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Tips to help serve your memory well

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DO YOU SOMETIMES have trouble remembering what you need to do and when to do it? If the string tied to your finger hasn’t helped, and you are weary of writing notes on your hand, consider the following:

Write it down
There is a saying, “On paper, off your mind.” The act of writing things down can free your mind from mental clutter, and help you avoid nagging “what am I forgetting?” anxieties. It removes the pressure of having to remember everything. Even the dullest pencil is sharper than the sharpest mind. Time/Design says it this way: “If you think it, ink it.”

Itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny scraps
Those little pieces of paper floating around the car, house and office will sabotage your mental recall efforts, because they are so easily lost. Writing things down on one big list (a lined yellow pad, for example) will help you avoid searching for scattered notes. My friend Lynn relies heavily on her calendar/planner to keep track of details, deadlines and communications.

Set a timer
I learned this from my sister-in-law, Kristen. She wears a watch with a timer and sets it at various times during the day to remind herself when to leave for an appointment or make an important call.

Use “sticky” notes sparingly
Post-its are used with such enthusiasm, no wonder it’s 3M’s most successful product. Unfortunately, they tend to multiply and, when overly used, don’t convey a sense of importance. Use a list — it’s easier to read that than 25 separate sticky notes randomly posted. One exception: A sticky posted at the door reminding you to pick up your daughter’s teammate on the way to the game can be effective.

Call yourself
If you are away from your home or office and want to remember to do something when you get there, call and leave yourself a message. Or e-mail reminders to yourself.

Record it
Remember the movie “Nightshift”? The main character played by Michael Keaton called himself an “idea man.” He carried a small recorder to make a “note to self.” Not a bad idea for those of you who are gadget-minded.

Make it routine
Rather than worry about getting something done, establish a specific day or time that you will handle it. For example, one person pays bills on Sunday nights; another picks up shirts at the laundry on Saturdays. Routines can be comforting and free your mind from the small stuff.

Self care
Maintaining healthy habits can help you stay sharp. A Spanish proverb says, “A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools.” Adequate rest, exercise and good nutrition are your tools for a stronger memory.

I can, I can, I can
Stop thinking in negatives. Focus on what you want to do, rather than what you don’t want to do. Don’t put yourself down for supposed “senior moments.” Picture yourself organized and all-aware. Making positive affirmations is a key to improving your memory.