remember things

How To Take The Headache Out Of Remembering Things

Posted on Posted in Productivity

If you’ve ever struggled with remembering things, like a brilliant idea you’ve had or a promise you made, this simple trick will help you remember things and keep your promises.

The problem with ideas is they are fleeting.The distraction of someone or something else robs us of the original idea or solution. The problem with promises is we sometimes forget we made them. We intend to follow-through on our ideas and promises but life gets in the way. The result? Forgotten ideas and broken promises that hurt people. Not ideal.

If this has happened to you before, you know the pain of losing that brilliant idea. And you hate the feeling of forgetting to show up for lunch with your friend.

Overcoming pitfalls like these as an absent-minded and forgetful person like me can be a challenge. Fortunately, there is a simple solution and you will, like me, slap yourself on the forehead when you read it.

Don’t Trust Yourself to Remember Things

Here’s the main thing. When your brilliant idea or your solution to a problem comes to mind but you can’t do anything with it, don’t trust yourself. Distractions will prevent you from remembering as will the stresses of life.

In fact, for this article, I should have taken my own advice. I remembered and forgot the topic three times! Until I did the most important thing…

Slow Down and Write Down

Here’s the secret, I slowed down, actually, I stopped and wrote down the article topic onto my to-do list. That’s it. Nothing mind blowing here. But it can be life changing if you honor the process. With all the stimuli in our lives, slowing down or stopping to write down the ideas we have can make a huge difference. So where do you record these ideas if you can’t keep them in your head?

Keep A Notepad or Phone With You for Your Ideas

The simple solution to the question above is have something to record your thoughts. I hate it when the obvious bites me in the a$$, but this one did. Nowadays, almost everyone has a smartphone in their pocket that they can talk to if they don’t want to take the time to write down their idea. Duh. For the smarter ones reading this, I’m sorry to have to point out the obvious.

If you don’t do the phone thing or if you use pen and paper for most of your organization, just make sure to have a small notebook that you carry around.

From Written Down to Action

Here is where things get more difficult. Now that you’ve recorded your idea, it’s time to take action. One great way to do this is through a methodology called Getting Things Done. See the graphic below for a simple sketch of the methodology. One of the GTD ideas to highlight is what I call the two-minute drill. Basically, if you can accomplish the task in two minutes or less, do it right then and there. The two-minute drill is very effective. If you want to learn more read this article I wrote on being productive. The method illustrated below works wonders for anything more complicated than a simple two-minute or less task.

Take the idea of capturing your ideas and promises to the next level by doing a Mind Dump.

Final Thoughts, Before I Forget

None of us can remember everything we need to do or say we will do. Nor can we remember all the ideas and solutions that run through our minds. To overcome this reality, a simple exercise of writing down or recording any task, idea, or solution that comes to mind will save so much frustration and conflict.

Make sure to carry something with you to record these ideas and where possible, use the two-minute drill to tackle your ideas.

How do you record your ideas and promises?

  • Don’t let the simplicity stop you from trying this method. It has done wonders for me!