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Memory tip: Two ways socks help you remember things

[For the next week or so I'll be posting the techniques I use to help me remember things. I'll be covering topics like memorizing short lists, oddball things, and names.]

I prefer to write something down so that I don't forget it, but sometimes I forget the list!

For example, I often have an idea right as I'm falling asleep. I keep a pad of paper by my bed just for this reason. However the next day I forget to look at the list.

Therefore I need a way to remind myself to look at the list. All I need is for something to be "out of place" in the morning and that will jog my memory.

One thing I do is throw the pad of paper onto the floor instead of putting it back on my nightstand. Now when I wake up it is out of place, I see it, and I know to look at the pad.

Someone once told me that they do something similar. They reach down to the floor, pick up a sock, and drape it over their alarm-clock! Next time someone complains about leaving dirty socks on the floor you have a new excuse!

When I plan a trip I keep two lists. One is my "packing list". Things that I need to bring. I maintain that list in my PDA or PAA so that it is always with me. I might be at home, work or elsewhere when I think, "Oh! That conference is at a hotel with a pool! I should pack a swim suit!" I write it onto the list so I don't forget.

The other list is my "carry list". Often I'm leaving for the airport very very early, sometimes as early as 4am. At that early hour I can't expect my brain to be functioning properly. I don't want to leave without my suitcase, tickets, phones, laptop, etc. Previously I'd be on the way to the airport worried that I've forgotten something. Now I have a separate list of things to be carrying when I leave the house. I usually build the list as I'm packing. This has prevented me from forgetting to bring training materials to LISA, my airplane tickets, or directions to the airport!

Speaking of forgetting things as you leave the house, this last item may seem obvious but it wasn't obvious to me. If there is something you need to bring to work tomorrow, lean that thing against the door so you can't avoid it as you leave. If I'm bringing a batch of cookies to my co-workers I don't leave the box in the kitchen where I won't see it. I leave it on the floor against the front door. (It's in tupperware, don't worry). As I'm leaving the house I can't forget to take it with me.

If the item is too big to put at the door, putting anything else there will jog your memory. For example, hang a sock on the door.

[Next tip will be posted Monday: "How to remember names"]

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Soft Skills

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My keys are the item I forget the most and even as a kid my Mom would leave a post-it note on the front door with the word "KEYS" written very clearly on it, so that I would always remember to double check that I had them with me. As the years have gone by I have used this same technique, but with other items too. It works so well!

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