All of the Lab-Rats are in some sort of transition. When in this change state, it’s easy to forget the little things and as well as forget about the needs and feelings of others.
When I get busy, I go into AlexWorld, and forget the basics of living with someone else. I sometimes even forget to eat. Usually this just causes minor misunderstandings or irritations, but sometimes it causes a big muck up, like what happened to me on my trip to Ireland (via Paris) to meet up with my parents in October, 2006. This week, I asked the Lab-Rats to read the post Overconfident Memory then answer the following questions:
- Do you rely on memory? If you do, how reliable is it?
- What sort of tools do you use to keep yourself on track when day to day life wants to derail your plans?
- How do you manage pursuing your dreams while cohabitating with others? Is there a clear division of labour or do things just happen (or not)?
This week, the Urbane Lion was in the middle of a house merger, so his answers are quick and to the point. He never relies on memory because he knows it’s bad. Brett relied on memory and forgot to answer them until I prompted him but normally he has a two systems (one for work, one for home) that function well for him (when he remembers to check them). Crista says that she relies on memory but then discusses her Blackberry obsession, so perhaps she relies less on memory than she says she does. Sal used to rely on memory but he’s been wrong too many times so relies on paper and his wife now.
I’ve learned not to rely on memory at all. I’ve been known to ask Raul what he wants for lunch (to which he replies), then when he gets home from work, I’ll ask again, completely unaware I asked and set up certain expectations (that lunch would be ready when he got home from an exhausting and hateful day at work). Not a good situation, so I now write everything down.
I was surprised at the “I used paper” responses. While Brett and the Urbane Lion use email and Outlook at work, they say that at home they like to write themselves notes. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I lose bits of paper really quickly (usually within moments of writing it down). Because I’m on-line almost all the time, I use web-based tool like Remember The Milk and Now Do This. Crista loves her Blackberry – she thinks she’ll use a paper based calendar but by mid-January of each year she’s stopped writing on them. [Addendum: Brett and the Lion both let me know later that they transfer all their bits of paper into electronic format and if Brett had decent wireless coverage, he’d go for an iPhone.]
Sal’s biggest memory aid is his wife who seems to keep him on track in every way and not just on schedule. In Sal’s case it works well, but be careful with relying on your spouse to be your external hard drive. If I were to do that, for example, Raul would tell me to track it myself or forget about it. He’s no one’s secretary, but that’s our relationship, not Sal’s. Anyway, this idea leads me to the last point which is…
Getting Things Done
Memory and happy relationships are linked. If you are constantly forgetting things and your partner has to remember for you, remind you and/or do it because you’ve forgotten to, then unless you’ve worked it out like Sal and his wife have, you’re going to have problems.
Add in achieving your dreams which likely takes away from the daily-routine stuff and – woo! – look out for the fireworks (and not the good kind – more like the lighting-a-match-in-a-firework factory kind). Brett gets around this problem by working on his own stuff early mornings before the rest of the family is awake. Sal, as we noted, has the full support (in all ways) of his wife.
Crista made a good observation, that in many relationships the division of labour might be equal, but the expectations aren’t. Because of those expectations (such as how much time is spent on what and who should be doing it), it’s easy to let dreams get swept aside. If you’re like the Urbane Lion and the Urban Panther where your dreams are mostly the same then the expectation to mix the routine with moving dreams forward matches, but in Crista’s case, she decided to go off to school on her own, meaning that the expectations of getting other things done has needed to change. Fortunately, her husband is following along with these Lab-Rat exercises on his own giving them a way to talk about the changes.
In all cases communication is key to completing dreams and getting routine stuff done. In my own case, problems arise when Raul and I get too far into our own heads and forget to talk to each other. The Urbane Lion and the Urban Panther have different native languages, so they have learned to avoid problems by asking directly, rather than being “diplomatic” which can just cause language confusion. Brett and his wife admit to being human and note that although they try to communicate well, sometimes it doesn’t happen, but they know their big goals and just let other things slide. Sal also acknowledges that a lot of times with young kids letting things slide is the least stressful way to go.
How about you? How do you balance your task memory (or lack thereof) with getting things done and cohabiting with others? For those who live alone, what benefits or challenges do you find in relying on just yourself to get things done?
- Memory is fallible by nature – even the most organized people need some sort of support system in place.
- Everyone has their own way to remember tasks – and it’s usually a combination of systems depending on the situation.