Do you miss deadlines, flake on dates, or forget to pick up produce at the grocery store? Admitting that we have a bad memory can be embarrassing, but nobody has as good of a memory as they’d like to think. Memories fade over time, and even if you have the world's best memory, thinking about ANYTHING else can distract you. Life gets in the way of your memory. You backup your computer, why not backup your memory?
Once we admit that we need help organizing thoughts and memories, we need strategies. Sometimes I make the mistake of writing context-free notes on random pages of spare notebooks, and then forget that I wrote them down! That totally defeats the purpose!
Post-it notes are a good strategy and were my go-to for to-do lists for a while. At the end of every day, I would think about all the tasks I needed to do in the next day, and write them all out with a check box next to them. When I woke up, I had a piece of paper keeping me in check.
It’s 2017 though, and analogue reminders may seem anachronistic. Most phones and computers have reminders and calendars, and most smart-phones allow you to dictate your reminders. The second I remember something I need to take care of, I ask Siri to remind me when I get home. She’s almost always on top of things.
Technology helps me, but what works best for me is keeping a notebook. About a year ago, I stumbled on a creative note taking method called Bullet Journal. You may have heard about it; I think I’m a little late on it myself. Bullet Journal is a customizable, pen and paper note taking system. Look at guides how to set one up to see if it’ll work for you. It uses multi-month calendars, single month calendars, and daily logs for organizing. In the daily log, you can use dots, slashes, arrows, and asterisks to differentiate between daily tasks and notes. The philosophy of Bullet Journal also utilizes "rapid logging," so training your brain to offload ideas to the book is part of the process. It combines the best parts of post-it note to-do lists, immediate Siri reminders, and a notebook for ideas in a very organized package.
Bullet Journal’s focus on immediacy is important too. We get and lose ideas all the time! Bullet Journal’s rapid logging philosophy says that if you spend 1 second writing down the note, it’s there, and you don’t have to ever worry about forgetting it. They also point out that traditional journaling can be exhausting, since writing entire sentences takes a long time and might feel like a chore.
I’ve been using rapid logging outside of Bullet Journal, too. In the last week, every new project, starts by creating a Google Doc and writing headlines for each process, task, question, or topic I want to explore. The headlines narrow my focus to one part of my much larger project, and in the end I’m left with a complete and very organized guiding document.
Make the most of memory! It’s tempting to want to trust that we’ll always remember all your thoughts, but when you write it down, you bring a physical copy of your memories into the real world. Find a system that works for you, but allow past-you help present-you achieve your goals!
How do you remember where your keys are? Do you use Post-It Notes, Siri, or a Bullet Journal? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter! We’d love to hear creative new memory systems!