Forgetting things more often lately?
You look up something on the internet and suddenly remember “Oh, I forgot. I have to make my airport shuttle reservation.” Or you need to remind a team member that you need an answer on your project by 2 p.m. Do you stay with what you’re working on? Move to the new task? And how do you keep track of where you were anyway?
Your mind has just distracted you and interrupted your train of thought. And it’s downhill from there. You go off to make that shuttle reservation, finish it, and return to what you were doing originally and this happens: “Now, where was I? What was I doing?”
“…. we’re becoming a nation of technology-induced ADHD,”Shawne Diaz, MA, LCMHC, Elliot Behavioral Health Services (quoted in Parenting NH magazine.)
The key is to let things register. Calm, focus, and attention are the legs. When things register better, you’re allowing your mind to imprint memories and there’s less forgetting.
If this distractibility usually happens when you’re on your device or at the computer, put post it notes or a notepad nearby. [It needs to be on paper.] Write down your mini plan: What do you need to look up? Then keep that in front of you as a way to stay focused, as a touchstone, if you feel your mind starting to wander. You won’t be forgetting where you were as often.
Support yourself even more by using your timer to limit your time, and also to enhance your awareness of time passing. Those times when you think you “just sat down,” but a couple of hours actually passed.
Pause to register
Self-talk works. Back away from the pc for a minute or fold your arms, just to get in a pause. Ask yourself what you meant to work on and where you are now. Ask yourself what you need to write down to remember.
A pause gives you the chance to register what you are doing. If you’re mind is bouncing around, nothing will stick in your memory. A pause also allows you to make a choice whether you’ll continue down the path you’re on. The timer works for this, too.
Declutter your mind
Your mind may be too full with “to do’s” flying around everywhere. As one client said, it’s a “swirling dervish.”
Or your mind is ruminating over some emotional, difficult or stressful situation happening in your life. It happens in the forefront of your mind, but it also eats away at your attention behind the scenes. Forgetting things is rampant and you can’t figure out why; that’s your clue here.
With the “to do’s” make a list of everything swirling around in your head. Put it away for about an hour, and come back to it when you’re feeling ready to organize and prioritize.
The problem here is that you’ve got too much cluttering your mind to “think straight.” Forgetting is a symptom, so empty some space and more will register.
The emotional ruminating has a few solutions. Write in a journal or write morning pages for a few days. Talk to a therapist or close friend to process what’s happening and how you’ll solve the situation. Run, walk, yoga – movement helps shake up things to think more clearly. If you are pushing for a solution, back off and figure out how to collaborate instead of push [resistance is stress]. Focus on solving the difficult situation foremost, and you’ll feel your mind more at ease.
If you put off dealing with the difficult situation, it’ll be like a wild river running through your mind, disrupting your ability to think until it’s calmed down. Take one, small step, anything to give you some forward motion, and you’ll feel more in control.
Sometimes, this is a bigger issue and especially so if you’ve had some big life events or changes lately. You probably need a little life reorganization.
One small way to start: Whitespace or“margin” are the breaks and breathers during your day.
As we age, it gets harder to do as much as we could when we were in our 20’s or 30’s, but we don’t want to admit that, so we keep pushing. Be kind to yourself and slow down a little bit.
If you need support to get into this habit, use calendar reminders which say “Take a break. 10 minutes to calm.” Or something that engages your senses. It is important to name the reminder or timer so that the words help jolt you out of what you are doing; sometimes a noise won’t do enough.
Take more breaks, small ones, to refresh your brain. Pulling an “all day-er” like an all nighter will drain your energy and make you wonder what’s happening to your memory.
Usually, when people do yoga, take a run or a walk, they find their mind is refreshed. It’s partly because of the brain’s chemicals and it’s partly because we are allowing ourselves to focus on just one thing. Sounds peaceful, doesn’t it. The one thing you focus on might be your yoga posture, or it might be a problem you are tryin gto solve. Some people tell me that it’s when they are driving the car that their mind feels calmer and more focused.
Sleep, hormones, routines
Routines or rituals standardize parts of your day and because they are habitual, it means your mind does not have to work hard. They just happen. think about what else you could routine-ize in your days, so that you’re offloading the work your mind is doing.
Sleep refreshes our minds.
Create a slow down routine at night so you get to sleep and get enough sleep. If you think you have sleep apnia, get checked so you can figure out a next step and get back to being you.
Getting enough sleep will allow your mind to work at its best, pay attention when you need it to, and will help with executive functions (ADHD or not). Fixing sleep issues is the #1 issue to start with.
Device time outs
Technology and devices: Many companies and families are having device “time out” days.
It’s a way to slow down your mind, allowing more to register which means more gets into your memory banks.
Try these solutions. If you’re still not finding one that works for you, consider working with me to figure out your own habits and how to make them stick. If you’re looking for ideas, that can be a simple one hour meeting. If you’re wanting habits, accountability or coaching around what’s happening and what you need, that’s typically a few months’ work together. [Client testimonials here.]