Ever stared at a white sheet of paper knowing that you want to write something, and yet not quite sure what to write? Have you ever gone out to get one item, and returned home with everything except the one item you absolutely needed? Have you ever missed an important meeting, not because you did not want to go rather because you got tied up into any other things? These things do happen.
Why? Why, is an easy answer. We are human, and all humans have frailties. Mix that with a hectic lifestyle which many of us have and the danger of overlooking a need or desire becomes more prevalent. And yet, there is a multitude of possible cures and antidotes to improve the chances of completing what we really wanted to get done in the first place.
The biggest intervention we can use is our attitude. When things like this happen, we don’t want to go berserk or fly off the handle or get mad at ourselves. And at the same time, we don’t want to adopt an attitude of “Oh well,….” We need to find an approach that works for us, and no, not all approaches will work equally well for all people.
Each of us should find what works best for us. Many use a calendar and a to-do list. This works great for those who keep the list in the calendar up to date and in a small enough package to always have it handy. The smartphone works very well for this. The problem though is that we often fail to put things on our calendar or on our to-do list because in the back of our mind we believe they are too big to forget.
Others will write a sticky note at work and stick it to their ID badge, so they don’t forget. This works great until the note becomes unstuck and falls to the floor while walking down the hall. At that point, the note is no longer there to remind them. Four interruptions and one ad hoc meeting down the line, the person, may have completely forgotten about that important ‘whatever it was.’
Some managers will write themselves an email to remind them of what’s going on or why they did something in particular. If they don’t have a good system of filing their email, and if like most managers they get about 300 emails a day, it is easy for the facts to get lost in the electronic pile.
Does this mean that we’re hopeless, that we cannot overcome forgetfulness? We’re people, and people can overcome anything. In the last 5000 years how many things have threatened us, endangered us, tried to wipe us out? And yet, here we still are. To overcome this, we only need one thing. Habit.
We all have habits. Washing the car on a Saturday morning is a good habit. Playing games on the computer because I am bored and want to do something is a bad habit. We need to find habits that work for us, and we need to stick to them.
Can I tell you exactly which habits in which variations will work best for you? I am sorry I cannot. For most people reading this, we’ve never even really met face-to-face. What I can tell you is one habit I believe will work for you. As you are developing habits, try many things, drop those that don’t work, and keep those that do.
The other thing I could mention, cut back on electronic game playing. It’s always the frustrating ones that eat most of your time.