Creating a 'remembrall'

Those of you familiar with Harry Potter may remember the "remembrall" that one of Harry's forgetful classmates received to help remind him that he had forgotten something. Such an invention could come in handy for those days when the number of important tasks you need to remember exceeds your brain's shelf space. But really a remembrall would be much more helpful if it told you what you forgot.

Luckily, I read about just such an idea for a remembrall in, of all places, a book my son brought home from school called "How to do Your Homework Without Throwing Up". One of the reasons we forget some things is that our brains are designed to be highly efficient. In order to stay that way, we learn to ignore things that do not need our attention. That is why the very important memo that you put on your desk to remember to get done today is easily ignored and thus forgotten.

Even putting the memo on your chair may not help if that has become a common strategy for you. Instead, try doing something so out of context that your brain turns on again just looking at it. For example, put your field boot on top of the memo, or the waste paper basket, or move your telephone onto it. Or, instead of adding yet another tiny sticky note to the edge of your computer with a "to do" item, write what you need to remember to do on a full size, bright green piece of paper and tape it right across your monitor. This technique also works well for those items that you remember you need to do, but don't really want to. If you don't move the smelly shoe until you have done the task under it, you may just stop procrastinating!

Karen Bolda, M.A., is a meeting facilitator and professional development trainer. She's lived in Ashland for 13 years where she operates her own consulting business. Visit her website at or contact her at

Share This Story