Do you recall being told to tie a piece of string around your finger to help you remember something, but then forgetting why you had a piece of string around your finger? The older I have gotten the more I seem to be forgetting. I used to pride myself on being able to remember small details from events that happened in the past. Now I’m lucky if I can remember what it was I wanted to put on the grocery list or why I sat down at the computer.
So what is the simple secret to combating forgetfulness? I’m sure you already know it. It’s writing things down and making routines.
Here are some things that we should have around our house to help us as we age and tend to forget things more often. These things will also help us be more relaxed and we won’t be stressing about not remembering. I know if I have forgotten something, it is because I didn’t follow my advice!
First, make sure you have these 5 tools.
1. Calendar: Having a calendar that you refer to and write down (or type in) all of your and your family’s appointments and activities. Most electronic calendars will have a built-in alarm to remind you before your scheduled activity. Use it. Also, it is helpful to review your calendar each night before you go to bed.
2. Alarms/Timers: Not only should you use an alarm to remind you of scheduled activities, but use a timer for things like chores. I start the laundry and because it is in my garage I don’t hear the timer (if it even has one) when it is ready to be changed. So I set a timer in the house to remind me to go change it as I get so busy with other distractions that a whole day could go by and I forget that it is going. Last month I discovered the timer on the washing machine was broken and because I had forgotten to go change the laundry to the dryer, it was washing my clothes for 6 hours straight. What an electric bill! I also use a timer when it is important that I get out the door at a certain time to make it to activities. I set it for 10 minutes before I need to leave so I can get my shoes on, use the bathroom, turn off the computer, get the kids ready, and then be on the road at the correct time so we aren’t late. Timers are a very useful thing.
3. Notebook and pen next to the bed: Ever go to bed and can’t get to sleep because you have too many things going through your head? Or you are just falling asleep when you suddenly realize you have to do something the next day that you had forgotten about and now you can’t sleep because you are worried you will forget it again? Solving this problem is as easy as putting a notebook and pencil next to your bed. When you find you have too many thoughts going through your head, write them down. They will then be there in the morning and you can stop worrying and relax and rest. Plus an added bonus is that sometimes when we relax and are just about to fall asleep we can get the best ideas on how to do something or how to solve a problem. When you do, write them down in your little notebook and then go back to sleep.
4. Grocery List: As I said above, I need to create an area where I have a grocery list that I can easily add to while I’m in the kitchen. It is as simple as a magnet holding a piece of paper on the fridge titled, Grocery List. Then you or anyone in the family can add to it at any time. If you don’t want to put it on the fridge, then try the inside of a cupboard door. I’ve bought some chalkboard wallpaper to put on the inside of my larger cupboard door where I can put a grocery list.
5. To Do List: My day is usually a waste if I don’t have a TO DO List. I’m lost without some direction as to what are the things that need to be done, and the motiviation of seeing items crossed off of it. Kids love TO DO Lists also and it is a great habit to get them into now while they are young. With four kids at my house and all the distraction that comes with it, I am bound to forget to do something if it is not written down. May I suggest though that you only put PRIORITY items on the list. We could have lists miles long if we wrote down all the things we wanted to get accomplished, but if you do, then you will most likely feel depressed at the end of the day when you have only crossed off a few items. So stick to just the things that really have to be done and maybe add only one or two that aren’t completely neccessary. Don’t forget to also schedule some “down time” for yourself. Forgetfulness can come from burnout if we don’t take care of ourselves and are frazzled.
Now that you have these tools, be committed to using them. Make it a habit to use your calendar, alarms, timers, notebook, grocery list, and TO DO List. If you find the grocery list is in the wrong place as you never open that cupboard, then move it to a more visible place. Put a sign above your washer/dryer that says to use the timer and have the timer handy. Put it in your pocket if you can’t hear it. Write the TO DO List before you go to bed or on Sunday night for the week, leaving room to add items as they come up and of course consult your calendar to make it. Having routines will help you not forget.
Lastly, taking care of your body is very important. We aren’t getting any younger and so we need to take care of what we have. Sleep, proper nutrition, and exercise will help us be alert and energized. It is hard for our body to function properly if it doesn’t have fuel to run on or if it is too tired to stay awake and therefore think about what we should be doing. If you think you need to see a doctor and have been forgetting about making that appointment, write it down now on a TO DO List and then do it and cross it off. Get recommitted to making some small changes to boost your health. Once you accomplish those, work on others as needed.
So what is the simple secret to combating forgetfulness? Don’t tell me you forgot already. Write it down and make routines.
I’d love to hear if you have any tips! Please comment below.