I have the memory of a goldfish.
As a result, most of my adult life has been spent trying to find ways to “outsource” my brain to more trustworthy places to store information. In college, I’d be the one whose notes everyone copied. At work, I was always the one furiously typing notes in meetings. And today, I’m the nerd with a blog about documenting & systematizing processes.
Eventually, I noticed something strange: instead of being the one who always forgot everything, I was the only one who remembered.
“What were our action items from yesterday’s meeting?”
“Let me check my notes – here they are!”
“What was our address when we lived on Harvey street in San Francisco?”
“Hold on – yep, I have it right here.”
My biggest shortcoming (my awful memory) had somehow became my super power.
Since I learned to delegate my memory elsewhere – to computers that could “remember” much more than any human – I suddenly had the best memory of all.
Tools for “Delegating” your Memory
I bet you already delegate your memory in more ways than you already know:
- Do you bother remembering exactly how much your assets were depreciated last year? Nope. I bet you delegated that “memory” to your accountant.
- Do you remember when your car is due for its next oil change? I doubt it! It’s probably on a sticker on your windshield.
- What about the date of your next dentist appointment? I highly doubt you have it memorized – you’re probably counting on your dentist to call you, and / or you’ve written it down in your calendar or planner.
If I can’t trust myself to remember my next dentist appointment, I’m certainly not going to trust my memory when it comes to remembering exactly how I run my business! Instead, I leverage a couple key tools to help me remember what’s important.
Remembering what I need to do:
Most folks use task managers to monitor their to-do’s. I like to use the tools below because they allow me to add much more detail than just a one-line description of a task.
Meetings & any Tasks at a certain time: Google Calendar
If a task must happen at a certain time (and not too soon or too late), I treat it like a meeting and put it on my personal or business Google Calendar. I have a separate “Tasks” calendar set up for each so I don’t confuse tasks for meetings. I also have Google Calendar set to send me all sorts of reminders, so I won’t forget!
I also like Google Calendar because it lets me add more detail. If it’s a hotel reservation, I’ll attach a PDF of my confirmation email. If it’s a phone call, I’ll include the person’s name, phone number, and the goal of the phone call. (I may also include a link to their Insightly profile – see below!)
All other tasks: Asana
I have one Organization in Workspace where ALL of my personal and business tasks live. I have created separate teams for each business – like A Bar Above vs. EffortlessWorkflow, and another separate team for “Personal”. This way I have ONE task list for all of my tasks, but they are organized in a way that makes sense and isn’t overwhelming.
Notes: Google Documents
For a while I used Evernote for some of my notes and Google Documents for others. But this meant I had to remember which information I’d stored in which place and, well, you can guess how well that went. So since I prefer browser based apps, I chose Google Documents and haven’t looked back. For folks who prefer a downloadable program, Evernote may be a better option.
Documents & Receipts: [eafl id=502 name=”Dropbox” text=”Dropbox*”] or [eafl id=495 name=”Copy.com” text=”Copy.com*”]
The only reason I use two different services is that I simply ran out of space in my Dropbox and Copy.com provides a lot more for free. So I use Dropbox for personal documents and receipts and Copy.com for business-related.
No memory? Good luck with Passwords. I was constantly resetting passwords (or worse, having the same few passwords for everything) before getting Lastpass. Now I only need to remember one – and trust me, it’s a doozy!
Bonus points: Lastpass lets me share my passwords with our VA in a way that she doesn’t actually see the password. This means I can give her access to the sites she needs to do her job, but if anything goes wrong I can revoke access immediately.
What is my cousin’s daughter’s name again? What’s my sister-in-law’s address? When’s the last time I spoke with that guy who bought our course?
When it comes to people, the best way to keep track is to use a CRM. In short, a CRM (“Customer Relationship Manager”) is a glorified contacts database that helps you keep track of WHO you interacted with, when you interact with them and if / when you want to follow up in the future.
Before I forget …
(Pun intended) I did want to close with a tiny bit of advice. Just like delegating any other task, delegating your memory isn’t foolproof. Just like delegating to another person, it won’t work well unless you establish a consistent and repeatable system that you trust. And even though it may be tempting to spend weeks looking for the perfect tool, in reality the most important thing when it comes to leveraging technology to help you remember things is not the tool. It’s the fact that you use it consistently and grow to trust it.
As my good friend Lilli Weisz from Simplified Life explained to me:
A system is only good if you trust it. No app is going to have that trust built in on day one. Just find one that’s good enough, give it time and energy, use it 100% and build that trust.
So as weird as it sounds, I’m actually kind of grateful for my awful memory, as it’s forced me to learn a far better way of organizing my information. And if you’re in the same boat – or even if you have a great memory – I’d say embrace your inner Goldfish!
Find a system to trust for your information and you’ll have superhuman memory powers as well.