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Forget more, succeed more

Most of us trust our memory too much

And no matter how much we continue to make the same mistake again and again, we continue to believe that our future selves will remember at the appropriate time and place what our current self is promising those future selves will do.

"Sure. I'll pick up some milk on the way home, honey." Given the evidence of your history, how likely is it that your future self, while driving home, will remember to stop and pick up the milk?

"When I meet with my boss tomorrow, I need to remember to mention the problem we're having with receivables."

Given the evidence of your history, how likely is it that your future self, when in that meeting with your boss tomorrow, will remember to bring up the issue of receivables?

"I keep forgetting to put my keys down in the place where they belong when I come in the house. I want to remember that next time."

Given the evidence of your history, how likely is it that your future self, when entering your house the next time, will put the keys in the place where they belong?"

"Wow! This undoing fear process I just learned really works to dissolve my stress. I have to remember to do it the next time I'm feeling any stress or worry."

Given the evidence of your history, how likely is it that your future self, when feeling stress or worry, is going to remember the undoing fear process?

"It's so clear to me that if I spend just 1% of each day doing the 14:24 process, then step by step everything else in my life will get better."

Given the evidence of your history, how likely is it that your future self in each and every day that lies ahead is going to remember to do 14:24 in the face of your other plans, distractions, and urgencies?

90% of the messages are not being delivered to your future selves (what's your percentage?)

In so many examples, often occurring many times a day, our current self is trying to send a message to our future self. "Trying" is the operative word here because the message is often not received by our future selves at the right time and in the right circumstances. It's as if 90% of the carrier pigeons we sent out got distracted by something more interesting or brought down by a hawk.

For whatever reasons, each time when our Next that's in charge now is about to send another message to a future self (to one  of our future Nexts), we remain unaware of the likelihood that the message will not be delivered as intended. We continue to do this no matter how obvious that unlikelihood would be to us if we just stopped for a few moments to look at the past evidence of "messages undelivered."

Sometimes we do have some awareness of the unreliability of our messenger service, but we seem to have an attitude that nothing can be done about it.

Stop relying on your mind to remember most things

We no longer live in the stone age with no pens, no writing, no reading, no paper, no alarm clocks, no calendars, no pop-ups, no timers, no mobile phones, no email, no task managing apps like, and so on. Mr. or Ms. Neanderthal could satisfy the memory demands of their lifestyle without these modern-day tools. We cannot.

Today, with a few simple habits in place, using a selected few of the tools that are available to us modern folk, we can offload the task of sending almost all those messages to our future selves, relieving our mind of the burden to trying to do what it's piss poor at.

The benefits of doing this are huge. 

Designing and refining your own messaging system (sending messages to your various future selves)

One size does not fit all. You'll need to cobble together and refine a system that works for you. For myself, I currently use an interlocking system that makes use of these tools to send messages to my future selves.

  • Always have a pen and blank white business cards in my pocket (for writing things down that I'll transfer to another messaging system when I get home)

  • Special blank paper on my desk to write things down for my current day

  • Microsoft Outlook

  • Microsoft Word and other documents that track conversations with clients and friends

  • Todoist, including single date reminders, recurring reminders, and pop-up reminders

  • Various checklists in Excel

  • Mobile phone alarms and timers

  • Desktop countdown timer, kitchen countdown timer, bedroom countdown timer

Other options for sending reliably delivered messages to your future selves

  • Alexa, Siri, or other devices that deliver voice reminders to your future selves

  • Audio recordings that you make to your future selves

  • Video recordings that you make to your future selves

  • Smart watches or other biometric devices that will deliver information to your future selves

  • Email delivery services to your future selves

  • Text messaging delivery services to your future selves

  • Others who will reliably remind your future selves of what you want to be reminded of (one specific type of this is covered in How to interrupt yourself)

Object placement: a distinct and important method for delivering messages to your future selves

Here are some examples.

  • How you organize your physical and electronic desktops will remind your future selves what to pay most attention to.

  • How you organize your closet will nudge your future selves to choose the best options for what to wear.

  • How you organize your refrigerator or food cabinet will remind your future selves of the more healthy eating options.

  • Placing your umbrella at the base of your front door will serve as a one-time reminder to that future self who will leave the house in a few hours to take that umbrella with you.

The three simple habits

  1. Whenever you think of a message that you want to send to your future self to further one of your commitments or desires, then put it immediately (don't count on remembering it later) into the place in your system where you are assured it will be received by your future self at the right time and right place.

  2. Ensure that you have standard checking times and places when and where you will retrieve those messages that your former self sent to be picked up by you at this future time. A simple example is to daily check all your task messages, like in Todoist, that were previously sent to you for this day...and to do it consistently before a certain time each morning.

  3. For every message you receive, you either take the action indicated or you send the message onto another future self or you decide not to act on the message, both for now and the future.

Stop memorizing, start systematizing!

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