I can remember as a child being in constant trouble because of my forgetfulness. I forgot assignments, I forgot chores, and I forgot why I walked in a room as soon as I got in there. It wasn’t until I became an adult and learned about ADHD that I realized my forgetfulness is a part of my ADHD diagnosis, and not some terrible character flaw of mine.
Through the years I have become better at remembering things and I came to share some of the things I do to help me remember what is coming up on my schedule or what I need to bring along someplace.
Calendars are essential
I used to really hate calendars until my ADHD coach insisted that I find a way to stop warring against them. Nowadays I can’t live without my Google Calendar. This is the place that I use to record the appointments that I have with people so I don’t forget to get there.
Fortunately for me the Google calendar also lets me set as many reminders as I want so I have the calendar remind me at several intervals the day of the appointment so I don’t forget.
The only way this works for me is that I don’t crowd my calendar with trivial things. I know if I have a calendar reminder come up that it is important and not to be snoozed or dismissed without attending to it some way. I can either keep the appointment or I can reach out to the person I am meeting in a timely fashion to let them know I won’t be able to attend.
This has worked so well for me that I’ve never had to update or change it, but if you do that’s ok. Some people prefer paper calendars, and for them I suggest a daily reminder to review the calendar so they don’t forget – that’s actually a good practice all around because we all need to know what is coming for the day.
I never rely on just my memory
During Christmas, a loved one handed us a bag of goodies and we thanked them. My partner sat them to the side for us to take with us later. “Hey honey, I’m just going to take these to the car, we’ll never remember them there” I said to her and we laughed so hard because it is true.
As often as I can, I avoid doing things that rely on “I’ll just remember this later” because I absolutely will not remember it later at all. I used to feel really badly about that because so often we are taught that we remember things based on whether or not they are important to us.
It wasn’t until my ADHD diagnosis that I began to learn that my memory doesn’t care about what it is important to me, and if something is important to me I had better not rely on just my brain because it isn’t enough. Visual reminders of sitting an item right where I can see it can also be helpful, but those have an expiration date on them for me because eventually that item will blend into the background for me so I have to move things around.
Knowing how my mind works and saying in advance, “I’m going to do it this way because it works the best for me” is key to me remembering more things. I set myself up for success by not forcing myself to remember more than I should.
I keep things similar with routine
I have become a bit of a creature of habit to help myself with forgetting items especially. My shoes are by the rack by. the stairs because I don’t take them off anywhere else. My jacket is in the closet right by where the shoes are. My purse has pockets that keep specific things like my gum or my meds go on one side of the pockets and stay right there.
I love using routine this way because it means even if I don’t manage it perfectly, it is easy to find what I have forgotten nearby the places that it would ordinarily be. This means even the search for a forgotten item is pretty short. Routine also helps me remember to check my calendar for my appointments. I believe in simple routines because they allow us space to breathe and recall things that we may have forgotten and fit those things in.
There are always trouble spots even for the best laid plans and mine are no different. A lot of us struggle when we are busy or stressed to keep up with routines, and I am no different.
During that time I usually let the people in my life know that I could use some extra support and reminders from them too. It’s funny because nearly all my closest loved ones have ADHD so it is funny watching us try to keep each other on track but we do the best we can.
I find that when I am in a line in a noisy place it can feel like I’m holding things up by setting a calendar reminder but I have to take the extra time because I won’t remember if I do not. It can feel embarrassing when someone sees me taking something to the car so I don’t forget or setting it within my line of vision and asks “won’t you remember that” but the best I can do is be honest that I won’t.
We don’t have to do things the way that everyone does them and we should not if we want to be able to forget things less.
These are just a few ways that I keep forgetfulness at bay. I know there are many more ways out there and I encourage you to experiment and look around for the ways that will fit best for you. There is no one size fits all solution for these ADHD challenges!
Until next time,
PS – If you loved this post and you want to learn more from me, come check out my Black Girl Lost Keys membership site! We are serving up mini courses for common ADHD challenges like this for $7 per month and you will absolutely love it!