Getting Things Done

“Ohh, I Forgot”

Timing is everything when it comes to remembering plans and tasks. Let these tips jog your memory at just the right moment to get things done.

Man forgetting something important

You’re in the shower, and you remember that you need to return your friend’s DVD to him that evening. By the time evening rolls around, you have a million things on your mind — and the DVD isn’t one of them. Or you’re at work, and realize you need to check the battery size of your daughter’s electronic game. You write yourself a note about it. But when you get home, you have to take the dog to the vet, so the battery is forgotten while you tend to your furry friend.

Remembering to remember is tough for people with ADHD. The key to success is getting the timing right. You need to remind yourself to do a task at a time and place where you can complete it. Here are my tips for turning “I forgot” into “Did it already.”

Location, location, location. Place an item in a spot that will be its own reminder. If you realize tonight that you need to take an umbrella tomorrow, place it in front of the door, so you can’t leave home without tripping over it.

[Self-Test: Could You Have a Working Memory Deficit?]

Voicemail or e-mail yourself. Call your home voicemail from work to remind yourself to do something at home, or vice versa. Or send an e-mail to your work account while at home or from your phone while out doing errands. You’ll see the reminder at the place where you can act on it.

Leave notes at the site of the task. Some tasks must be done at specific locations, such as the file cabinet at work or the kitty litter box at home. Tape up a note in those places to remind yourself to act on the task.

Tie a string around your finger (sort of). Use an out-of-place item as a reminder. Choose something that is odd, random, or out of place enough to catch your attention later and trigger what you need to do. The item shouldn’t have a relationship to the task: Turn a chair upside down to remind you to go the bank.

Deliver on e-mails. To remember to send a new e-mail, start it by typing in the recipient and subject line. When I get an e-mail that I need to read later, I click “Reply” immediately. I don’t need to remember to answer it because it’s already sitting open on my computer.

[Say Goodbye To “Oh I Forgot”]

Excerpted from Understand Your Brain, Get More Done, by ARI TUCKMAN, Psy.D. Specialty Press. Copyright 2012.