Relying on Memory – Full Text Answers

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:

  1. Do you rely on memory? If you do, how reliable is it?
  2. What sort of tools do you use to keep yourself on track when day to day life wants to derail your plans?
  3. 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)?

Urbane Lion’s Response

  1. Do you rely on memory? Of course not. I have been burned too many times before. How many million dollar making ideas have I forgotten because I relied on memory? If you do, how reliable is it?
  2. What sort of tools do you use to keep yourself on track when day to day life wants to derail your plans? I like to keep here and there around the hosue little ntoepads, poor man’s PDAs. Wherever, bathroom, bedroom, kitchen. So, I leave them lying around all over. When I have a bright idea I jot it down. Period. Empty the memory. Outllook is also one of my good friemnds. And emailing from the office to home and vice versa just so as not to forget any appointments.
  3. How do you manage pursuing your dreams while cohabitating with others? I have been living alone for the past 2.5 years. And now that the Panther is moving in, we are slowly getting to know each of our likes and dislikes and there is some sort of natural selection when it comes time to do the household chores. Well, I like to think that I am in tune with the Urban Panther’s feelings and emotional state, and if I feel it is somewhat different I inquire. And I question myself if it is something in my behaviours. But, instead of mulling things over and making up paranoid scenarios, I just ask the question outright. I want to keep my head free of uncertainties. Is there a clear division of labour or do things just happen (or not)?

Crista’s Response

  1. Do you rely on memory? If you do, how reliable is it?I mostly rely on memory to remember details and I’m usually okay doing that. Which is strange, because I’m not typically good with details. I feel choked by the little things, almost as if I’m unable to breathe. In some ways, I think I overcompensate.
  2. What sort of tools do you use to keep yourself on track when day to day life wants to derail your plans?I’ve been a Blackberry carrier for almost four years. And before that, a Palm Pilot. With the Blackberry (endorsement warning: I just got the new BOLD and love it!) my whole life is on there. Not sure where my plane ticket is? I just log in and get it. Not sure where to meet my friends, at what time? Just log on to the email account. I don’t actually use it for the calendar function, simply the social connections. And I always have the details I need. If it’s really important, it does land on the calendar, or I email my husband and tell him. If I need the details and can’t find them, I know he’s so particular he can pull them up in about four seconds.

    Every year I buy lots of calendars (because I love them so much) but I only manage to fill them until about January 6th. I don’t think my life was meant to be contained in 2 x 2 inch boxes.

  3. 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)?There seems to be a clear division of labour in my relationship with David, but I don’t think there’s a very clear division of expectations. Things happen, but not always to my liking. And when it comes to pursuing dreams, I’ve expected that to just happen as well, like the division of labour. When it doesn’t, I just go with the flow and pursue peace because it’s easier. And, my husband and family become a built-in excuse for the dreams not happening. It’s a much easier existence to tell the world you’re giving up your dreams for the sake of your family, when in fact, you’re dying inside. There needs to be a balance. Cohabitation/family is not a good enough defence for the death of a dream. (Can you tell I’m taking law courses?) Fortunately, my husband has made the choice to follow me on the Someday Journey and he’s answering the questions weekly so we can talk about the things we each hope to achieve. I guess in a way, we’ve decided to make sure things DO happen, rather than leave them to chance.

Brett’s Response

How timely this one is (was?) – as I shall explain below! My life is nothing if not busy, with a full-time job, a lovely wife, four children, and a million other projects on the go…

So if I’m not careful, things could get lost. Usually they do not. Usually…

1. I generally do not rely on my memory alone because – although it is good – it does not always kick in at the right time. You see, I remembered that I was to answer these questions by midnight Sunday, on Monday morning while I was in the shower… oops! So, what do I normally do to prevent this from happening?

2. I use two different systems that would be “five 9’s” reliable if I stuck to them. At work, I am chained to my desk (almost literally) and so I do everything in Outlook. If an email comes in and it is actionable, I drag it into the Task list and assign dates and reminders to it. If someone phones (rare), I make a task. When I’m away from my desk, I capture everything on paper and transfer it.

At home everything is on paper because I’m on the go a lot and I would consider a wireless device but the coverage here is so poor. Plus, I like the paper better.

Now of course, two things – first, you have to *get* things onto the paper (which is why I forgot to answer the questions, I read your email and then didn’t write it on my to-do list) and second, you have to review that list each day or several times a day. That I have no problem doing, the review.

So I’d say it usually works. I left your email in my Inbox and starred it… and then did nothing with it! Dang… well, something to improve this week I guess. Time to revisit my daily planning system.

3. Generally I work on “my” stuff early in the morning while the house sleeps or late at night while the house sleeps. Sometimes during the day I’ll work with pen & paper (writing or brainstorming) while we’re all sitting relaxing. That is much better than being plugged in on a laptop and it is easier to put it down. Plus you’re not hiding behind a machine that way.

I keep a list of my dreams and goals both electronically and on paper, so I can review them when needed. My task list should be nearby most times (paper is good for that). I do keep an electronic backup of the task list in case of loss.

For division of labour of stuff around the house, it just takes good communication between Cathryn & I – though we’re not perfect at that either, so I just put up a corkboard in the kitchen yesterday. We were keeping stuff on the fridge with magnets but the triplets like to take stuff…

Other than ensuring I capture everything in my systems and review them daily or more often, the main thing I need to do is give myself a break and try to put fewer things on the to-do lists. And make sure that these are for things that *truly* matter to me (moving overseas with my family, and writing).

Sal’s Response

I always revert back to a saying I learned from my mom: “I have a great memory, only it isn’t very long.”Needless to say, if I don’t write it down within an hour there will be no recollection of the event event or conversation even taking place. I guess this is a gift in some ways as it makes it very easy to forgive and forget.

I have tried to keep a palm pilot, a day planner, etc. but nothing works because I usually forget to check them when I need to. Just like your confidnce in the time of the train, you knew you didn’t need to look, well, thought you knew. I am the same way. I will think that I remember something, but it will be WAY wrong by the time I actually look at my planner. I now have employed a “secretary” to do all of my reminding. I pay her each time I get paid and it usually consists of all of my paycheck, minus gas and a couple bucks for snacks during the week. That’s right, my wife is a much better keeper of the schedule than I am, so, I tell her what I need to remember and she writes it down for me (yet another reason that I am more in love with her today than the day we got married).

As for the final question, mostly things don’t happen. I have my priorities set as my wife and children come first no matter what. Usually this means everything else gets placed on the back burner, sometimes it seem, indefinately. I know I will get around to them (oh no, look out, here it comes…) SOMEDAY, but for now, I have other things that need to be done. Besides, we had children early in life, so that when we are 40, we will be able to do our own thing. I know this seems a bit cliche, but, our time will come.

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6 thoughts on “Relying on Memory – Full Text Answers

  1. Interesting to see how the lab rats deal with memory stimulation. Paper seems to be the favorite flavor of the day though.

    I think relying on memory enough is only causes us mental stress. I find that by writing things down (yes, I’m another paper lover) I get them out of my system. It certainly helps to lighten the load a lot.

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..Do You Diversify?

  2. Re: Sal’s comment – Besides, we had children early in life, so that when we are 40, we will be able to do our own thing. I know this seems a bit cliche, but, our time will come.

    Me too. I was an empty nester by the time I was 41. HOWEVER, this does not automatically mean you will do your own thing. I honestly lost the first two years to Empty Nest Syndrome. And I was shocked. Shocked, I tell you! It would never have occured to me that I would experience ENS. But you honestly have no concept of how much your life is structured and guided by the presence of your children until they aren’t there. It was an honest to goodness struggle on my part to be able to do my own thing at that point. Damn hard work as a matter of fact.

    Urban Panther’s last blog post..Birth of a panther

  3. Wendi Kelly says:

    I was thinking about Brett’s response. Besides my daily to do list, I also keep my goals and dreams and long term plans written down and review them all the time. I think if I didn’t they might get swept away by time. THis keeps them fresh.

    Wendi Kelly’s last blog post..Dirty Dishes in the Sink

  4. Cath Lawson says:

    Hi Alex – hope you’re having a good time in Paris. Well, I am relieved reading this that I’m not the only person who needs to write stuff down to remember it.

    Cath Lawson’s last blog post..Social Media Leprosy and Other Problems

  5. Brett Legree says:


    It really does help, doesn’t it. I even carry a small picture of my vision board with me – for when I need a pick me up.

    Brett Legree’s last blog you’ve got yourself a gmail account – now what? backup!

  6. Crista’s answer about keeping the peace instead of pushing forward in the face of resistance is something I can definitely relate to. My hubby and I are trying to beat this one by doing a bit of a two year plan now, which takes into account stuff which is important to me, him and both of us.

    I think you need to acknowledge there are at least three entities to consider in couples/families. You’re not just one person and so there may well not be total agreement. You both deserve to be satisfied, and usually that means having some honest and possibly uncomfortable conversations to work out the right dream/goal mix that everyone can live with.

    And I couldn’t survive without writing things down on calendars and in my bedside notebook. I not only have a memory like a goldfish, but I have trouble sleeping if I have not emptied my head of all the things I need to get done the next day or in the next week.

    It’s interesting hearing how other people handle these issues.


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