10 Ways to Stop Forgetting Things & Get More Done

You forgot that thing you were supposed to do for your boss.

And that favor your were going to do for a friend.

Or even to pay that bill that was due.

Is “forgetting” one of the main reasons you don’t get things done?

How good are you at remembering what you need to do?

Don’t Say You Forgot

The second worst time management excuse, behind “I don’t have time,” is…

“I was going to do it… But, I forgot.”

Are you guilty of saying that you are going to do something and then don’t because you forgot?

Forgetting is not an excuse, it is a root cause of your productivity issues.

Whether it is todos, appointments, obligations, or bills… forgotten tasks often cause more work down the road.

10 Ways to Stop Forgetting

We all want to stay on top of our tasks and obligations.

What we need are good habits and strategies to remember what we need to do.

Here are 10 Ways to Stop Forgetting & Get More Done:

  1. Set an Alarm – We all have alarm clocks on our phones, yet few of us use them. Setting an alarm is the simplest way to remind yourself. Need to call that customer back by end of day? Set your alarm for 5PM. A simple alarm is the down and dirty way to jog your memory.
  2. Put it On Your Calendar – Calendars are often underutilized. Don’t just make appointments for meetings, but also for tasks that you need to do. This not only reminds you, but has the added benefit of allotting time to get the work done.
  3. Write it Down (on Your Todo List) – What do you put on your todo list? Many people only write down the big things. Ironically, the big things are usually pretty easy to remember. It is the small ones that you need to write down. Put it on your list… that is what it is for.
  4. Set a Reminder – Alarms are great for one-offs. However, for regular or repeating tasks go ahead and set a reminder. For example, I have a reminder on my iPhone that goes off every Wednesday at 7AM to tell me to put the trash out. 9 times out of 10, I have already put it out. But, the few times I hadn’t… it worked like a charm. (BTW, Siri makes it very easy to do this.)
  5. Do It Now, So You Don’t Have to Remember Later – This one sounds like cheating, but the best way to avoid forgetting a task is to do it immediately. When appropriate, do small tasks right then and there. If it is only going to take a few seconds or minutes… Just Do It Now.
  6. Have Someone Else Remind You – A little accountability goes a long way. Have a family member, friend, or even co-worker hold you to performing a certain task. (BTW, kids are very good at this… my 8-year old son reminds me of things I “said I was going to do” all the time…)
  7. Put It On Automatic – One of my favorite ways to avoid forgetting tasks is to put them on automatic. Set and forget. This works great with AutoPay for bills. Get creative, you will be surprised how many things you can automate. For example, every six months Amazon automatically sends me a new water filter for my fridge. I don’t have to remember or even go out and get one.
  8. Don’t Say Yes In The First Place – Want to avoid forgetting that favor that you promised? Or that extra task you agreed to take on? One of the best methods is to say “No” in the first place. If you are overloaded with your own work, don’t agree to take on more. You are just setting yourself up to disappoint others.
  9. Have Someone Else Do It – If you can’t do it, delegate appropriate tasks. However, just remember that when you delegate, you still have to remember to follow-up. After all, you can delegate the doing of the task, but not the accountability.
  10. Use Your List! – Your todo list should be your best friend. It should remember so that you don’t have to. If you are following rule #3, then your list will have your back. When your list reminds you of something you forgot, you know it’s working.

Remember Your Work

Don’t let your memory be an excuse for not getting things done.

With discipline and a few strategies, nothing will slip by you.

In fact, you’ll start to scare people with how on top of things you are.

Now excuse me, I have to go look at my todo list…

Question: How do you remember your important tasks?

38 thoughts on “10 Ways to Stop Forgetting Things & Get More Done

  1. Content creation is something that often never finds its way into the urgent quadrant. 4, 6 and 7 work well together if you have a content creation partner.

  2. I especially like #3. I have ADHD and I absolutely MUST write down big things AND small things – no task goes unmentioned on the list or it will be forgotten! But most people think it’s a waste of time to write anything on the list except the big things. You know what? Bottom line is that you have to do what works for you. And probably most people could benefit from including small things, too.

    1. @HomemakersDaily Thanks.

      Yes, the irony is that most of the “big things” are in our face all day long.

      It’s the little things that often slip by. 🙂

  3. One thing I would like to do more is ‘Do it now!’ This is often the best strategy for things that you think are too small or insignificant to put on your to do list, or those things you are sure you will remember (take it from me, you won’t!). Otherwise, I agree, my to do list is my best friend and it is the only way I can operate – plus it is great to see all those items crossed off when they are done!

    1. @Abbie Allen Love it! Feels great crossing things off your list.

      Ever add something to your list “after” the fact… just so you can cross it off?? 🙂

  4. Great post Craig!

    I agree, the “forget” excuses are ridiculous as are the “no time.”

    Your tips are easy to use, and simple.

    Just like I like it.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. Thanks Craig! Number 5 is my favourite – just do the task now before I forget — I like the Dave Allen idea here: if it takes two minutes or less just do it now and move on.

    I have two other methods for remembering tasks: holding my finger in the air, if I think of something while away from pen and paper / computer, which is far from foolproof; and just working hard to keep it all in my head. Neither of these come recommended and imply that I should concentrate more on some of your ideas here.

  6. One-time, Do-it-now, Automate, Delegate…that’s my run down on to-do lists and getting things done.

    The most powerful tool for me is the DND button on my landline.

  7. Craig,

    I hate to admit but this just happened to me … However, I forgot to put the alert to my cell phone … 🙂

    That’s why I feel that combining points 1 and 5 is important: Normally I put down a notification to my cell phone as soon as the conversation has ended or update my calendar as soon as I know I have an appointment coming.

    The key here is to do it immediately … without any delays. Update that calendar application or set the alert to your mobile phone – as quickly as possible.



  8. I am forgetting things a lot worse now i cant even remember how to shoot it is getting worse sometimes ,somtimes i remember every thing

  9. Timemanagementninja. If I remember you use Wunderlist for your Todo’s. Question? When you move a task from the inbox, do you always have to put it in a list that you have started. I don’t see anywhere else to move it to. So I created a list for tasks that really do not need to be assigned, called “daily tasks”, but this seems like extra steps to process a tasks. I hope it makes sense what I am asking. Thanks!

  10. All great suggestions of which many I practice. But in the last few months I have found myself in embarssing situations where I have been forgeting my cell phone at work and missing important calls. I can make nice excuses for myself like family matters, pending house move, changes at work etc. But, the fact remains that it is my fault and it makes me angry at myself. I will now try putting an alert on my cell as I do with my wake-up alarm (#4) near the end of my working day. Thanks to all.

  11. As a person who is genulinely trying to solve some maginal memory issues, I find this article to be condescending, and pretty much useless. Yes, I know I’ve got to write it down, or handle the task once and do it on the spot. The language is judgemental and harsh, and the tips pretty obvious. Sorry, not impressed.

  12. I forget what i did five minutes ago or yesterday ;-; lol i used to remember these things easily..

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