For Pete’s Sake…Write it Down!


Have you ever been in this situation? You sit down to begin a project, or simply start the work day and you can’t. You can’t because you have forgotten your password to log in to you workstation or a web application. Can you feel your blood pressure rising as you think about these situations?

IT headaches?

“Why does this happen?” you ask yourself. “I’m an intelligent, smart, well liked person…” you continue. I’m no expert on brain physiology, or shall we discuss at great length the mysteries of the Limbic System – click here for a map. But I have had training in productivity, efficiency, self-care for busy/corporate types of people, etc…

The main issue is not that multiple factors impact and alter our memory and abilities to recall alpha-numeric combinations (as well as tasks such as feeding the cats).  Of course there are many factors that interfere with our ability to store & recall facts, but this isn’t the main cause.

The biggest challenge we face is the misunderstanding of what our brain is designed to do. Parts of it do store memory, control our biological functions, and so on and so forth.

However, I believe our brain/thought processes (TPs) are really designed to be “Idea Machines” not storage vaults. Think about it, if our TPs were really designed to retain and recall all memories we would never walk by a bag of apples, tooth paste or dishwasher liquid in a grocery store only to get home and discover that we needed all of those items. My wife does this all the time because she assumes she will ‘remember” all the needs even if they aren’t written down. So what can be done to minimize this type of frustration?

First step, come to grips with the fact that your mind is an idea machine, not a computer chip with perfect recall. And face it, we are all getting older and the ol’ noodle begins to slip as we age.

Second step, record your data need for easy retrieval at a later time. A saying I learned from a very productive manager was “From the lips to the finger tips.” This serves two purposes. One is that you now have a place to go to when you need to recall and use the recorded information. This is especially helpful for info that is scarcely accessed. The second purpose is that as a company you will always have access to all relevant data regardless of who gathered it and whether or not they are still with your company. This also applies to current employees/managers who may be offsite and unable to give you a password to access a vital piece of information.

So here’s your take away: If you want to remember stuff, WRITE IT DOWN!!


If you would like to learn more about using your mind more efficiently, I recommend these readings:

  1. 5 things that shut down your idea factoryLeary Gates 
  2. ProAxios: Guides for Organizational TransformationJim Bohn PhD.
  3. Plainspoken guidance for those who do the work –  Jim’s Blog




Getting Things Done – The Art of Stress Free Living
– David Allen

David Allen Company





The Power of Full Engagement – Jim Loehr & Tony Scwartz