I used to have a problem about forgetting things. I would think of things I needed to remember later, and I’d repeat them over and over until I thought they were there for good. Unfortunately, by the end of the day my mind would be tremendously cluttered up with all the things I was repeating, and still I would have forgotten half of them. Special events would pass, and I wouldn’t remember until afterward, when it was too late. I’d get home from the grocery store, and realize I’d forgotten the one thing I’d been telling myself not to forget. It was frustrating.
It’s a pain to have to write things down, and often when you think of something you need to remember, you either don’t have a pen handy, or there’s nothing to write on, or you can’t be bothered to dig it all out of your purse. What most people don’t realize is that there’s a much easier way, using one of the most powerful tools that already exists in most modern mobile phones: a voice recorder. Making voice notes into your phone is faster than writing or typing them, and it’s an efficient way to get a lot of information stored in the simplest manner possible. You can make notes now and play them back at your leisure, whenever you need to be reminded about something. It’s easy to do on the go, as well.
Even if your cell phone doesn’t have a voice recorder (but check your user’s manual to make sure — sometimes it can be buried deep within the menus), at any office supply store you can buy a simple machine that makes digital recordings on a memory card. As it turns out, both my mobile phone and my PDA have voice recorders, but once I discovered how useful audio notes were, I went ahead and bought a dedicated digital recorder anyway. They’re not expensive at all (especially if you get a used one off an auction site), and they’re really tiny and easy to use. You can even attach one to your key ring. Personally, I stick mine in my pocket, and if there’s anything I need to remember, all it takes is one second to push the button and “jot” it down as a memo. Sometimes at the end of a busy day I’ll have more than twenty voice memos, most of which are things I would have had no hope of remembering otherwise. I use my recorder for everything from shopping list items to remembering the names of people I just met. It’s a godsend.
The only trick is getting used to making notes that you will understand later. When I first started using my recorder, sometimes I’d come home to find notes where I’d said something like, “Take those things to the other building,” and I’d think, What on earth was that about? Eventually though, I learned how to make my notes short without turning them into nonsense, and these days I’m quite an expert at getting something meaningful recorded in as few words as possible.
It can be a little weird at first, hearing your own voice being played back to you, but as the utility of the method starts making your life easier, you’ll get used to the sound of your voice, and after a while you won’t even notice anymore. Having a voice recorder has helped me remember birthdays, phone numbers, names, and a whole host of other things that I would have forgotten otherwise. It’s the most indispensable gadget in my arsenal, and I encourage you to try the one in your phone, and see if it doesn’t make a significant difference in how smoothly your day runs.