Moving my memory outside my brain

I don’t trust my memory. One way to deal with this is to force myself to use it more, like the way some people wipe their cellphone address books and make themselves commit phone numbers to memory. Another way is to learn mnemonic devices and use vivid imagery, such as those suggested in Moonwalking with Einstein. A third way is to arrange my life so that I don’t have to remember as much. I trust this way much more.

So I build these memory scaffolds around me. Appointments go on a Google Calendar that’s synchronized on all the devices I use. I hired an assistant who sets up meetings and doublechecks that all the information is there. I use Evernote to capture more and more of what I come across: websites, snippets, e-mails, pictures, scans. Blogging gives me an external public memory, which is great because people and Google have reminded me of things I’ve completely forgotten about. I have checklists for extraordinary things like packing, and I have them for mundane life as well: morning routines, evening routines, which sites to update when WordPress comes out with a new version, what to do every month… I practise confessing that I don’t remember someone’s name, and I winnow out from my life the people who take offense or who put people on the spot. I carry a belt-bag because I was always setting my purse down somewhere that I could not remember. I give things away, label cupboards, take inventory of drawers.

I’m learning not to fight the fuzziness of memory. I could be stressed out by forgetfulness, but that just makes things worse (Wikipedia). This is normal. I can work around it. Every lapse becomes an opportunity to make something better.

How do you deal with the fuzziness of memory?

6 responses to “Moving my memory outside my brain”

  1. The Glider says:

    I don’t like fuzziness (I’ve been told it’s related to my ADD).  I think, though, that I would be able to embrace it quite well if it weren’t for those around me who expect me to be ‘predictably’ sharp (as opposed to being sharp with those ‘useless’ bits of knowledge and trivia that I find extremely compelling and amazingly relevant because of/despite their convoluted connection to the instant situation…)

  2. mom says:

    Waiting for your computer program which would match an image capture of the person I am facing against a database of people I know, should know or have met. I think Google has invented the eyeglasses with the camera and computer (not sure if they’ve rearched this far) so I am just waiting for the software from you. Then, I won’t have to be embarrassed that I can’t remember people’s names. Maybe you can expand that program so any object I think of corresponds to an image in my database, which will get updated everything I put it down. When I start to look for it, the computer will match the object with the latest info on it, and voila, I will know where it is. 

  3. Sebastian says:

    It’s great to read how you organize your “externalized memory”. So, how do the above mentioned tools relate to / interact with org-mode?

    1. sachac says:

      Evernote moved to OAuth, so I need to figure that part out again. =)

      Sacha Chua Tel: +1 647 547 9436 – Mobile: +1 416 823 2669
      http://experivis.com – Turning experiences into visuals http://livinganawesomelife.com – Life, experiments, and everything

      1. Sebastian says:

        Ah, okay. Please let us know if you figured it out… 8-) 

      2.  There’s an Emacs OAuth library (https://github.com/psanford/emacs-oauth/) that worked for me to connect Emacs to my blog with Tumblesocks (https://github.com/gcr/tumblesocks).

        If you’re planning to tackle it yourself, hopefully there’s some useful code examples in there :)

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