Sieves

 

My wife remembers everything. Everything. She will frequently look up at me during breakfast and say something like, “I bought these earrings fourteen years ago today.”

Yeah, I think it’s weird too.

Most of us aren’t like that. Most of us have brains that function more like pasta sieves than steel traps. We can have conversations and forget what the person said five minutes before. Ideas drift into our minds like a fluffy cloud and then vanish the moment we see something distracting. No, most of us can barely retain ideas and thoughts and information.

But we all think we can, don’t we? We will be told something, and think, “I’ll take care of that tomorrow” but then do nothing about it. Of course, when tomorrow comes, we don’t recall the task. We always assume we are going to remember that item that needs created for a client, or the chore our spouse asked us to take care of. We assume that whatever we put into our heads today will be there tomorrow.

Here’s a better strategy for remembering things:

Don’t ask yourself, “Will I remember this later?”. The answer is always, “No”.

Instead, always ask, “Have I put pieces in place to remind me of this later?” This way, when you do forget in an hour or two, there will be a safety net waiting to keep the idea or task or deadline from being looked over and forgotten.

Never (never) “walk away” from a thought that needs future action without taking steps to ensure it gets done. For tasks, plug them into your tasks manager of choice (I use OmniFocus on my Mac, iPhone and iPad). Assign them a date and reminder before you forget that you need to do them. Trust me.

If you write, or plan, or create ideas for a living or hobby, you need to capture ideas. They don’t stick around. On my iPhone I use an app called Drafts to capture text instantly (read our review of the app here). Carry a notebook with you, or a stack of index cards in your back pocket.

There are even audio options available, if you don’t have hands free. The iPhone’s Siri feature makes it easy to “remind me to email logo files to Jennifer tomorrow”. Or find yourself a cheap digital voice recorder.

You know the frustration of forgetfulness. That’s you experiencing friction. So examine your past experiences and look for the biggest holes in your systems. Then plan out the right solution and put it into action.

Unless you happen to be my wife, I’ll bet good money that you are going to forget something. Don’t trust yourself to remember things. Build a frictionless system and run with it. Your freelance career, relationships and hobbies will all benefit from taking action.