You know you’re forgetful: when people ask whether you’ve found the answer they wanted yet (but you don’t recall them asking the question); if you often have trouble remembering where your car keys are, or where you parked your car in the parking lot; if you miss appointments; and if you can never remember a person’s name even a few seconds after being introduced.

Below are some of my personal tips for combatting forgetfulness, plus some other great ideas from others. Note that most of these tips are very easy to use, and they are also common sense!

Fighting Absentmindedness

Here are tips for dealing with specific situations you may be experiencing from time to time:

  • Can’t find car keys. Right now get a small tupperware container and set it on a shelf in your kitchen cabinet. When you come home from being out, always put your keys in this bowl. They “key” to remembering where your keys are is to always put them back in the same place, immediately!

  • Can’t find car in parking lot. I kept running into this problem at the grocery store until one day I solved it quite simply. Now I always park on the first or second row to the left of the entrance (as seen when facing the store). That way, when I come out, I naturally start walking toward where my car is parked, because it has become a habit (a pattern).

  • Can’t remember someone’s name after meeting them. Well, of course my first recommendation is to learn the Name/Face memory system! But if you forget to use the system one time or another, simply write the person’s name down as soon as you possibly can, even if it’s on a napkin or scrap of paper. Research shows that most forgetting occurs within just a few minutes of learning new information (even for people who are not forgetful). Writing down the person’s name will preserve the name on paper until you can review it later.

  • Always miss appointments. This may be as much an issue of organization as it is of forgetfulness. Get yourself a day planner from Wal-Mart! I carry a monthly pocket Daytimer that has two pages for each day. Whenever you make a new doctor’s appointment or whatever, record it. And don’t forget to check your planner every day. This is a simple solution to a problem many people have simply because we lead such busy lives.

  • Lose your train of thought. This one is embarrassing. You are in the middle of explaining something and you get interrupted briefly. Then you can’t remember what you were talking about! The best strategy for me has been to be honest with the other person and make light about my forgetfulness in that situation. Usually if you don’t freak out, the other person won’t give you a hard time. They will usually just remind you about what you were saying. (After all, they’ve probably been there, too.)

  • Can’t remember that someone told you something. This is probably a concentration issue, pure and simple. You simply may not be paying attentionwhen other people talk! (I have been accused of this, many times.) First of all, awareness is a trait you can build if you are motivated enough. Simply decide to listen carefully when people talk. Second, try repeating back to the person what they said. Don’t use the exact same words, though, or you’ll sound like a parrot. Instead, to show you really have heard them, say back a summary of what they said, in different words than they used. And third, work on your concentration abilities. 

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