How to Never Forget Anything Again

  • One way to remember.The Find: Fight your forgetfulness (even maybe banish it for good) with this comprehensive system from Leo Babauta of the blog, Zen Habits.
  • The Source: The blog of Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek.
The Takeaway: Like the common cold, forgetfulness is a common affliction that has affected nearly everyone at one time or another yet which stubbornly resists attempts to find a cure. But Babauta thinks he's found one. Using a host of technological aids supported by a few simple mental habits, he claims you'll never misplace a phone number or miss an important deadline again. These five tech tools form the foundation of his system:
  1. Evernote: a great app for storing just about any information you want. It can hold notes, clip web pages, store photos and audio notes, and more. Really cool feature: snap a picture of something on your camera phone, and send it to Evernote -- then Evernote will scan the image and you can search for words within the note. This makes sending yourself notes really easy.
  2. Gmail: Gmail uses archive and search (along with labels if you like) to quickly store and retrieve any information you need. I also use a Firefox plugin to combine Gmail with Gcal so I can see emails and my calendar in one view.
  3. Gcal: Also known as Google Calendar is accessible from anywhere. Get used to setting up reminders quickly in your calendar, and you won't have to remember anything.
  4. Anxiety: I actually play around with lots of to-do apps, but my current one is Anxiety. I don't like to keep actions in my email program, so when I receive an email that requires an action, I just quickly add a to-do item to Anxiety.
  5. Jott: This handy app ties everything together. Just call Jott from your cell phone and leave a message, and it'll be sent to your email -- or to another service you specify. For example, I've set up Evernote as one of my Jott contacts, so that when I send a Jott message to Evernote, it's automatically added to my Evernote database and is searchable later.
Got that? Though Babauta acknowledges it sounds complicated, he claims that in practice it's all very simple. A good mobile device with a full spectrum of features is a prerequisite, of course, as are a few mental habits:
  1. Make a note, immediately. This is perhaps the most important habit. If you can teach yourself to make a note of things right away, immediately, without putting it off, you're halfway there.
  2. Use your lists and tools, consistently.
  3. Make it quick and painless. If it's difficult to add a note or save information, you'll put it off sometimes.
  4. Archive and search, don't file.
Have your doubts the system could work for you? The full blog posts offers alternatives to overcome many objections.

The Question: Does your own organizational system consist of string on the finger or something more complicated? Share your best tips with your fellow BNET readers.

(Image of memory aid by Mr.Thomas, CC 2.0)