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Quitting the Chaos: How to Not Forget Things at Work

Oct 28, 2020
(updated: Dec 5, 2022)
Max 5 min read

Forgetfulness is one of those frustrating problems that make any job more difficult, though it may be worse when you’re a freelancer. You have far more to keep track of because you’re doing your work on top of running a business. Plus, you don’t have a boss to make sure you’re hitting your deadlines. By the time your client sends a reminder, you’ve probably lost some credibility with them. 

We all struggle with forgetfulness from time to time. The good news is that learning how to not forget things is just a matter of adopting a few easy habits.

Set Up a Dedicated Work Zone

When your brain stashes information in your memory, it’s not just storing the information you want to keep. It’s also storing any other information it was perceiving at the same time like sensory data (smells, feelings, sounds) and pictures of your surroundings. Since that other data is linked to the memory itself, you’re more likely to recall the memory if you re-create the circumstances from when you were forming the memory. 

For that reason, it helps to have a dedicated workspace set up. If you work from home like most freelancers, that could be a desk or area in your home that you exclusively use for work. If you don’t have that option, at least have a set of notebooks, planners, and other accessories you always have around you while you work.

This way, when you’re trying to remember something, you’re probably in the same visual environment you were in when you first took in that information so you’re more likely to find the memory. Bonus tip: this is a great strategy for how not to forget things easily but a dedicated workspace also gives you loads of tax deductions!

Have a Centralized Task Organization Zone

One of the worst things to forget is an assignment, task, or deadline from a client because it could cost you valuable business. That’s why you need a singular, centralized to-do list you can access from anywhere so all your tasks are in one place. 

As you’re on a call with a client or you’re reading through client emails, take notes directly in this task tracker. Then you can parse them out into individual tasks on the to-do list later.

Task-tracking software is ideal for this because you can access it from anywhere you are (as opposed to having a physical list you might leave at home). Plus, you can consistently add details and reminders to each task in addition to re-arranging your tasks based on your priorities.

Use Your Emails Actively, Not Passively

You probably have emails rolling in all day every day, and if you’re like me, you might flip through them passively as a distraction while you’re working on other projects. The problem is that when you aren’t giving those emails your full attention, it’s easy to miss a new deadline or assignment.

Instead, set dedicated time in your daily schedule to go through your emails and other communications with clients. Turn off the email notifications on your phone or make a point not to check emails while you’re in the middle of other tasks.

By giving more active focus to your emails, you can take the time to add any new tasks or notes from those emails to your to-do list. Even on the chance that you forget to add a task to your list, you’re more likely to remember it if you’re paying closer attention when you read it.

Stick to Written Communication When Possible

When it comes to learning how to stop being so forgetful, the fact is that we’ll all forget things from time to time no matter how many strategies we use. It’s always best to have a back-up.

Try to communicate through written means whenever possible, like emailing, texting, and chatting with clients. This way, if you forget some of the details of the discussion, you can always go back and check. The problem with a phone call is that when it’s done, that data is gone.

Of course, there will be times when a call or meeting is necessary. Adopt a habit of taking detailed notes in those cases. It’s a good idea to let your client know that you’re taking notes so they’ll excuse any pauses or background noise as you type.

How to Not Forget Things While Working

We’ve all had days of asking, “How do I stop forgetting things?” or even “What’s wrong with me that I can’t retain anything?” There’s probably nothing wrong with you. You’re just a busy person who has too many things running through their mind at any given time to pause and truly process information.

The trick for how to solve the problem of forgetting is all about mastering the right strategies so you don’t have to rely on your memory. Along with the tips above, take care of yourself with plenty of sleep and stress management and you’ll have your days running like a well-oiled machine in no time.

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