Improve your memoryToday, I want to focus on prospective memory–this is the type of memory we use when we need to remember something that will happen in the future, such as, “I need to remember the next time I’m at the grocery store to stop in at the office supply and get printer paper.”   These are things that we can’t take care of right now–they need to be done in the future–and they are not part of our normal routine.  This type of memory is the most fallible and unreliable, so here’s the strategy:  Send reminders to your future self!  

If you don’t have a system to help with prospective memory, you’re causing yourself a lot of extra stress and frustration!  If you have a system, are there ways to improve?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • A paper or electronic calendar–easy, right?  The only caveat is to use only one calendar.  I like google calendar because I can access it anywhere, any time from my smart phone, laptop, or even a friend’s computer.  But there’s a glitch–what to do if there’s an item you need that is associated with what you need to remember, i.e., a registration form that needs to be mailed in?
  • The 43 Folders method (remember this from Get Organized, Part 2?).  Excellent for reminding yourself of things that need to be addressed on a certain day and capturing associated papers.  If you’re interested in this strategy but haven’t set up the folders yet, you may want to make it easier on yourself and order the 43 folders set from  It’s expensive ($40) but may be worth it if you’re procrastinating.  The set comes with an instructional booklet.
  • Both Android and iPhones have Reminders apps!  You can type in a to-do, then set a day & time for your phone to remind you–what could be simpler?!  You can also set Reminders to cue you when you leave or arrive at a certain location.  This takes a tiny bit more effort to set up, but it’s great!  For example, you can set the location reminder to remind you the next time you’re at the grocery store to go to the office supply and pick up printer paper.  Easy!
  • For things you need to remember daily, like taking medication, set an alarm on your phone to go off every day at the same time.  The alarm can also be used as a reminder to take a few minutes for deep breathing and relaxation.
  • Low tech:  put notes on your steering wheel, handbag, or wallet if you need to remember to do something the next time you leave the house, on the coffee pot or toothbrush if you need to remember something in the morning, or on your pillow if you need to remember to do something before you go to bed.  This isn’t my favorite because notes can get lost and it only works for stuff in the near future, but if you need a really simple strategy to get started, try this.

For today, set up one of these strategies.  If nothing else, set an alarm to remind you to do your diaphragmatic breathing.  If you’re feeling more motivated, set up the 43 Folders, Reminders app, or a calendar system.

What works best for you?  Strategies I didn’t mention?