Memory hacks: Make forgetting a thing of the past

August 12, 2014

How many times have you opened Google on your smartphone, only to find you've totally forgotten what it was you wanted to search for? It's the modern equivalent of going into a room for something essential but having no idea what the essential thing was by the time you get there.

It's no wonder so many of us have this experience. There is simply so much more to remember now than there ever was.

You must remember all your essential things to do, plus remember which app you've used to list them all. Also you struggle not to forget your exercise regime plus whatever supplements or special dietary requirements you have this week.

Then don't forget to keep in touch with your friends - which is only possible, of course, if you remember which social network you "meet" them on.

By the time you've remember your manners, your glasses and your anniversary, plus your latest password and to read the latest blog post by your new best friend, you've probably forgotten the thing you first set out to remember.

Here are some ways to reduce the frustration of forgetting things in a modern world:

Write things down. Of course there's an app for that - dozens in fact. But the back of an envelope will do too. Going through the process of jotting the things down is half the battle to remembering what they were.

Take a virtual walk. It's an old technique, but it still works. Imagine a familiar route, such as from your house to the bus stop, only populate it with the things you need to remember - the phone charger by the door handle, your mother (she needs a birthday call) at the gate and the dentist (time for a check-up) next to the newsagent.

Perfect your passwords. There are two ways of doing this, either use one of the services that hold all your passwords, such as Lastpass or 1password (excellent until you forget your master password) or invent a system that generates impregnable passwords that you can remember, for example, a root password based on an abbreviation with numbers plus an encoding of the name of the website.

Your phone is your friend. You can use your phone as your aide memoir by setting reminder alarms and alerts, plus texting or emailing yourself things you mustn't forget.

And finally…

Allow yourself to forget. That's right. Acknowledge that you will forget and prepare for it. So know you'll forget your keys, but have a spare stashed somewhere safe. Understand you'll forget important dates, so set up a reminder service to ping you with enough notice to prepare the necessarily thoughtful gifts. Accept you'll forget the vital documents or presentations for your essential meeting, instead download our OfficeWrx app and link it to your Google Docs account (where you put everything you need as a matter of course). That way you'll have what you need, whenever you need it.

Pic by ganeshaisis via flickr.

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