Monday, April 2, 2012

Can't Forget To.......Look! A Pretty Bird!

If you're anything like me, then you have so much going on that sometimes "unimportant" thoughts have to take a back seat to something more immediate and pressing. The perfect example is my laundry. I am a horrible laundry person. I put the clothes in the washer and then I remember about them at the most inopportune times - such as sitting at a restaurant far from home, in the middle of a yoga class, or during a work meeting. The thought comes into my mind ("don't forget to switch the clothes to the dryer!") and then it goes out just as softly as it came. And there is no predicting when it will reappear (usually NOT when I am at home and able to actually accomplish the task).

I have found a system in the past year or so that has a lot of promise. So far, it has been better than setting timers and text alerts on my phone (which I still do, but don't need to rely as heavily on them now). I thought I would share it with you, just in case you have a similar issue.

So how do I remind myself of these little thoughts? I project them onto something I will see in the future directly before the task has to be accomplished. I know, it sounds strange, but hear me out.

This morning I needed to stop at CVS on the way home from yoga. The thought came into my head as I was laying on my mat before class began. I had been meaning to get to CVS for 3 days now but kept forgetting, so it was really important I remembered. Therefore, I turned to my technique. I pictured my drive home from yoga. At 12 Mile Rd there is a huge church I pass, so I mentally stamped the thought "go to CVS" onto it in my mind. I then continued on my drive and on the corner where I would usually go straight to go home but where I needed to turn to go to CVS, I again concentrated on that intersection while mantra-ing "turn and go to CVS". I did this over and over for about a minute or two. Then cleared my head and began to meditate, eventually moving into an amazing morning hot vinyasa class. By then, any thought of CVS had long since left my mind.

I get out of class and into my car and begin to drive home, the CVS thought still hidden. I drive a few miles and I see the church - boom! Into my head comes the thought "go to CVS". I just smile in wonder at how well it worked and start to go on a mental tangent on how cool that just was, letting the CVS thought slip out of my head again.

A mile later, I am at the intersection. My blinker goes on automatically. I think it is strange and then I remember "turn and go to CVS". My subconscious was a little quicker than my thinking brain, but it still worked regardless. I pulled into CVS - mission accomplished.

I use this pretty often lately and it works great. For instance, if I need to bring a few things I am likely to forget with me somewhere I will picture the door handle in my house and attach the thought "there should be 3 things in your hand" or something. Should be short and quick so it easily can be remembered. With the laundry, it will often be when I see my kitchen sink, since that is right next to the stairs to the basement. The reason I believe it works better than an external reminder, is that you are only going to trigger the thought when you are imminently close to where you need to be to do the task, so there isn't much time to forget again. For example, if I set a reminder on my phone to make Alex's lunch and I happen to be outside or in the middle of something when it goes off, I just shut it off and continue what I was doing - ultimately forgetting again. But if I picture making Alex's lunch when I see the fridge, I will already be right there in the kitchen and can quickly do it.

Now it isn't foolproof - I have often found myself driving towards a store just to forget in route and drive right past. But it is pretty amazing how well it works overall. If you need help remembering the little tasks, give it a try. Why not? Worst case, it doesn't work for you. Best case, it does :)

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