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Write it down, or risk forgetting

Posted Mar 07 2011 12:00am

I read something really useful the other day over at Give Back LA the reminder that I absolutely need to write things down, or I run the very real risk of forgetting them.

I must admit, I have gotten away from doing this, over the past months. For some reason, I seem to think I can use other compensatory techniques to keep in mind what is important. And to some extent it works. But that’s a load of crap.

If I don’t write it down, I might as well wave good-bye, because there’s no guarantee that it’s coming back.

My memory, to be truthful, tends to be highly unreliable. As an example which keeps happening to me I have two sets of three digits of a conference call code that I need to key in, to join the conference call. I think I can remember both sets of three, but after punching in the first set of three digits, I’ll be danged if I can remember the second three. Sometimes I can remember 1 of the 3 digits. Sometimes 2 of the 3. But remembering all 3? It often doesn’t happen.

I think it will. I hope it will. I expect it to. But it doesn’t happen.

Anytime I start to think that all my issues are over and done with, I need only try to recall short sequences of numbers and/or letters (like library book numbers) for more than 15 seconds, and I’m reminded all over again that I have to keep up the effort to not have things fall apart. I need to keep up the effort to keep things in order in my life, from the bills that come in that need to get paid but don’t, when I put them in a pile with all my junk mail and the disappear from sight, and I forget all about them, till the late notices (and fees) start rolling in.  I  need to stay honest about what I can and cannot retain, and not over-estimate my capacity for stuff that stays in my head.

It’s all too easy for me to think, “Oh, that’s not a very large piece of information – I’ll surely remember it!” Then I find out that it might be small, but it’s all but disappeared from my memory. I’m lucky if I even remember that I’ve forgotten about it.

Fortunately, this problem is relatively easy to fix just write stuff down.

The problems start happening when I start writing EVERYTHING down, in such exquisite and exhaustive detail that I become overwhelmed by the amount of info that’s there. The more nervous I am, the more caught up I tend to get in details, so writing things down and being worried that I won’t remember them just makes things worse.

The best thing I can do is just trust the fact that I’m writing things down, and leave it at that.

If I forget a piece of it, oh well. It’s not like I don’t know how to do damage control on things I’ve completely forgotten.

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