed. A friend once told me a story about her aunt, a caterer, who delivered food for a wedding on the wrong day. If you don’t want to make that kind of mistake, you need to get into the habit of writing things down.

Fortunately, your mobile phone provides a lot of tools to help you “write” things down:

  1. If it’s a task you need to do, make sure it’s on your to-do list.
  2. If it’s one you’d like to start on a future date, set up a reminder.
  3. If it’s an upcoming event that you have to be part of, make sure it’s captured on your calendar.
  4. If it’s information you need to make regular reference to, put it on a clearly labelled note.
A notepad
Physical or digital, make a note

This takes the burden of remembering off your brain and allows you to focus on the important tasks for the day. I may not always remember what I need to do today but I can always remember to reach for my to-do list knowing it has relevant information on what I need to do today. I rely on my calendar to remind me I have to attend an online meeting today. Put it down somewhere before you deliver the food on the wrong date. If you have ever watched the movie The ten Commandments, you will remember this quote: “So let it be written, so let it be done.”

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