How Do You Remember Things?


Anyone who talks to me regularly knows that my memory is about five minutes long. Between owning a business, running multiple websites, parenting a teenager, maintaining a home, taking care of four dogs, and occasionally sleeping, it’s a wonder I haven’t forgotten who I am yet.

I keep several systems in place to help me remember things, but it seems inevitable that I forget (or completely screw up) at least a few tasks from time to time. If I don’t have access to my preferred method(s) for keeping track of my life at the time I receive new information, it’s as good as gone. Which is kind of pathetic if you think about it, but unfortunately it’s just the way things go around here.

I make heavy use of technology to stay organized. Without my phone, iPad, and computers, I honestly don’t know what I’d do. While paper and a pen are still part of my repertoire, I find myself using them less and less as my devices become more capable of managing my life.


My finances are actually one of the easier systems to manage. Thanks to the wonder of PNC Virtual Wallet, my savings and most of my bills are automated. I always know when my bills are due and that PNC will take care of them according to the schedule I’ve set up. Other than checking my balance daily to make sure there are no surprises, I don’t have to do much where money is concerned.


iCal and Google Calendar save my life when it comes to managing my work life. When I schedule design work or a consultation for a client, I enter it into iCal immediately. It then syncs to all my various devices so I know what I’m supposed to be doing every day. I also keep a notebook where I scribble hex codes, CSS snippets, and random notes for each project. Projects are given a subfolder within my “work” folder, which syncs to both computers, and I make backups obsessively. I also label emails with the month, year, and name of the project in case I need to refer to them later.


I’ve gotten really good at shopping from a grocery list now that I’m cooking regularly. I tend to keep a written list, adding things as I think of them throughout the week, then taking pictures of the list with my phone so I don’t have to carry the paper with me. (I was always really bad about leaving the list in the car or at home.) I find myself making fewer trips and forgetting things less often now that I have a system in place.


I’ve been trying (unsuccessfully for the most part) to implement a schedule for household chores. I do use the Reminders app for things like replacing the filter in my heating and cooling unit, oil changes, and making/attending appointments, but I haven’t been able to make it work for more frequent tasks like cleaning out my fridge (which needs to happen SOON). Here’s what happens - the reminder goes off, usually when I’m in the middle of something super important. I hit snooze. The reminder goes off again and I turn it off, fully intending to take care of it right then, and then something random happens. A dog pukes, or the doorbell or phone rings, or I realize it’s 2 PM and I haven’t eaten yet… Still working on this one.

What Works For You?

Those are just a few examples of the methods I use to remember things. As I said, they aren’t perfect, but I trust them much more than I trust my ability to remember on my own.

How do you keep track of your life? Anything you wouldn’t recommend doing? Any amazing organizational tools that might help me with the household stuff?

24 Responses to “How Do You Remember Things?”

  1. callmewhatyouwantevencheap says:

    You sound pretty organized to me. iCal is something I've got to check out!

    For groceries, I usually type the list in my bb, since I always remember to bring it with me.

  2. Michelle says:

    I try and enter as many things as I can into my phone. Super easy that way!

  3. Canadianbudgetbinder says:

    Our bills for the most part we both manage and input data into our Canadian Budget Binder Spreadsheet that we developed. All of our financial information is at our fingertips and we pay our bills on a regular schedule. Chores around the house are done daily by both of us and we don't have a regular schedule for that.

    As for grocery we sit down once a week and look at our Pantry and Freezer Inventory list that we developed to see what we have on hand. We make a weekly menu, look at flyers and use coupons. You bring up great points Andrea about life and organization. I believe it is imperative to stay organized otherwise we give up sometimes on things we might otherwise would have prevailed at had we have been organized.

    Great Post!

  4. Lance@MoneyLife&More says:

    I mostly use my outlook calendar on my home computer for reminders to pay bills, check my credit report, cancel CCs before the annual fee kicks in etc. It works for me but if it isn't on there sometimes I might forget something like a random chore. Now that I have a smartphone though I may need something similar for it.

  5. cestarr says:

    Thanks for sharing your tips and tricks Andrea. I can never keep it all straight. And I'm terribly old school when it comes to remembering things. I literally have a chalkboard in my kitchen where I write down what everyone has going on each day. With a family of five, including two teenagers, it is a lifesaver!

  6. LaTisha says:

    I'm a little old-fashioned. I actually use a notebook with my long term goals and short term action items. It seems to keep me on my toes better than anything digital.

  7. Budget & the Beach says:

    I have a good memory for appointments and things I need to do, but I use hotmail calendar for work schedules. When I go to the grocery store I just write my list on paper, but rarely need to see it because I pretty much buy the same type of stuff each week.

  8. JenG says:

    I find that cleaning out the fridge the evening before trash pick-up keeps me on top of it. Clean out the fridge so I (or husband) can take out the garbage. It isn't glamorous, but it works!

    As for other chores, I am working on implementing a "do one chore per evening" so I don't have to do it all on Saturday. It isn't a perfect system yet, but I find that if I tell myself I'm not allowed sit down and watch the Cardinals game with my husband until I clean the bathroom (or whatever), I will usually do it.

    I still use a hard copy grocery list because I like to check off the item when it goes in my cart.

  9. Jay says:

    I struggled with household chores as well, for the same reason as you. Right now, I'm loving the Tasks function on my Google Calendar. I didn't even notice this function until recently- essentially, you can note a task for a given day (or no day at all) and if I just don't have time then I just move it over to another day that's more convenient. This way, the task is always on my mind/on my calendar and I don't forget. It also makes me feel awesome when I can check stuff off!

  10. @thefrugaltoad says:

    I use the calendar on my iphone that syncs to all of my calendars and we try to use a family calendar to keep track of family events. I'm low tech as far as groceries and use a paper list. I tried a few grocery apps but found they are more work.

  11. Eric J. Nisall says:

    I can remember phone numbers and addresses from 2 decades ago, but I can't remember what I was going to write about from 5 minutes ago. Sucks getting old!

    I have Evernote installed everywhere and use it to create lists for anything I need. It has check boxes so I can mark things off of my grocery list when I head over there, and bullet points so I can draft articles on the fly. And it syncs across all my devices making sure they all have the same info. Same goes for my G calendar which I have synced with each other as well.

  12. Modest Money says:

    I really need to get more organized about this kind of stuff. I tend to go pretty basic and just have various text documents on my desktop. As I've gotten busy though I've stopped using them. I'm finding that it's getting harder to remember to do stuff though. So I may have to pick up the habit again. Evernote sounds like it might be a better option though.

  13. fugalportland says:

    Google — gmail, work gmail, google calendar, and workflowy. You sound like you have a good system, though!

  14. lkrant says:

    I am a big list guy and I use a daily planner. In addition, I have a good memory and a good system.

  15. @dracoangelica says:

    I use Cozi. It's an app that helps coordinate things like chores, grocery lists, to do lists, meal plans and it also has a journal/blogging bit on there that I use to keep my non-technologically savvy family members up to date. It sends out like an email list every month so that the family members I don't see often (IE the ones that live in South Dakota and in OK) can keep up with funny stories or experiences that me and my husband have going on. My favorite thing about it is that its on both my phone AND my husband's. If he updates a list or needs to remind me about a calendar event, then on it goes.

  16. Cassi says:

    I don't know how good my memory is, but I know that I normally write everything down or put a reminder on my phone, just in case. I get worried when I forget something, so it is easier to just put it down somewhere so I don't have to deal with the issues that come when I forget something, like to email my teacher for a schedule change because I am taking the lass online. Too late now.

  17. Shawanda says:

    I rely heavily on the calendar and notes app that come standard with the iPhone. If something is on my mind, I have to write it down immediately or it's basically gone forever.

  18. bogofdebt says:

    I'm a list person. I will use calendar reminders but for me, a list really helps. I think it's because if I"m writing it out (or typing as I tend to to both) it sinks in to my head a little further. For house hold chores, I'm okay on some of them as I do them every week. Cleaning my fridge is "easy" for me to remember to do because it's very small and I have to clean it out when we go grocery shopping. For bills that I can't automate, I have them written in my budget notebook/excell file as a reminder. I also put notes on my wall calendar for things like flea medicine for my cat. Otherwise he'd get it when I remembered. Sometimes that would be every week or it could be a few months in between treatments.

  19. Squeezer says:

    I use a notepad app on my cell phone, and i'll use it to write down lists. For calendar appointments, I use google calendar.

  20. queenlbee says:

    I don't know if you've heard of the app called Teux Deux http://www.teuxdeux.com. I think it's 1.99 for your phone and it syncs between phone and desktop…so I keep it up while I'm working. I like that it has things to do for the week and then "someday". I also like that you can click and it marks through the chore with a line…a great sense of accomplishment that comes with scratching something off!

    It's been a big help to me! http://www.lbeeandthemoneytree.com

  21. Catseye says:

    I've carried a small notebook and pen in my purse since I was a teen and a weekly pocket calendar to keep track of appointments, birthdays, etc. I also use the pocket calendar as a sort of diary. If I'm taking some kind of medication that I want to keep track of or something interesting or cool or important happens to me, I note it in the calendar.
    I list chores I want to get done on a whiteboard in the kitchen. I love the satisfaction of drawing a line through a chore until entire list is completed.

  22. Jerome says:

    I pay all my bills as soon as I get them. I plan my social events on a simple paper calendar which also has a column for important household chores, like putting the garbage out. The rest I forget as it seems unimportant. Works for me.

  23. Debt Free Teen says:

    I love Google Reader. It allows you to stay up to date with your favorite blogs without visiting each blog individually & it displays new posts which you haven't seen. Not only do you save time, but you will never miss a post from your favorite blogs again :)

  24. SB @ OCAAT says:

    I rely on iPhone calendar when on the move, when not, computer has a good calendar. Grocery and household tasks I don't remember and my wife reminds me anyway. For finances, I am always on top of it, nothing to forget. Mantra is remember what no one can do except you, else fashionably forget. :)

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