Help For a Bad Memory

bad memory

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A bad memory can be a pain. If you are over “a certain age”, then like me you probably spend some time each day wandering around the house muttering, “Where did I put [fill in the blank]?” And, if you’re anything like me, then the whole process makes you more than a little grumpy.

No, you have not lost your marbles, even though you might have put them in a safe place and for the moment just can’t remember where that was. It’s just that, as we get older, our minds contain more and more stuff. As with papers on the kitchen table, sometimes one lot of stuff gets other stuff piled on top of it, and you have to dig a bit to find the original stuff. At least, that’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it!

There are a few little tricks that can be considerable help in overcoming – or at least side-stepping – the problem of forgetfulness. The first two I have used for quite a while, and the second I am in the process of implementing.


Trick number 1 is to be conscious of the things you are doing. As you turn off the stove, tell yourself, “I have turned off the stove.” It will stick, and you won’t find yourself later (usually on your way driving somewhere) thinking, “did I turn the stove off?” Likewise, when you put something down tell yourself, “I put [item] in the [place].” This might seem a little strange at first, but you will quickly get used to it and it will become second nature.


The second trick applies to the things you use all the time, and is simply consistency. Have a place where each thing is kept, and be sure you return it to that place every time you use it. For instance, my car keys, driving glasses and sunnies all happily co-habit on the top of my bookcase. I don’t have to think about “where did I put the car keys?” As long as I consistently put them back in their spot each time I return home, I can always find them at a moment’s notice.

Glasses can be a bit more tricky, because like most people I tend to leave them where I take them off after a particular task. In my case, this really only amounts to three places: beside the computer (where it seems I spend 90% of my waking life), at the kitchen table (where I read anything that is not on the computer) or beside my arm chair (where I knit or crochet.) However, if you are regularly using your glasses in many different places, I suggest you pick one central position and make sure you return them there every time you take them off.

Then there’s the much more challenging problem of the things you use only once in a blue moon. You receive something that you know will be important and useful “some day”, and you put it away in a “safe place” where you are absolutely sure that you will be able to find it when it is needed.

Time passes, life happens, and somewhere down the track you need just that thing … but o dear, where was that safe place where you put it?


The solution is as simple as a cheap address book. Get a decent sized one, not a squidgy little one. Every time you put something away safely, enter the location where you have stored it into your address book: Birth certificate, filing cabinet, second drawer; Mum’s chocolate cake recipe, kitchen, bottom drawer (you might want to enter that one under C for Chocolate Cake, rather than M for Mum, just to make it easier.)

As you have time to spare, you can then go through your various drawers and hidey-holes and catalog the things you have previously put away safely in your address book.

Then, instead of wandering through the house muttering “Where is it?” and berating yourself for your stupidity, you can simply look up your address book catalog to find whatever it is you need.

Oh, and don’t put the address book away in a “safe place.” Glue a magnet to its back and stick it on the front of your fridge so that you will always be able to find it easily.

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