How to stop forgetting to action important tasks

There’s so much information nowadays that it’s unrealistic to expect that we’ll remember everything. For the small things that maybe not that big of a deal but for important work it’s unacceptable to forget when we have access to tools that could prevent this from happening.

Regardless of how good we believe our memory to be, the odds are stacked against us. According to the Forgetting Curve the percentage of new information we forget in:

  • 1 hour is 50%
  • 1 day is 70%
  • 1 week is 90%

We forget in part because we’re time poor, struggle with information overload and juggle multiple priorities that can have conflicting timelines. This detracts from our ability to maintain absolute clarity. The ramifications are we either miss deadlines, remember at the last minute and compromise quality by rushing the delivery, or are perceived poorly by our boss, peers, customers, friends or family. We might remember we need to do something but the problem is it’s either too late to action or it’s at inappropriate times (like 2am when we’re meant to be sleeping).  

At work, there’ll be plans we need to execute and tasks we need to action. It’s these inputs that drive our job performance. Instead of just relying on memory for what we need to do, we need an approach to scheduling these activities.

If you use email at work, a tool within email programs is the email calendar and task functionality (available in most email applications). This is a good place to schedule what you’ll do by date and time. The old-school way is writing it down in a diary or within a notebook, but I prefer the digital approach as it’s easy to update, will never be lost and is generally available via multiple devices (laptop, tablet, phone etc).

By using the tools available you’ll stop wasting time, overtaxing your brain unnecessarily and reduce the risk of forgetting to action important tasks. The best techniques are simple – you just need build the discipline into your rhythm.