I often hear myself and others say things like
“If I don’t write it down there is no way I’m gonna remember it”
“Please send me an email with this ’cause I will forget about it in a minute.”.
The fact is, that we are all overburdened with an abundance of tasks we need to remember about & manage & carry out. And we have serious problems to remember about things.
The most popular approach to deal with our tasks is to create a system of external memory that would keep all the information about the tasks (and notify us at the right moments) so our brains don’t have to. GTD (Getting Things Done) is a good example here. It requires you to follow a certain process (which consists of a few simple rules only) and in return equips you with a bulletproof way of dealing with tasks. You can implement the GTD with a variety of tools (e.g. simple pen&paper or some sophisticated app) but this is of secondary importance. The promise of GTD is that if you follow the process you will never miss any task.
And that is what I and most of the people I know try to achieve (and some of us get remarkably good at this!). What I observe is that by doing so, by repeatedly NOT trying to remember things but always “outsourcing the remembering” to some external tool, we allow our own memory muscle to wither.
So it seems this is a price we pay for relying on tools. But
“if you don’t use it, you lose it”
and so we lose our natural ability to keep ideas in our head for more than a few seconds. And so it happens, that without our notebooks or smartphones we are helpless.
On the other hand, we all know that our brain power is almost limitless when it comes to remembering. Have you ever seen a show of memory masters power? Similar to professional athletes who train their bodies to the levels unattainable by mere humans they train their brains to that their memory capabilities seem god-like.
So, which option do you choose? Do you follow the “write it all down approach” or do you master your cognitive skills so that you don’t have to carry a grocery list with you when shopping?