Moving my memory outside my brain

Posted: - Modified: | life

I don’t trust my memory. One way to deal with this is to force myself to use it more, like the way some people wipe their cellphone address books and make themselves commit phone numbers to memory. Another way is to learn mnemonic devices and use vivid imagery, such as those suggested in Moonwalking with Einstein. A third way is to arrange my life so that I don’t have to remember as much. I trust this way much more.

So I build these memory scaffolds around me. Appointments go on a Google Calendar that’s synchronized on all the devices I use. I hired an assistant who sets up meetings and doublechecks that all the information is there. I use Evernote to capture more and more of what I come across: websites, snippets, e-mails, pictures, scans. Blogging gives me an external public memory, which is great because people and Google have reminded me of things I’ve completely forgotten about. I have checklists for extraordinary things like packing, and I have them for mundane life as well: morning routines, evening routines, which sites to update when WordPress comes out with a new version, what to do every month… I practise confessing that I don’t remember someone’s name, and I winnow out from my life the people who take offense or who put people on the spot. I carry a belt-bag because I was always setting my purse down somewhere that I could not remember. I give things away, label cupboards, take inventory of drawers.

I’m learning not to fight the fuzziness of memory. I could be stressed out by forgetfulness, but that just makes things worse (Wikipedia). This is normal. I can work around it. Every lapse becomes an opportunity to make something better.

How do you deal with the fuzziness of memory?

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