Lose your keys this morning and spend a frantic 20 minutes retracing your steps from the night before? Misplace your water bottle yesterday even though you swear you left it on the kitchen counter? Do you have any number of forgetful things that you do more during any given week than you care to admit (or think about)?
Well, you’re certainly not alone. And while, as a nurse, you know that forgetfulness can be part of a serious problem (not just effects of Alzheimer’s or dementia, but also depression and ADHD, among others), everyday forgetfulness occurs for just about everybody.
The Wall Street Journal reports that a study reveals the average person misplaces up to nine items a day. While there are a number of causes of everyday forgetfulness, one large influencer appears to be genes.
Another recent study finds that forgetfulness and distraction may be linked to a variation in what is called the dopamine D2 receptor gene (DRD2). The study also found that 75 percent of participants carried a variation of that gene.
Fortunately, the article also presents a few keys to help you remember the things you’ve forgotten.
Don’t lose them in the first place
While this certainly seems like a “Duh!” moment, the best way to remember where you’ve put things is to develop the habit of putting them in a specific spot. Reading glasses: the nightstand. Badge holder: a basket by the door. It also can work on a smaller level, such as always putting your pen in the same scrubs pocket at work. It’s the most obvious answer, but perhaps also the most helpful if you can make those habits stick.
Repeat the name of what you’re looking for (out loud)
It may be best to do this one only if you’re alone (lest your coworkers think you have worse problems than a misplaced steth!). A psychologist in the article says that creating an audible mantra related to what you are looking for is one effective technique for finding what you’ve lost.
Remember before you forget
Okay, that may not make that much sense, but another technique is to visualize yourself doing something you often forget before you do it. The article cites an example of someone needing to remember to buy chicken, avocados and lettuce during an upcoming trip to the grocery store. To help remember these things, visualize yourself in the meat and produce departments before you leave for the store. This technique sounds like it’d be particularly helpful for nurses on the job.
Retrace your steps
An oldie but a goodie — and it works. Go to where you last remember the object being used.
As we look for things–like your new nursing shoes that you know were in the front closet yesterday–we tend to become a bit frantic and not search as well as we should. One helpful technique is to be sure to look thoroughly where you think the lost object may be rather than just rummaging in many different, scattered places.
We’ve all got our forgetfulness tips…what are yours? Let us know how you remember things, both on the job and off, in the comments below.