I wake up on a very peaceful morning thankful that I finally have a free day to rest and spend time alone with my husband. He thought it was a bit strange that I had no plans that day, but was also very grateful. My phone was dead so I left it charging as I went about my day. Hours later, I looked at my phone and my boss and coworkers were worried about me. Worried? Why? It’s Sunday. What was going on with work today? I was getting ready to reply when I realized…NOOOOOOO!!! I completely forgot about a brunch date with my coworkers. What’s worse…I PLANNED IT!
I work remotely from home for a company and since most of my coworkers live nearby I thought it would be a great idea to start having regular brunches together so that we could all meet and get to know each other in person. Most of us met once before at one of our brunches and truly enjoyed it so we decided to continue the tradition. I planned the place to meet, made reservations, and sent everyone calendar notifications. I was very excited to meet with them, especially since some of the ones that could not make it the first time were coming. So how could I forget?!
- It is Natural
Forgetting is a healthy part of adaptation because we need to discard things that are not important to allow a focus on more relevant things. The brunch was by no means something I considered unimportant and Art Khon explained it perfectly in his article. Khon wrote, “The problem, however, is that in the process of all of this memory purging, our brain often forgets important information”. Stupid brain 🙄
- Stress = Mess
Stress, as well as lack of sleep, is another factor that may decrease memory retention. I was sleeping about 5 hours, if that, during that time and I also was part of the planning process for several other things. I was keeping it together by placing all of my appointments on my IPhone calendar with double alerts. Apparently, I became way too dependent on the phone because when it died and I did not have the alert about the brunch I automatically thought nothing was going on.
I call them brain intruders, but Dr. Elizabeth Loftus more sophistically named it interference. Dr. Loftus is a cognitive psychologist, distinguished professor, and an expert on memory. She has several theories on the reason for our forgetfulness, however the interference theory hit the nail on the head with my case. Interference is described as two different sets of information fighting for space in your brain. More specifically, “retroactive interference is when new information screws up old information” (Josh Sturgeon, Rippen blog). When I am not working, I disconnect completely and focus on family, friends, the house, other things. I related the brunch as a work event and because I was not thinking of work during the weekend I let the new information of running errands for the house all day Saturday take place of thinking about the brunch. Not cool 😡
Forgetting my important date almost ruined my entire day! I was almost in tears of how angry and ashamed I felt. Because of that I was determined to develop new strategies that would improve my memory of the essentials. Apart from reducing stress, getting more sleep, and making sure my phone is charged:p (all the obvious), I came up with 3 ways to remember better:
- Have a reliable person or persons as a reminder. Many doctor offices and other businesses call the day before as a confirmation for the appointment. Telling everyone to touch base the day before is a great way to confirm the date and for remembering that something is going on in the first place.
- Review the schedule for the next day before bed. I have all my appointments on my phone anyway so it makes it easier to review and then place my phone to charge before going to sleep.
- Shout it out loud. Ok, I don’t have to shout. Talking about any plans out loud, to others or to myself, helps make the information more memorable to my brain. If you’re interested, click here to read a short and sweet article explaining how this works.
Thankfully, I have some very amazing and very understanding coworkers and they were all just very relieved that I was okay 🙂 All the more reason why I do not want to forget any of our future brunches.
Have you forgotten something very important? What are some ways you remember important dates?