Our brains need support.
They are fantastic at thinking up new ideas but not so great at holding on to all of them in our working memory (the more active version of short-term memory). Working memory relates to the information we can pay attention to and manipulate at one time. In fact, researchers put the limit at three or four items.
I’ve spoken about the need for brain extensions previously. Emptying our brains of all the things we have to do, want to do, and might do in the future gives them the helping hand it needs to do its job well. Essentially a brain extension is a way of boosting that working memory limit.
Tips and tricks
Here are a few of my favourite brain extensions and supports:
- My Google Calendar for immediate and short-term tasks
- OneNote for long-term ideas, projects, and reference information
- Visual reminders: eg: I’ll put library books by the door to remember that I need to return them
- Use the timer on my phone for when I need to return to work or when to start preparing for a meeting
- I make a fist and pop fingers out when listening to someone to remember a point I’d like to circle back on so I don’t become consumed with remembering that point and stop listening
- A PostIt pad near my bed and near the shower for random ideas
- A PostIt pad near the fridge to capture my shopping list
Other reminders that might work for you:
- Repeat things that you need to remember over and over – auditory memory is often better than visual or thinking only
- Store things in clear containers so you can easily find things and know when to restock
- Use certain habits or moments in your day as triggers e.g: put medication next to your toothbrush
- Use voice activation for putting reminders in your calendar
- Ask people with good organising skills to prompt you to remember all sorts of things or pay someone to help you set up good systems (wink wink)
Review and assess
Reminders are a way of being kind to your future self. Take a moment now to review the systems you have in place. Are you in need of refining them or enlisting the help of a few more?