Hello, friends, if we could boil down adulting to one thing, maybe it would be this: It is your job to remember to do things.
You can’t expect your mom or your teachers or your volleyball coach to nag you to get things done anymore, and your boss most certainly doesn’t want to have to keep reminding you about tasks, either. Go to the dentist Tuesday at 3 p.m.! Submit that essay! Do the laundry this weekend! Cookies are in the oven for 25 minutes! Drop off that rental application!
Take Mittens to the vet next Friday! It might seem like a lot, but you can do it. And we are here to help.
6 Easy steps to remember things you have to do
1. Write it down or take notes
If you want to remember to do something, write it down in a place that’s easy for you to see periodically. I have a whiteboard that’s right next to my refrigerator and it says “clean the basement”… and has… for the last two weeks.
Write down the very specific task you need to do. Something vague like “talk to Mom about Thanksgiving plans” is vague and easy to put off.
Something specific like “Call Mom at 3:45 about holiday plans” gives you a real-time to aim for. You need to pick a medium that you pay attention to. Maybe that’s using a Sharpie to write reminders on your wrist or a post-it note stuck to your computer.
Sometimes this might be using technology. Use a reminder or voice memos app on your phone! We’ll talk more in a minute about technology that can help you, but first, we want to talk about this really weird and easy trick to remembering tasks.
2. Write it down to remember things you have to do
Yes. It’s really just… the one thing. Your brain can only hold so many thoughts at once, and it’s really vital to outsource as much as possible to the devices that are here to help you. And that device might be a sheet of paper and pen.
You know how sometimes, you turn the oven on, and think, “I’ll totally remember in a couple of minutes that I turned the oven on,” and then that thought vanishes in the wind, and hours later you wake up in the middle of the night and smell, like, burned cookies… or burned house? Don’t let that happen.
When you think to yourself, “I’ll remember to do this later,” don’t believe that. Immediately stop what you’re doing to take just a second and jot down or record a reminder to yourself.
You can write as many reminders as you want, whether that’s “disengage the parking brake before trying to drive” or “eat breakfast before leaving the house” or “write the YouTube script that’s overdue.” Just… hypothetically.
3. Use Technology
A ton of nifty tools exist nowadays to help you get through your day. Google Calendar is the oldie and goodie, and it can sync with your devices so you can always quickly flip through to see what you’re supposed to be doing at a certain time.
If audio reminders better suit the way your brain works, that’s great! Check out your preferred app store to find an audio reminder app that will let you record and play reminders.
You can also look around the internet and see what else might work best for you; everything from Pinterest to Trello to Evernote has useful features to offer, depending on what you’re trying to remember to get done.
But honestly, the simplest solution is usually the best. Planners, made out of good ole notebook paper, can be really useful and offer the benefit of never needing a battery or wifi connection.
They also work great in conjunction with a digital reminder, because if you’re writing down a reminder in more than one place, you’re even more likely to reinforce the memory in your brain.
4. Sleep well to remember things you have to do
Friends, it is hard to remember stuff if you’re tired. I know this. I have a baby. A buttload of studies has shown that even a little bit of sleep deprivation reduces your cognitive abilities.
So if you’re tired, adjust your expectations of yourself accordingly, and try not to overcomplicate your schedule.
5. Figure out your brain
Only you can know what systems work best for keeping you organized. It’s worth it to think about times that you’ve forgotten an important thing, and what conclusions you might draw from how that situation played out.
And if you’re really struggling to accomplish simple tasks and get through daily life, to the point where it’s affecting your job and personal relationships, it might be worth it to see if a disorder like ADHD is at play.
We can’t tell you if that’s the case, but plenty of tools and quizzes online might help you decide if pursuing a diagnosis could be helpful. But first, consider our next step.
6. Go easy on yourself if you’re learning new habits
It’s super common to go through phases where you’re consistently absent-minded. I recently put a diaper on my son. He was already wearing a diaper. So… it’s fine.
Think about whether you’re sleep-deprived like we were just talking about, or if you’re moving around a lot, starting a new job, or going through some other kind of big life transition.
It doesn’t matter if you see other people around you who don’t seem to be having the same trouble, because you are not them! Keep doing your best, try to keep things simple, and use all the reminder tools at your disposal. You got this!
As always, we would love to hear about your tips and tricks for remembering things. Happy Remembering!