How to Keep From Forgetting Things

Posted by Todd Smith

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When was the last time you forgot to do something that was expected of you?  How did it make you feel? Are you concerned about the impression you made?

Responsible people do what’s expected of them without being reminded.  How do they accomplish this? Do they have a great memory? Maybe, but they don’t rely on it. In today’s over-scheduled world, counting on your memory to remember your responsibilities is never a good strategy.

When you make the decision to take pride in doing what is expected of you and NEVER again need to be reminded of a responsibility, you’ll experience a greater sense of satisfaction and success. Here are some of the specific benefits you will enjoy:

  • You will become more respected because people know they can count on you.
  • People will enjoy working on your team because they know you will do what is expected of you.
  • Those who follow your leadership will learn from your example and their admiration for you will grow.
  • You will experience less stress because your focus won’t be on trying to remember nor will you find out at the last minute that you haven’t done something you were expected to do.
  • Your self-image will grow because you will be doing the things you know you should do without having to be reminded.
  • Your value to the market will soar because the market places a high value on those who are responsible.

Six Simple Strategies to Keep From Forgetting Things

Here are the strategies I have used over the years to keep from forgetting things.  These methods have been so effective for me that it is extremely rare for me to miss a deadline or fail to fulfill a responsibility.

1.  Write things down- There is no method more effective in remembering things than simply writing them down.  In my case, I work from a prioritized daily to-do list. This is a pad of paper I carry with me EVERYWHERE I go.

This pad of paper serves two purposes.  First, it is my prioritized daily action plan listing in priority sequence my responsibilities for the day. Second, it’s my “tool” for making notes.

If I think of something I need to do, I write it down on my to-do list.  If I have a phone conversation with someone and there is something I need to do, I write it down on my to-do list.  If I am in a meeting and I am assigned a responsibility, I write it down on my to-do list.

By writing everything I need to do on ONE pad of paper, I have all my responsibilities in one place, rather than scattered about on different sticky notes, folders, and miscellaneous pieces of paper.

2.  Do them immediately- Another great strategy to keep from forgetting things is to do them immediately. If I am working, my general rule is that anything I can do in less than two minutes I do immediately without pause or delay.  As an example, if my wife asks me to carry the laundry to the laundry room, I do it immediately, rather than putting it on my to-do list.

If I am not in work mode and my wife asks me to do a project that will take 10 minutes, then I get up and do it immediately without delay. She appreciates me getting it done instantly, and truthfully, just knocking it out and getting it done is better for me. Then I don’t need to add it to my to-do list and come back to it later.

3.  Send myself a reminder- This morning while having coffee with my wife, she gave me the date of my daughter’s upcoming recital. I didn’t have my to-do list handy, so I picked up my laptop sitting on the table and sent myself an email reminder.

4.  Set my alarm- If there is an important conference call I cannot afford to miss, I will set my cell phone alarm to remind me five minutes in advance of the call. This allows me to remain focused on my responsibilities without constantly having to look at the clock in anticipation of the call.

5.  Put something somewhere as a reminder- If I get in my car and realize I am almost out of gas I will do something to remind me to get gas.  I might put a sticky note (I always have a pad of stickies in my car) below the speedometer so every time I look at how fast I am going, I see the reminder note.  Or if I am going somewhere and don’t want to forget to bring something, I will put it by the front door with my car keys on top of it.

6.  Have the other party initiate the call- Here’s my rule for scheduling calls: if I request the call, I take responsibility for initiating it.  If someone asks me for a call, then I ask that person to initiate it. This ensures that I can focus on my work and not look at the clock every two minutes to make sure I don’t miss making the call.

These are just some of the strategies that have helped me over the years. Please share how you keep from forgetting things in the comments section below.

Remember, there is no distinction between being responsible in your personal and professional life.  You are either a person who takes pride in being responsible or you are not.

I want to challenge you to make the commitment that you will be responsible in EVERY part of your life and that from this day forward you will focus on becoming a person who fulfills your responsibilities without having to be reminded. Will you accept this challenge?

When you make the decision that you will take pride in being a person who always does what is expected of you, a new world of opportunities will open before your eyes.

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About the Author:

Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 43 years and founder of Little Things Matter. This blog contains over 200 of his timeless life lessons.

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