Monday, April 25, 2011

Don't Forget to Remember

Having trouble storing, retaining and
recalling information?

Recently I was complimented for having a good memory for things. How nice.

I was elated but I hate to say that the contrary is unfortunately the truth. We often lament that we wish to have a photographic memory. The thing is our brain does not work like that in a normal way.

Our brain is useful only if it is made to recall useful stuff. People with good memory are probably those who have mastered many different memory techniques. They do not have photographic memory as perceived by their admirers.

A small minority of people may have been found to have good photographic memory. I am not sure if this is to be seen as a gift or burden. Some of these 'blessed' people are with Asperger's syndrome (a form of autism). A very well-known instance is the case of Stephen Wiltshire, also dubbed the 'human camera'. Watch video.

Forgetfulness can be overcome. [Pic]

Imagine having a photographic memory and taking in every single detail you see, hear, smell, taste and touch. Your brain will be storing lots of data but mostly irrelevant ones. Each time you attempt to 'retrieve' some data, your brain may just work like a laggy harddisk.

We live in an information age and we are constantly swamped with things we neither want nor need. Changes today are moving at breakneck speed and if you are burdened with too much irrelevant information, you tend to get confused. When you are confused, you might just forget things.

People get upset when you say "I forgot". [Pic]

Nowadays, people are getting more impatient and less forgiving whenever we say "I forgot". You cannot afford not to know how to manage information. The main point here is not to have a powerful photographic memory. Rather, you want to develop memory techniques and learn to use tools to prevent missing out things.

A clear mind is helpful in remembering things when needed to. For that, you would need to discard or ignore irrelevant information and organize relevant information.

Memory Techniques

There are loads of web information which promise to improve your memory techniques. I have not tried all and I do not know enough to promote any. I have included some useful articles at the end of this post. They can give you some ideas.

Sometimes a simple written note is all you need. [Pic]

Useful (and simple) Tools

Over the years, I have been finding ways to overcome my inadequacy. I am still working on it to cope with the ever-increasing demand. I have come to realize that the solutions are usually simple and affordable.

Here is a list of what I might do to keep things in check. What I do depends on the 'tools' I have and the place I am in. Not everything listed here works for you. You would have to devise you own suite of 'remind me' tools and ways to prevent missing out things:

10. Write on paper

Pen and paper may be archaic but this method continues to be useful in this gadget-blasted era. When you scribble your thoughts, your brain recaps what needs to be done. After that, you remember through visual reminders. Post-It knows this well.

Make full use of your gadgets to help you remember. [Pic]

9. Use a calendar

I dump future events in my calendar as soon as I am notified. That frees me up and I will not have to think about it until closer to the event. I use an e-Calendar but there is nothing wrong using a tactile one.

8. Leave a note in mobile phone

If my mobile phone is with me, I key in a short note. Reminder features are quite basic and you need not invest in a smartphone just to do this. When I am driving, I may use voice memo instead.

7. Leave a voice mail

When I am not at my work place, I call my office line to leave a voice mail. I can conveniently pick up the message when I get back in office. This works well for the very first thing I need to attend to on Monday mornings.

Don't let forgetfulness stress you out. [Pic]

6. Send an email

I send emails to my office mailbox from my private email account. This is useful when I want to extract some web information or links to be worked on later.

5. Create an email reminder

I create email reminders with alarm. When it is time to get something done, I receive an email telling me what I should be doing. Neat.

4. Get a human reminder

This is not necessarily very fool-proof but it can be supplementary. Simply tell someone (reliable) to remind you when it is time to do something.

Having a photographic memory only means
taking in loads of irrelevant details. [Pic]

3. Tell someone

Telling someone what you have to do is a way to commit things to memory. It takes effort to organize your thoughts before you share. After telling, your brain gets a more organized set of information.

2. Plaster a giant note

This sounds desperate but I do it occasionally. Pasting a big note on the door helps me to remember what I need to do before leaving the office or home. You can use door hanger note too.

1. Create a draft post

I blog regularly on a wide range of topics. When an idea hits me, I draft it immediately. I may build it up as new ideas flow in.

Memory techniques are both
art and science.

Having said all these, if you find yourself forgetting things at a worrying rate, you might want to seek expert opinions.

Useful articles:

"Memory is what tells a man that his wife's birthday was yesterday." ~Mario Rocco~

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