How to remember stuff. Everyday tip #60

My awful memory is one of my least-charming traits. I know, the fact that I'm not perfect is truly shocking (hah!), but it's true.

I try to tell myself that people love my uncanny ability to forget a name as soon as I meet a person, or that my forgetting to put things in the mail is adorable -- but I'm not actually crazy enough to believe that. So I picked up an old memory-improvement book in a quest for practical self-improvement, and while the book has all sorts of tips to help you remember number sequences and other party tricks, the only chapter I've liked so far is the one on being mindful. On just remembering things.

The secret, shocking as it is, is to PAY ATTENTION.

I know!

At first I was like you don't say... but if I'm honest a lot of the things I forget are things I barely pay attention to. How am I supposed to remember them?

This head-smackingly obvious observation came with a very practical tip. In order to remember mundane things (like a grocery list) you must make them extraordinary, at least in your mind.

For example, I wanted to remember to mail out some thank you cards that had been sitting in my purse for a week. (A week! Sometimes I am pathetic.) I kept driving by mailboxes and forgetting that I had the letters with me. So, following the book's advice, I imagined a mailbox growing arms and turning into a crossing guard, blowing its whistle and telling me to STOP as I approached it.

Ridiculous, I know, but also EXTRAORDINARY and that is the point.

And of course, the next time I saw a mailbox I stopped. Quickly.

It works. I'm as shocked as you are.