Forgetting literally everything. Tips please.

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This topic contains 16 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  Javid1980 6 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #136199

    AnnaNL
    Participant

    Sometimes I have one of those days where I have a lot of small tasks to do, and those are the worst days.
    I forget literally everything. I wish a tool existed that would filter “to do” thoughts out of my brain and list them, because the only real life solution seems to be hanging a clipboard with a pen around my neck or walking around with my phone and to do app and typing constantly.
    It’s the smallest things which aren’t really even tasks, but I cannot remember them.

    A few examples:
    – Unplugging chargers, either after taking my phone off them or before I leave the house if I have forgotten it earlier.
    – Putting shoe laces back in my freshly polished shoes before I leave the house (that bus isn’t waiting for me to lace my shoes).
    – Where I put my keys or my phone
    – Whether I have packed everything I need before leaving the house (wallet, phone, charger, laptop charger, notebook, pen) usually I have everything, but going through the list in my head, I cannot remember putting any of those things in my bag.
    – Whether I have turned off the coffee machine (we’ve got one of those which keeps it hot)
    – Putting things in my calendar app (I’ll remember something to put in it, but the moment I step into the room where my phone is, I’ve forgotten. Not what to put in my calendar, but having to put something in my calendar altogether).
    – Filling my water bottle. In uni, a toilet break is the time to fill my bottle. So I’ll bring it to the toilet, pee, wash my hands, quickly glance at my face in the mirror and return to class with my STILL empty bottle in my hand. Sometimes I realise as I’m walking and turn back around to fill it, sometimes I don’t realise until I go to take a sip or worse, my meds. And then I’m thinking: I just filled it… How is it empty?
    – Taking laundry that’s drying outside back inside the house
    – My shopping list
    – Making tea. I will put water into the kettle and do something else while I wait. Three hours later I wonder why there’s a new tea bag in a mug on the table.
    – Making tea part 2. I return to the kitchen and pour the water. After five minutes I wonder why my tea is still pale. Turns out I never switched on the kettle and I’m trying to brew tea in cold water.
    – Setting a timer. I usually time my study time or study breaks. When I start, I set a timer. Or at least, it’s a thought in my head. Two seconds later, forgot it. Then two minutes into my activity I remember I have forgotten to do something. Another two minutes of trying to figure out what, I remember I forgot to set a timer.

    These are just some examples, but this happens in all kinds of situations.
    Things like this happen almost non stop and I’m exhausted. How do I remember these things?! Am I the only one who is this forgetful? I feel like I’m going insane sometimes.
    I often remember I have forgotten something, but don’t know what. “I meant to do something…” “What was it I wanted to do before this?”
    I think forgetting whether I have or have not done something has to do with me being a visual thinker. Sometimes I think I have done something because I saw myself doing it in my head, but I haven’t actually done it.
    Same the other way around, if I’m only half paying attention, I can’t remember. For example when packing my bag. My brain didn’t save the images of something going in my bag and it almost seems like a blank spot in my mind.

    Any tips??

  • #136204

    quietlylost
    Participant

    For me, I find it sometimes helps to slow myself down and be mindful. For example, I frequently forget if I’ve locked my door or not, or if I’ve packed items such as my wallet or keys before work. I will deliberately slow myself down when I do these things, and even say to myself, “I’m locking the door right now. The door is locked.” Rather than getting caught up in the thousand thoughts in my head at the time, I focus on tasks.

    For appointments, I enter them immediately. I usually do this when I’m at a doctor’s office or at work. If possible, I also get a physical card or appointment reminder as I can put them in my wallet and review them periodically.

    I spend time setting things up in advance. The night before I will lay out my clothes, my wallet and keys, and even set the coffee maker to autostart. If you have one that stays on, it might be worthwhile to spend the money to get one with auto shutoff. That’s one less thing to worry about. I also make a habit of putting certain items in the same place all the time. It doesn’t always work, but for the most part it does.

    In general, there are still days I’m super forgetful. Even with medication and therapy. It’s about progress not perfection. I may never be great at keeping it all together, but I have learned ways to get better over time. There are apps and things that can help, and other tools such as bullet journals or coaching. Whatever works for you. Good luck!

    • #136242

      ADHDinPGH
      Participant

      Oooh I love the idea of talking through tasks as you complete them to remember!!

      Also I agree about spending on a coffee maker with auto shutoff. To me it is *always* worth saving up for the item that makes my life easier. I have timers on several lights in the house that I used to forget to turn off all the time.

      And for keys and wallet a command hook by any main entrance doors or a basket as soon as you walk in is a great location to make a habit of putting those things in one spot.

    • #138187

      lukeferrari
      Participant

      Anna, firstly thanks for sharing: hopefully the replies here demonstrate that you’re not alone. Also, like others on here, I think the key is to recognise that it will happen, develop tools to manage it & know that some days these tools will work better than others. I have a fairly physical job with many steps & I find that verbalising the completed steps helps me remember, but also informs the rest of the team. That way, I can use everyone else’s brain to check my own by asking others if the task was done. For the things that are less physical, I write it into my Bullet Journal (my “brain dump”). This allows me to forget about it without worrying too much, as I know it’s somewhere. Take care & good luck, Luke

    • #138345

      anomalocaris
      Participant

      I use an Alexa device. I don’t like the privacy issues but I put up with it, because it’s so good for remembering stuff. I can set a toast timer, or set multiple reminders to keep me moving in the morning. I can even tell it to remember where I put something. I still lose things all the time because I don’t tell it about everything, but an important paper or something I really can’t afford to lose track of, I can just tell Alexa where I put it. Sometimes telling Alexa is enough to set it in my mind, but if not, I can always ask.

      Alexa even has a “nag” app, so it keeps nagging you until the task is done.

  • #136205

    ADHDinPGH
    Participant

    So a lot of these things can be remedied by writing them down and keeping your lists with you. I like to keep sticky notes in multiple rooms in my house and in my car and I always have a pen on me so I can write things down as soon as they pop in my head and I can put the sticky note on the cover or inside a notebook that I carry around.

    Make a checklist for the day on a sticky note and put it on your bag. Start writing the checklist a day ahead and throughout the day or if it’s mostly the same list every day get custom stickies made with your base list on it and room for extra things. DO THIS FOR GROCERY LIST ALSO.

    Fill your water bottle before going to the toilet. Think of the toilet as your reward for filling the bottle. You probably won’t forget to pee between classes.

    As for the timer, for me I need to visually see and interact with the time passing to help me not be distracted. I love using hourglass timers for that because they catch me visually when my mind starts to wander and remind me to stay on task and see how much longer I have left. I’m interested in trying a Time Timer as well …we shall see if Santa thinks I was good this year for that.

    An expensive suggestion for the calendar thing is something along the lines of an Apple Watch. I love mine bc I tell Siri to put it in my calendar right away. I also use it to set timers and alarms. I can set reminders like “turn off coffee maker” too 🙂

    Other things that may help in addition: getting a full and restful night of sleep, drinking enough water, eating enough protein, reducing intake of toxins in foods/skincare/etc (which can cause inflammation in blood-brain barrier), eating foods that support cognitive function, avoiding added sugars and simple carbs, getting more movement into your day even if you’re already active, avoiding marijuana (sorry but the benefits are likely not going to outweigh the issues if you’ve got severe brain fog) and alcohol, getting enough positive social interaction (can increase dopamine!).

    Also, stimulant medication if you’re not on it.

    • #136241

      quietlylost
      Participant

      ^^ Excellent list and suggestions.

  • #136297

    Skypark962
    Participant

    You’re not the only one. Reading your list of to-do’s–I start to feel overwhelmed.
    I started using Asana bc it lets you break bigger tasks into smaller ones & check them off….which is always my big thing–so I feel like I’m actually getting somewhere.
    My biggest problem in the past, was just sticking to an app or lists that work.
    I’m also a BIG FAN of paper….BUT, the asana list lets you add a spouse & assign tasks, which I’ve found has made a big difference in our house. I’ve stopped using it at work (see, I’m bad about this) bc I just have to many tasks to-do…..but, I’ve found it managebable & helpful in my personal life & it’s FREE.

  • #136298

    Skypark962
    Participant

    OK, I’ve got some tools that help me….

    You said Uni, so I assume you’re either from Australia or England..could be wrong, but hopefully you can find these products there

    1. Time Timer–On Amazon (Visually uses a red disk, to display time left/elapsed)
    Time Timer Original 8 inch; 60 Minute Visual Timer – Classroom Or Meeting Countdown Clock for Kids and Adults.

    a. —Tea, when I make food/tea & walk away, I set my microwave timer/kitchen timer, or I’ll COMPLETELY forget about it.

    2. Asana- Time Management App (also lets you add people & msg them/spouse/friends/school project teammates)
    3. Chargers kept on a power strip….then you won’t have to remember to turn off
    4. Invest in an auto-shut off coffee maker

    Don’t be too hard on yourself, you sound like you’re doing alot. I work full-time now & haven’t in 8 years & mostly—I’m damn tired. I need to get more sleep so my meds work better. But, you will find tips/tricks to ease all your to-do tasks & STREAMLINE stuff.

  • #136314

    Penny Williams
    Keymaster

    You are getting some great suggestions. I’m just going to add a couple articles that offer additional strategies.

    Q: How Can I Develop Routines to Keep My Life from Falling Apart?

    “I Misplace at Least One Thing a Day.”

    Penny
    ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

  • #136392

    Reflection
    Participant

    I’m also a very spaced out person and what works best for me is creating patterns. I will write out the pattern (or routine) on a small card and consciously name all the steps in my head while I’m doing them. Plus I tell myself what comes after that. So with tea I tell myself ‘I’m emptying the teapot and then I will put the pot on the counter’, ‘I’ve put the pot on the counter and I’m going to fill the kettle’ etc. After a while these patterns are so ingrained that when I’m lost in my head my body just goes through the motions because following the established pattern is easiest.

    It sucks sometimes to feel so lost when it comes to things that seem to come naturally to other people.

    Btw I switched from a modern electric kettle to one of those old fashioned ones that whistle when the water is boiling. I love tea, and this helped. I’m a huge proponent of trying to find the most helpful equipment / app etc.

  • #138212

    hvhwitaker
    Participant

    Long post – the first 5 numbered items are good habits I’ve trained into myself to make day-to-day functioning easier. The second list of numbered items is my intensive system for Crazy Days, not for the faint of heart.

    Developing routines is often very difficult for me, and many of the systems I’ve developed for the crazy days (especially when I have to be out and about) require so much energy that I can’t do them every day. That said, here are the simple habits I’ve gotten into that help me a lot:

    (1) Make your commonly-misplaced items noisy. For instance, my keys have attachments that jingle. I have a dish in my bedroom for them and a hook on the wall by the door, and the sound helps me remember where they ended up – CLINK means the dish, JINGLE means the hook. (I also hook them to my belt loop and leave them there at all times while I’m out — they jingle when I walk, so I know I have them.)

    (2) Break the habit of setting things down. I always need to wear something with pockets — I wear a sweatshirt or a robe at home if my outfit doesn’t have pockets already — so that when I need my hands free, I’m not tempted to put my phone in the fridge, on a tower of papers, next to the fish tank, in my laundry basket, on an unmade bed…it helps a lot. Phone goes in the pocket, not on the coffee table.

    (3) As quietlylost said, narrate everything you do out loud. “I’m picking up this mug to put it in the kitchen. I’m going to the kitchen to put the mug in the sink. I’m putting the mug in the sink. The mug is in the sink.” / “I’m getting my keys out of my pocket to lock the door. I have my keys in my hand because I’m locking the door. I’m locking the door. The door is locked. I’m putting my keys back on my belt because the door is locked.” This helps me a) remember what I was doing so I don’t wipe my working memory every time I go through a doorway and b) recall when I’ve finished something.

    (4) Keep pens and something to write on everywhere — car, kitchen, bedroom, purse. Shoot, clip a little notebook to your keychain or keep post-it notes in your wallet. Every time you think to yourself, “I’ll remember that,” write it down anyway. (On paper, in a Word Document called “reminders,” in the Notes app on your phone, on your arm — use what’s on hand.) Appointments, things you suddenly remember you’ll need to eventually get from the grocery store, an email you promised to send someone, a birthday. The MOST IMPORTANT HABIT, though, is to COMPILE the second you have a few minutes to spare. Take all your post-its, scribbles on your skin, bullet points in your notes, etc. and put it in your calendar/planner/what-have-you as soon as you get the chance, or this will get very frustrating very quickly as you find yourself losing your notes. (If you remember to carry a planner with you everywhere, you’ll eliminate the middle man and streamline the process — but I know I’m very bad about remembering my planner, hence the many notes-to-self on my arm.)

    (5) Have a go-pack, and tailor it to what works for you. Personally, I can’t carry a purse — things go in and out too often so I can’t remember if my phone/keys/wallet/etc. are in there, and then I tend to leave my bag places. My go-pack is a jacket with a lot of pockets containing the usual purse-clutter: wallet, headphones, chapstick, business cards, keys (if they’re not on the hook, in the dish, or clipped to me), phone (if I’m not holding it), etc. so that once the jacket is on, I have it all with me, and I can pat my pockets as I go through my front-door mantra — if a pocket is empty, I know I don’t have that item and can take a second to look for it. “Phone,” breast pocket, “keys,” right hip, “wallet,” left hip. (“I’m locking the front door now. The door is locked. I’m putting the keys back in my pocket because the door is locked.”)

    Again, these are habits. They take time to develop. Hanging my keys is automatic for me, now. Putting my phone in my pocket instead of setting it down isn’t something I think about anymore, but it took weeks to get there. Never setting down the milk jug (“I’m getting the milk out to put it in my tea, and then I’m gonna put it away. I’m pouring milk in my tea, and then I’m putting it away. I’ve poured the milk, now it’s going back in the fridge. It’s in the fridge. Now I can enjoy my tea.”) took about a month. Brushing my teeth is linked to turning on the shower, even when I’m half asleep. (“Shower’s on, brush your teeth. Shower’s on, brush your teeth.”) I still haven’t figured out how to boil water, steep tea, add cream and sugar, and then finish the cup without forgetting about it somewhere along the way, so I might have to switch back to a stove-top kettle and get a little chess timer that I tap when I pour the water.

    Alright. Buckle up. For my crazy busy days, my process is as follows. (It’s exhausting so I can’t do this every day, but it helps me pretend to be A Functional Adult for 12 hours when I have 12 hours’ worth of responsibilities to get done on a time limit. Then I can recover.)

    (0) In the weeks leading up, I’ve been doing my best to make note of my obligations for Crazy Day. The night before, I block out one to three hours for prep time.

    (1) Sit down with my planner and notes (see no. 4 above). List out all obligations, categorize them, and order them. Some (like appointments) have times built-in — I write these out. Some (like commutes) have set durations. I add time buffers to these. Some (like cooking or getting ready in the morning) have smaller steps — I list these out, too. Write down how much time I think each will take. Add time buffers.

    (2) Write up a final schedule. If I need to be the next town over at 1:00 and it’s a 45-minute drive, I add a buffer and decide I need to leave the house at noon. That’s lunchtime, so I’ll need to eat something in the car on the way. Chores will take two and a half hours (and I have planned, down to the minute, which I will be doing at what time), and I need to run to the store (an hour), so that begins at 8:30. Dog needs to be walked (an hour) and then I need to get ready (35 minutes). Wake up time? 6:45.

    (3) What items will I need to accomplish each of these tasks? Write them down. As I continue prepping through the evening, I write down more as they come to me. Steps 1-3 usually take me over an hour — I’m working my impaired executive functions to the breaking point, so I’ve got to take my time.

    (4) The magic step. I become my own life coach, my own mom, my own butler. I collect up all the items I need for each task and put them in the places I know I’ll be. For instance: dog leash and harness on the floor in front of the door. The clothes I will wear to walk the dog on a chair I leave next to my bed. The dog’s breakfast (already measured and in the bowl) on top of my bath towel and clothes for the day so that I don’t forget to feed her before I shower. Stuff I need for my appointment goes in the car with a post-it note listing off what they are. All ingredients for dinner are sitting on the counter with every bowl and spoon and measuring cup I’ll need, along with a step-by-step ADHD-friendly rewrite of the recipe. I need to wrap this birthday gift before I leave for my appointment at noon but after I buy wrapping paper at the store — tape and scissors inside my cup next to the kettle so I remember to do it while I make tea once I’m back from the store. Make a sandwich to eat in the car on the way to the appointment and put it in the fridge — with my car keys.

    (5) The magic continues — alarms, alarms, alarms. Every task on my schedule gets its own alarm. Any task that’s going to take some transition time — for example, grabbing my sandwich, my jacket, and my keys and getting into the car to drive to my appointment — gets a warning alarm, too. Put descriptions in the alarm. “6:45 – Wake up — you have an hour to walk the dog.” “7:55 – Get in the shower now.” “8:20 – Leave for store in five minutes. Green beans, wrapping paper, dozen eggs.” “8:25 – Leave for store now. Bags already in car.” “11:55 – Don’t forget your sandwich; keys in fridge.” These alarms become my brain for the day.

    (6) Stick to the plan. I carry the schedule with me everywhere. If I forget it, that’s okay — I have my alarms. As soon as they go off, I’m on to the next thing.

    The prep work the night before takes every ounce of my willpower and a huge amount of time, because if I miss something during prep time, it won’t happen the next day. If you take short-acting medication, take it then. This prep night is what makes the whole system work, but it’s very, very taxing, so I can only pull it off a few times a month.

    Thanks for bearing with me. Hope this is helpful!

    • This reply was modified 6 months, 3 weeks ago by  hvhwitaker. Reason: hard to read
  • #138334

    biggrlsdntcry44
    Participant

    I’m so reassured by everybody’s posts. I have used sticky notes forever! And yes, I have written get gas on them at times.
    I once found a pair of socks in my freezer. Fortunately, they were clean. I, too have had the incredibly annoying phenomenon of the disappearing thingie you JUST had in your hand! I was also very relieved to know there are others like me who are wiped out after going to the doctor, socializing with friends, or dealing with convoluted legal issues like negotiating your health care contract, paying the bills… and then we are just drained and it can take up to two or three days to recharge.
    On a brighter note, I liked the suggestion to wear something with pockets so you can keep up with your stuff. I appreciate the input.
    Here are a few things I do that work for me:
    1.I write things down right away as soon as it crosses my mind. My steering wheel is covered in sticky notes.
    2. I put a hair scrunchie and a caliper on my keychain. That way I never set them down when I am out and about. You can’t leave your keys anywhere if they’re tied to your wrist! I use the caliper to attach my keys to the metal fasteners on my purse (which is a cross body bag because I can’t leave it behind if I’m wearing it. Also, I am sure to clip my keys to my purse as soon as I get home. That way there’s no frantic rush searching for my keys.
    3. I am very visual so I paper clip all my appointment cards in my paper planner. Then I transfer that info onto my wall calendar. The final step is I use brightly colored paper and a fat marker and I write the Month, the day of the week, the time, and what the appointment is for. Then I tape them by date on the wall beside my door so that I see the reminders every day. And when I remember, I set the alarm on my watch!

  • #138335

    Samus
    Participant

    It’s definitely not just you! I forget things all the time, and as you said, it’s not just THINGS. I am also the person who will forget what I’m doing in the middle of a task. I find on the days when I have to be super focused it’s worse afterwards. It’s like brain has hit a wall and can no longer function properly, it’s maxed out. Some of the tools I use to help are using Siri or Alexa (I think they were created by people with ADHD because they are just so darn convenient lol), using reminders on my phone (or making lists on my phone) or calendar, and not dismissing them until it’s done. Don’t have time right now, ok fine then it will be snoozed every 30 mins to an hour until it annoys the living daylights out of me so I get mad at the pop up interrupting me and finally do it. I also use timers for small appliances and lights so they turn off and on at the same time every day, that way I can’t forget because the timer does it for me. One other thing I find that works decently (most of the time) is to ask someone to remind me of something, it doesn’t matter if they do or not just the act of saying “don’t let me forget X” will help me remember.

    Good luck! If you ever find a way to not forget what you’re doing while you’re doing it, I would be interested to know.

  • #138351

    Hi! I have gotten so much better with this by being detailed and clear about my inner motivations for being alive. I WANT to stay focussed on my journey and my happiness, and I can, because I am deeply clear about what it is. That has helped me be less fluffheaded. I don’t fuss so much about little things.

    Here is what has really worked to avoid crazy-brain:

    I have forced myself to “chunk” repetitive tasks, especially laundry, kitchen cleanup, home cleaning, and paperwork sorting. Otherwise I will distract myself from work flow or leisure with things like doing a load of laundry and hanging it out, just doing that little bit of tidying here and there, etc.

    I also put my keys and glasses in a difficult, fiddly place – sounds weird, but the act of clipping my keys onto a thingie and putting my reading and sunglasses in a back corner of the shelf acts as a reminder to be consistent. I don’t just throw them down anymore. it really works for me.

    It’s hard to ignore a dirty bathroom for example, but I have learned to do it! It gets done at the right time, as does the laundry, the kitchen counters, the cat hair on the sofa, etc. And I am happier for it.

  • #138729

    suskirshner
    Participant

    My memory is so poor I would never survive in a pre-literate society where I couldn’t write things down. Since “out of sight, out of mind” applies to me, visual reminders are essential. I use a paper planner where EVERYTHING gets written down, including appointments, concerts, visits to be made, reminders to get gas. For appointments I always include the time, address & phone number. Reminder notes to myself on my bathroom mirror and the back of my front door help keep me functioning. For items that repeat, like “Pick up from library” or “from pharmacy,” or “hairdresser – 9:00,” I use index cards. When not in use they live in a pile clipped together on my desk. When I need one, it goes into a clip stuck onto the mirror or onto the back of the front door. I also keep a pen, mini clipboard & paper in my car. If I think of something I have to do, I slip the reminder onto the clipboard & hang it from the rearview mirror on a large S-hook. A small basket hangs on the doorknob on the back of my front door. My keys go in there as soon as I get home. Envelopes to be mailed the next day or small items I need to take with me go into it the night before. Larger items – books, dry cleaning, etc. – go on a table — my landing pad — just inside the front door. When I come home, whatever I’m carrying lands there. After I hang up my coat it gets put away. If I’m running low on a prescription, I leave the bottle out where I can see it as a reminder to call the pharmacy for a refill. At the office or a friend’s house, if I need to take something from the refrigerator home with me, I leave my car keys in the fridge with it so I can’t get far without it. For important deadlines I can’t afford to miss, like paying my taxes or rent, I write a reminder in my planner a week before the due date as well as on the date itself. I try to pay my bills as soon as they arrive, otherwise I’ll likely forget about them—which has happened in the past. Being such a cabbage-head isn’t fun, but I’ve evolved coping strategies that keep me from falling apart at the seams.

  • #138748

    Javid1980
    Participant

    The biggest part of my forgetfulness was remedied once my dose was correct and I was able to apply lifestyle changes….Routines and preparations before hand of all things with enough time. Understanding your personal limitations(bandwidth) and not overwhelming yourself with things you must do in a day will also help.

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