Are you guilty of forgetting significant things? Is there an email you haven’t responded to, a family member’s birthday you forgot, or a meeting you were expected to attend?
It is normal to forget things from time to time. What’s interesting, though, is how quickly people forget. Approximately 56% of information is lost within an hour, 66% within a day, and 75% within six days, according to research.
Despite the brain’s impressive abilities, it is limited in its ability to store and recall details. Additionally, it is possible to forget things for many reasons and at different times.
There is a phenomenon known as interference that can cause people to forget. Simply put, the memory of some events competes or interferes with the memory of other events. There is a greater chance of interference when a piece of information is very similar to another piece that was previously stored in memory.
Interference can take two basic forms:
- When an old memory makes it more difficult or impossible to remember something new, this is called proactive interference.
- You are affected by retroactive interference when you discover new information while trying to recall information you have already learned.
In some cases, remembering something can result in forgetting other things. According to research, retrieval-induced forgetting can occur when some information is retrieved from memory. Memory retrieval cues that are very similar to each other are especially likely to occur in this situation.
It is true that this type of forgetting causes forgetting, but research also suggests that it may be necessary. When one memory is forgotten in favor of another, interference is less likely to occur again.
How often do you feel as though a piece of information has just disappeared from your mind? Sometimes you just can’t seem to find it, even though you know it’s there. Among the most common causes of forgetting is the inability to retrieve a memory.
Why does our memory often fail to recall information? A decay theory may explain retrieval failure.
This theory states that every time we form a new theory, a memory trace is created. According to decay theory, memory traces gradually fade over time. Unless the information is retrieved and practiced, it will eventually disappear.
However, research has shown that even memories that aren’t rehearsed or remembered are remarkably stable over time.
As a result of active forgetting, the brain actively prunes unused memories from its memory banks. The more memories accumulate, the more likely they will be lost if they are not retrieved.
Motivated by Forgetting
Memory loss can occur for a variety of reasons, especially when it comes to traumatic or disturbing events. It is natural to desire to eliminate painful memories at times since they can be upsetting and anxiety-provoking. In general, motivated forgetting takes two forms: suppression, which is a conscious process, and repression, which is an unconscious one.
Psychologists, however, do not all adhere to the notion of repressed memories. Scientifically studying repressed memories is difficult, if not impossible, because it is difficult to prove whether or not they have been suppressed.
You should also know that mental activities like rehearsal and remembering are important ways to strengthen your memory. In addition, painful or traumatizing life events are less likely to be remembered, discussed, or practiced.
Failure to Store
You lose information more often than you think because it never becomes long-term memory. In other words, information can get wiped out by encoding failures.
Researchers once asked participants to pick the correct penny from a group of inaccurate ones. People knew this everyday object, but couldn’t recognize key details despite their familiarity.
Why was this happening? Long-term memory only encodes the details needed to distinguish pennies from other coins. There’s no need to know the exact image or words on a penny to identify it. In most cases, people don’t memorize and commit this information to memory because it’s not really needed.
It’s also easy to simplify memories. Many details are likely to get lost in the shuffle, but you remember the overall gist. You can use this to efficiently store relevant things in the future that you have to remember.
Other Reasons We Forget
Other factors may also contribute to why people forget things. Forgetfulness can also be caused by:
- Alcohol. The effects of alcohol on memory can be negative, so limit your consumption as much as possible.
- Depression. Depression can cause low mood and loss of interest, but it can also cause difficulty concentrating and forgetfulness.
- Lack of sleep. Your memory is consolidated during sleep, so not getting enough quality sleep can hurt it.
- Medications. Medicines like antidepressants, sedatives, cold medicines, and allergy medicines can also affect your memory.
- Stress. Experiencing excessive stress, whether acute or chronic, can make you forgetful.
The Role of Calendar Reminders
With that said, you can minimize forgetting by getting enough sleep and physical activity. You can also try rehearsing the information. We also remember and recall new information better when we write by hand instead of typing.
What else can you do to help you remember your commitments and schedule? Have you tried using a calendar reminder?
In the past decade, there have been many innovative and creative ways to keep track of calendar reminders. In the digital age, cloud-based software has enabled us to track our schedules electronically with countless options. No longer are bulky day planners necessary, and accessing a CRM or creating a to-do list does not require a desktop computer.
Are calendar reminders going to solve all your forgetfulness problems? Of course not. Nevertheless, they have become increasingly important.
The Importance of Setting Calendar Reminders
Keep track of deadlines and set reminders for check-ins.
“When you have a critical work deadline or personal event coming up on the horizon, these are the types of events you never want to miss,” writes Howie Jones in a previous Calendar article. “Life gets hectic, and sometimes it feels like you’re moving forward at a hundred miles per hour.”
What’s your plan in times like those, and has it been added to your calendar? This action will ensure that your most important deadlines will be reflected in your calendar, and you won’t forget them.
“By using the “reminder” feature in your online Calendar, you can schedule a reminder that takes effect a week in advance, a few days in advance, and the day before your important event or deadline,” adds Howie. “But, of course, how you distribute your reminders depends on how far out the task is — and how much work the job requires to complete and prepare for.”
“When you first learn about a critical deadline or event, take a few seconds to think about the scope of work you’ll be responsible for.”
Protects your blocks of time.
Sounds obvious. But you can increase efficiency by blocking time in your calendar with calendar reminders. For example, it is possible to work on projects with your office door closed while you block out time for yourself.
More specifically, you can block out time in your schedule when a project requires intense concentration. It is ideal to set reminders before and after your project’s completion.
When your reminder sounds, shut your door and wait until it rings again to open it. If you haven’t finished within the time designated, you can reset the ending reminder.
By using reminders in this way, you will be able to reduce the number of interruptions that you receive and increase your productivity.
Frees up mental space.
Suppose you’re lying awake the night before a major meeting or presentation, mentally ticking things off your list. Your mind races with everything you need to accomplish in the morning. Then you start to feel overwhelmed as you try to keep track of it all and make sure you have allotted enough time for everything to be completed.
Many of us worry about our outfits, what to eat for breakfast, and what route we should take to get to where we want to be as quickly as possible. In your mind, you picture your entire day, remember all of your appointments, and ensure that everything is organized. After that, maybe you can fall asleep.
As long as you keep your calendar updated with all of your obligations, you can relax. Why? With a reminder system, everything will be taken care of for you. You have successfully planned your day, and can now focus on more meaningful tasks.
Organizes your to-do list.
How many Post-Its or scraps of paper do you have on your desk? Is there more than one notebook for different tasks and activities that you are supposed to accomplish?
A messy desk can be considered a sign of genius in some professions. However, if you can’t find a scrap of paper reminding you of a crucial meeting in your office, what are the chances you’ll remember it?
Furthermore, our brains are negatively affected by disorganization and clutter. This is because our brains are oriented towards order, and constant visual reminders of disorganization drain our cognitive resources, making us less able to concentrate.
In short, clutter can increase cognitive overload and reduce our working memory due to visual distraction.
Also, according to neuroscience researchers using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and other physiological measurements, clearing clutter from the home and workplace improved focus, memory, and productivity.
But that’s not all. We can feel stressed, anxious, or depressed when our environment is cluttered. And, if you recall, stress can play a role in forgetting things.
By organizing your schedule with reminders, you can stay on top of your daily obligations instead of scattering them across your desk, home, and smartphone.
Create recurring events.
Calendar reminders can also be used to keep track of recurring events. They are an excellent way to keep track of your appointments and meetings when you are out of the office at regular intervals.
Using calendar reminders, you can schedule break times as well. It is common for people to fail to take breaks when they need to.
You can actually work more effectively if you take a few minutes to get away from your desk. A calendar reminder can help you avoid exhaustion and ensure you take a few minutes to refresh.
Accountability for all.
Every member of your team probably has a goal in mind. It may be securing two appointments, improving your time management skills, or taking on new and challenging responsibilities. Holding each other accountable at a specific time each day or week can help keep your team accountable.
Another option? Share your calendar with your team or create a team calendar. A team leader or colleague can hold someone accountable if their schedule appears empty or if they miss a check-in.
Keep track of appointments and follow-ups.
Each of us has appointments during the workday that must be scheduled. As such, in addition to setting reminders 10 or 15 minutes ahead, you can set them for the next day.
It is possible to work right up until the time of the reminder for work or personal appointments. After that, you just have a few minutes to finish and make it on time for your appointment.
Rather than looking at the clock every few minutes, this is a much better alternative. Worse yet, you may not be able to make your appointment at all.
As an added bonus, you can set a calendar reminder to follow up. For instance, following up with someone you met at a networking event. You can also set up reminders for dental and medical appointments.
Makes Meetings More Productive
A reminder can be used for more than just appointments, tasks, or travel. Before meetings, reminders are essential, states Calendar co-founder John Rampton.
But, why? Well, here are his seven reasons.
- Waiting lists, cancellations, and no-shows are reduced. To avoid forgetting the meeting in the morning, you could receive an email 24 hours in advance. Alternatively, a push notification can alert you that it’s time to leave an hour before your event.
- Allows everyone to plan ahead. Reminders can include the date, location, and agenda of upcoming meetings. In addition, it tells invitees what materials to bring, such as performance reports and legal documents.
- Makes the meeting more productive. Meetings are much more effective when people arrive on time and know what needs to be done. Due to its on-time start and end, the meeting runs smoothly.
- Improves office productivity. Instead of reminding people about upcoming meetings, you spend your time more productively.
- Maximizes revenue and reduces waste. If you spend less time on the phone or emailing clients reminding them about meetings, you have more time to do other things, such as strengthening customer relations or improving existing products or services.
- Allows you to track cancellations. Automated and SMS reminders allow you to keep track of customer cancellations, postponements, and reschedules.
- Reminders build stronger relationships with employees, customers, and clients. Your appointment reminder messages can be customized with appointment reminder software like Weav.
Image Credit: Photo by Helena Lopes; Pexels; Thank you!
Editor-in-Chief at Calendar. Former Editor-in-Chief and writer at Startup Grind. Freelance editor at Entrepreneur.com. Deanna loves to help build startups, and guide them to discover the business value of their online content and social media marketing.