You are absentminded when your mind is absent; when you perform actions unconsciously, without thinking. We’ve discussed the difference between seeing and observing—we see with our eyes, but we observe with our minds. If your mind is “absent” when performing an action, there can be no observation; more important, there can be no Original Awareness.

Absentmindedness is probably the most widespread of minor self annoyances. Although it plagues most of us, it seems particularly to affect the elderly. The techniques we’ll discuss here have succeeded in eliminating absentmindedness for countless people, including the elderly.

To some readers, absentmindedness may seem to be a trivial problem. Perhaps they don’t realize how much time, energy, and aggravation they spend on searching for items they “just put down for a moment,” or on worrying about whether they have turned off the oven, locked the door, unplugged the iron, or on retrieving items they have left in trains, buses, cars, offices, and friends’ homes.

Here is a video with more techniques to beat forgetfulness

How To Beat Forgetfulness And Live An Active Life

The solution to the problem of absentmindedness is both simple and obvious: All you have to do is to be sure to think of what you’re doing during the moment in which you’re doing it. That’s all, but obviously it’s easier said than done. How can you be sure to force yourself to think of a minor action at the moment you’re doing it?

guide on how to beat forgetfulness

There’s only one way, and that is by using association. Since association forces Original Awareness—and since being Originally Aware is the same as having something register in your mind in the first place, at the moment it occurs—then forming an instant association must solve the problem of absentmindedness.

You’re writing at your desk and the phone rings. As you reach for the phone, you place the pencil behind your ear, or in your hair. The phone call is finished—that took only a few minutes—but now you waste time searching for the pencil that’s perched behind your ear. Would you like to avoid that aggravation? All right, then; the next time the phone rings and you start to place the pencil behind your ear, make a fast mental picture in your mind. Actually “see” the pencil going into your ear—all the way.

The idea may make you shudder, but when you think of that pencil, you’ll know where it is. That silly association of seeing the pencil go into your ear forced you to think of two things in a fraction of a second: 1) the pencil, and 2) where you were putting it. Problem solved!

Solved, that is, if you make an association each time you put down your pencil, wherever you put it. Just make it a habit. Keep the idea in mind the first few times, force yourself to form the associations, and after that it will become habitual.

If you place your eyeglasses on your television set as you leave your living room, “see” the antenna of the television set going right through the eyeglass lens, shattering it. This association is made without breaking stride, as you walk. We’ll guarantee that the next time you think of your glasses, you’ll know where they are. For two reasons: First, you thought about it when you put them down; and second, the thing that made you think about it, the association, also reminds you of where they are.

If you placed the eyeglasses on your bed, you can picture a gigantic pair of glasses sleeping in your bed. If you stuck them into a pocket, picture the lenses breaking in your pocket and tearing it. Or you’re reaching in to get the glasses and your hand is badly cut. All the same idea; the association, no matter what it is, forces you to think of the action at that moment. Always do it at the moment; if you put off doing it, you’ll forget to form the association and you’ll forget where your glasses are!

Many people are plagued by misplacing treasured items. You usually put the item in a particularly good hiding place—and then never see it again. (If you do, it’s likely to be when you move, and empty all your drawers and closets.)

This problem, too, can be solved by making an instant association. Say you have an expensive fountain pen that you want to keep for a child or grandchild. You place it in a drawer beneath your good sweaters for safekeeping. As you place it there, see a picture of the pen leaking ink all over those sweaters, ruining them. Be assured that the next time you think of that pen, no matter how long after you’ve put it away, you’ll know that it’s under your sweaters. You need only associate an item you’re putting away to its hiding place once to see that the idea works beautifully.

memory techniques to beat forgetfulness

If you want to be sure not to leave your umbrella at your friend’s house, associate umbrella to the last thing you’re sure to notice when you leave. If you’re wearing a coat, and it’s cold outside, you know you won’t forget the coat. Associate umbrella to coat; you might see yourself putting on a gigantic umbrella instead of a coat, or using a coat instead of an umbrella to protect you from the rain. The principle is the same—one thing reminds you of the other. If your picture is a clear one, and a ridiculous one, the coat must remind you of the umbrella. If you want to make extra sure, and if you’re driving, associate umbrella to your car. You might picture yourself opening the car with an open umbrella instead of a key. Now, if the coat doesn’t remind you to take that umbrella, the car certainly will.

Do you often leave your umbrella at the office instead of taking it home? As you arrive and put your umbrella away, associate it to the last thing you normally see or do as you’re leaving the office. If you punch a time clock, see yourself placing the umbrella in the slot instead of your card. Or, if you ride an elevator, picture an umbrella operating it. You might also associate the umbrella to something you always see just outside the office building—if one association doesn’t remind you to take it with you, the other will remind you to go back and get it.

Perhaps you’re one of those people who write an important letter and then forget to take it out of the house and mail it. What’s the last thing you do as you leave your house or apartment? Perhaps you check your doorknob to make sure the door is shut, or perhaps you lock the door with a key. Simply associate letter to either doorknob or key —or both. (If you associate letter to, say, doorknob a few times, you probably won’t have to do it ever again. Every time you look at that knob, it will make you think of letter, and if you’ve left one inside you’ll go back and get it.)

You can always use a second picture as insurance. Perhaps you often take out some garbage when you leave your home. See yourself throwing millions of letters into your garbage can or incinerator.

This will help you remember to take the letter, but you may still leave it in your pocket or purse for a few weeks! One way to avoid that is to hold the letter in your hand until you see a mailbox. Another way is to associate the person or company that the letter is addressed to, to a mailbox. If it’s going to someone you can picture or visualize, see that person’s head coming out of a mailbox. If it’s going to a company, use a Substitute thought. For example, if it’s an electric bill, see electricity (lightning) shooting out of a mailbox. In either case, the next time you notice a mailbox—and sooner or later you will you’ll be reminded to take that letter out of your pocket or purse and mail it.

beat forgetfulness and live an active life

A woman in one of our classes told us that she often burned the roast that she put in the oven because she simply forgot about it. Well, she could avoid this by putting a smaller roast into the oven along with the regular one—when she smelled the small one burning, she’d know the other one was done! The price of meat being what it is, however, there has to be a better way.

Make this a habit—every time you put something in the oven, place a small frying pan smack in the center of the kitchen floor! How can you possibly forget about the roast now? Each time you see (or trip over) that frying pan, you’ll be reminded of the roast in the oven.

Upon hearing this idea one man said, “That’s fine, except that when I put a roast in the oven, I usually go into another room to watch television. Then I can’t see the reminder.” The solution for him was obvious, of course—to take the frying pan along and put it on top of the television set.

Instead of a frying pan, you can use anything that looks out of place on the floor (or television set): a pot holder, a plate, a hunk of cheese. The idea is based on the standard rule of memory—one thing reminds you of another.

It’s not a new idea by any means; it’s similar to tying a string on your finger, wearing your watch on the wrong wrist, turning your ring to face the wrong way, or putting a crumpled dollar bill in with your coins. Each of these “out-of-place” things is supposed to remind you of something you want to remember. The problem is that too often they’ll remind you that you wanted to remember “something,” which isn’t much help if you can’t remember what the something is. The frying pan on the kitchen floor, on the other hand, must remind you of the roast in the oven because that’s all you’ll be using it for. If you insist on tying a string around your finger or wearing your watch on the wrong wrist, now you have a way to make it definite. Go ahead and tie the string around your finger, but at the same time be sure to associate whatever it is you want to remember to the string. Now you have the two essentials: first the reminder, then what it is you’re being reminded of.

Why ruin your evening out because you spend most of it worrying about whether or not you turned off the oven, locked the door, or unplugged the iron? Form the habit of making a quick association at the moment you do these things. As you shut off the oven, picture yourself (or just your head) in the oven! Really see that picture, and you’ve consciously thought about the action for a split second. Later on, when you think about the oven, you’ll know you shut it off.

As you lock your door, see yourself locking it with your head instead of a key. When you unplug your iron, see your head coming out of the socket. The picture you choose is unimportant—any picture forces you to think of the action at that moment.

Do you sometimes find yourself going to your refrigerator, opening the door, and then staring inside and wondering what it is you wanted? Just make an association the moment you think of what it is you want from the refrigerator. If you want a glass of milk, see yourself opening the refrigerator door and gallons of milk flying out and hitting you in the face! Try this idea, and you’ll never stare into a refrigerator again.

That’s all there is to it. It’s like grabbing your mind by the scruff of the neck and forcing it to think of a specific thing at a specific moment. Force yourself to do it at first, and it will become habitual before you know it.

Forming these associations may strike you as a waste of time. You won’t feel that way once you’ve tried using the idea. You’ll see, after a short while, that the ridiculous pictures are formed in hardly any time at all. Even more important is the time that you’ll be saving.

If you’ve been applying the systems, you’ve not only improved your memory, you’ve improved your sense of imagination, concentration, and observation. By now, you must realize that in order to remember anything, you must pay attention to it—it must be observed. Applying our systems will automatically sharpen your observation.

Having a better sense of observation is almost like taking an “awareness pill.” You’ll be able to really notice, and be aware of, things that ordinarily would make only a vague impression. Most people we’ve talked to admit that they would have taken an “awareness pill,” if there were such a thing, whenever they traveled to new places. After the trip or visit, they never could clearly visualize the beautiful things they’d seen— hadn’t really noticed or observed them.

All the ideas in this article have been intended to force you to pay attention, to observe. You cannot sharpen your observation without applying some effort at first, as is the case with most of the memory systems. But observation, too, will become habit if you practice it consciously and conscientiously.

Up to now, you probably haven’t had to expend much effort in learning and applying our systems. Names and faces, errands, foreign words—whatever the memory problem, the solution has largely been a matter of grasping a simple idea and using just a bit of imagination.

But nothing worthwhile comes too easily. You’re about to embark on some entirely new ideas. Although they remain simple, applying them will take a little more effort on your part—but only until the fundamentals are learned and absorbed.

As you move into remembering the more challenging material that follows, work to apply the systems. You may feel that applying memory systems to it seems like a lot of work. Again, that’s thinking negatively. Any new art or skill seems difficult and cumbersome at first—but only at first, only until you’ve grasped the fundamentals of the skill. It is rote memory that’s really a lot of work—and usually for naught, because it just doesn’t work too well or too often. Applying the systems, once you’ve learned the basics, must save you much time and work.

So be sure to take the time to learn the basics that follow. You won’t regret it!