Excerpted from the book on conscious business management, Business Black Belt
I’m interested only in God’s thoughts, the rest are details.
~ Albert Einstein, physicist
What if you could naturally trigger your memory at a future date or time so you would remember to do something?
This is a little trick I discovered. I call it a situational reminder, a useful tool the next time you need to remember to do or get something, especially if you don’t have a pen and paper handy.
I first used it once when I was driving down the freeway, listening to the radio. I thought, “I’ve got to remember this song because I really want to buy the CD, but I have nothing to write with.” With all the distractions between then and the next time I would make it into a music store (whenever that would be), the title would probably slip my mind completely. So, I thought I would try something.
I pictured myself standing in the music store. I was looking around, actually seeing the CDs and tapes. (It’s tough to do while you’re driving, but it still works.) I experienced myself in the store. And as I did that, I thought, “OK, the next time I’m in this place, I remember the title of this tune and the name of the band who plays it.” I etched in my mind a mental note about this situation.
Sure enough, I just happened to walk into a music store with some friends about three weeks later, having completely lost conscious memory of the CD title—and it struck me. The visual cue of standing in the store and seeing the CDs triggered my memory of the song and the artist’s name. I remembered to buy the CD.
Create a visual association
It’s like having a mental file folder of things to do triggered by an external stimulus—a particular situation where it is relevant to remember. These external stimuli are sure to happen sooner or later (like whenever I would walk into a music store). The action you want to take is generally only necessary in the presence of that stimuli, otherwise it’s unimportant. In other words, the action is only something you would need to remember when the situation was right. The only time I needed to remember a band and a CD was when I was in a music store. Any other time, the memory was useless. So I attached my situational reminder to a situation when I wanted to retrieve the memory.
This trick also works when you need to remember to call someone. I visualize myself looking at my telephone. As I’m looking at my phone, I say to myself, “Remember to call So-and-so.” I visualize the phone and imagine making the call and sometimes even talking to the person. Further, to make it really sink in, I’ll imagine the person’s face and imagine part of our conversation.
It works even if you aren’t consciously trying. I landed at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport recently and suddenly remembered a golf shop there. On a previous trip, our sales VP and I had discovered the golf shop and talked about how bizarre it was to have a golf shop in an airport and the memory stuck. I hadn’t been there in six months and had completely forgotten about the golf shop there. But it came to mind the moment I walked into the airport terminal. I thought, “Hey, I want to get that Callaway putter.”
Easier than programming your VCR
In fact, what you’re doing with this technique is simply programming your subconscious mind. You can naturally do this with anything you need to remember. How do you remember where you parked your car? You naturally look around to get a feel for the parking lot and the position of the car. Your mind will automatically direct you to it when you come back out of the shopping center. You face the parking lot and think, “OK, the car is over there.” If you altogether forget where your car is, you probably weren’t conscious in the first place and didn’t do this process.
Here’s another example: I’m standing in the shower and I realize that I need to remember to bring a diskette from home to the office. I see myself walking into my home office. I picture where the diskette is. There’s the desk, next to the window, the top drawer, and to the right are the blank diskettes in the blue box. I imagine myself grabbing the diskette and taking it with me to the car. I visualize enough surrounding things so that I imagine a complete action. Otherwise, I might remember to pick up the diskette only to set it down on the kitchen table and leave it there.
Put things with your car keys
When I need to remember to take something with me, I’ll simply put my car keys with it. I’ll pile everything that I need to take in one place along with my car keys so there’s no way I’ll forget them when I leave (which is often in a hurry—or when I’m preoccupied with a new thought).
Other suggestions offered in this book can easily be remembered by using this same situational reminder technique. When you get more ideas, remember to incorporate this technique so you’ll apply the ideas when the right situation occurs.
Business Black Belt Notes
- When you think of something you need to remember, visualize yourself being in the place when and where you’ll need to remember it.
- While seeing certain key things, say to yourself, “Remember ______.”
- “The next time I look at the telephone, I’ll remember to call John.”
- Include as much detail as possible and imagine a completed action.
- Imagine for a moment that you need to remember something and apply this technique.