Magazine article Management Today

Remember When You Didn't Forget?

Magazine article Management Today

Remember When You Didn't Forget?

Article excerpt

You can't change the total power of your memory, but it can be trainee with simple steps that can ease its burden and make forgetfulness a thing of the past

We've all heard the joke: 'My memory is so dreadful that I decided to buy myself one of those 'How to Improve Your Memory' books. But when I got it home, I discovered I had already bought it some time before - and now I can't seem to remember whether I've read it or not .'

It would be funnier if it were not so scary. Most of us are forgetful and, in management, forgetfulness can equal disaster. Worse still, as time progresses, things get worse. If you hope there will be fewer things to remember as you climb the greasy pole and reach the upper echelons of management - forget it (pardon the pun).

Our learning ability declines from our teens and early twenties onwards, and our memories start to lose their edge in our early forties. So, as the volume of data that managers need to master nowadays never stops increasing, the capacity of their memories to deal with it is steadily decreasing.

Here is a simple memory test, which, if your memory is as lousy as mine, will doubtless depress you deeply. Do you sometimes ask people to return telephone calls and then forget why you called them? Do you sometimes forget exactly where you parked your car? Do you forget birthdays, anniversaries, important business meetings or other special occasions? Do you leave your desk and then have to return for something that you forgot? Do you - like the book-buyer in the joke - repeat things because you forgot you had done them already, or buy things that you already have? Do you put things in wrong places - keys in the refrigerator, for instance, or the milk in the cupboard?

If you never make any of these gaffes, congratulations. Your memory is superhuman - and you can stop reading now. But I'll bet every important document I've ever mislaid to a knot in your handkerchief that fewer than 1% of readers passed with flying colours. The remaining 99% occasionally (or frequently) suffer from some (or many) of the absent-minded boo-boos listed. That is the only reassuring thing about forgetfulness: you are certainly not alone. Nobody is immune, and it cannot be cured.

It can, however, be minimised. Although you cannot literally change the total power of your memory, you can train it to be more effective, the way young actors do when they learn how to memorise their lines.

First, take the strain off your brain by devising simple routines which will mean remembering one thing instead of many. That is the basic purpose of diaries and work lists: you merely have to remember to look at them, then your eyes take over from your memory. …

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