Do you consider yourself to be a forgetful person? (It’s okay if you do. We all have our flaws!) In fact, just the other day, I was having a conversation with my fiancé about our strengths and weaknesses. One of my biggest strengths (and unfortunately one of his biggest weaknesses), is forgetfulness. However, he’s excellent at fixing things and doing anything hands-on, whereas I’d rather talk hypotheticals, feelings, and leave the experimentation for someone else. (And perhaps that’s why we work!).
Anyways, when I stepped into my own parenting journey, my strengths and weaknesses alike came to life. And especially in the area of responsibility, this desire to never forget anything—from appointments to homework assignments, special dates to random facts—became even more pressing.
I didn’t want to forget anything. . . and I felt this pressure to keep everything together just because there were so many prior years that I missed! Needless to say, it wasn’t healthy (and I had a lot of unlearning to do!). But, I’ve learned to manage my perfectionism, embrace my strengths, and move forward with patience.
Whether you’re someone who never forgets or tends to slip up quite often, here are some simple ways to be less forgetful (especially in a work-from-home world).
Keep A (Manageable!) To-Do List
I’m a big fan of to-do lists. In my opinion, there’s truly no better way to organize and keep track of everything you need all in one place (or 20 places if you’re like me).
You can keep this list somewhere on your desk, but if you work online, then you can use apps and extensions that will manage your to-do list for you whenever you open a new tab in your browser.
However, the use of your to-do list (in a productive way!) is just as important as keeping one. For instance, if your list starts to grow too long, look over the tasks to decide which is most crucial and time-sensitive, and shift them to the top. Be sure to check off the items you complete along the way.
Become a Devoted Note-Taker
Reminders are an important part of the process because, let’s face it, you can’t keep everything in your head all the time! You can use notebooks, Post-It Notes, phone apps, scrawled text on the fridge or chalkboard, or even texts to yourself!
You can even use computer-based apps to add contextual notes to websites, documents, and programs. This way, if there’s something that you’re supposed to remember when you’re working with specific tools or webpages, then you can make sure that you have a note right where you need it.
Set Up Your Inbox(es) Properly
If you’re like me when it comes to email, eventually, everything gets lost in the endless list. But, if you own/run multiple businesses or want to keep family separate from work, it doesn’t make sense to delete old messages.
However, you can make your inbox much more manageable and organized. Many email servers allow you to create and manage multiple inboxes where you can organize and/or split emails by subject matter, or by which projects they’re related to. Some mail servers even allow you to color code and label your emails, so you can make sure that you have labels for those that demand a reply, or those that have important information for certain projects, and so on.
Use Digital Bookmarks
If you’re the kind of person who relies on a lot of information to help you work, then you should make sure that you keep that information accessible. However, rather than putting all of your bookmarks on one toolbar or folder, start to get more specific with them, grouping them by which task they’re designed to help with or what purpose they play.
You can also use an extension like OneTab to help you save but ‘hide’ your tabs when you’re not actively using them. Or, my current favorite Google grouped tabs that helps you keep tabs active but appropriately organized.
Take Breaks Often
Don’t mistake forgetting to do things as “not working hard enough.” It’s often the opposite. Your mind can get frazzled by the sheer weight of all the things that you know you have to do if you’re not able to balance all of your different responsibilities well.
Managing your work-life balance is vital, especially if you have kids. This can mean ensuring you’re able to work flexible hours, but also setting yourself with a set amount of work hours a day and not going over it. Finding your most productive work hours and making sure that your home-time is, in fact, not time spent on work can help lighten your mental load.
Maintain a Healthy Balance
Being a hard worker is one thing, but it’s just as important to fulfill your physical needs (in order to stay mentally sharp). Making sure that you get enough sleep is perhaps the most important. Brain fog and memory problems become much more common when you’re sleep-deprived! Eating healthy foods and making sure you get enough exercise to offer a whole host of benefits for your mental health, as well. There are even specific brain foods, such as oily fish, walnuts, and berries that are specifically well-known to help improve your memory.
It’s also a good idea to just rest in general. Create balance in your schedule so that you’re taking time for yourself, your family, and your personal hobbies around your work schedule in order to maintain balance in the long-term.
While all of the tips above can help you be less forgetful and sharpen your memory, there are going to be times when you forget something. For that reason, you shouldn’t attempt to take a way out of assuming responsibility. It’s okay (and healthy!) to admit fault and apologize sincerely.
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses and, like with the example of my fiancé and I, sometimes the areas where we are strong can balance our partner’s weaknesses or vice versa. The most important thing is to work on our areas of need so that we can continually grow.
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