Try not to do too many things at once. Reduce demands on your memory, perhaps by doing fewer activities or sharing tasks with a family member or an assistant at work. You may have been a perfectionist in the past, and you may find it helps to lower your expectations.
Anxiety, depression, tiredness, pain, lack of sleep, alcohol, recreational drugs and some medications can affect memory, so try to control these factors where possible. Try to have a positive frame of mind. Some people find relaxation or meditation techniques of value. Have activities that you find easy and enjoyable as part of your daily routine. Take regular breaks to help prevent fatigue setting in. Regular exercise, ‘social sports’ (where you mix with others) and weight control can contribute to good health and to a better memory.
If you do forget something, don’t get too upset about it. Stay calm and wait for a while – what you have forgotten may come back by itself. Learn any lessons as to why you were forgetful on this occasion, so that you make memory lapses less likely to occur in the future.
Keep to a fixed routine, with set activities at set times of the day, and on set days of the week. This will mean that you are more likely to remember to do things.
Be organized – have a place for everything, and put back everything in its place. Consider putting labels on drawers, cupboards, containers or files. Use paper-based or smartphone-based or computer-based diary systems. If you use several systems, try to make sure they are synchronised with each other.
Try not to let your mind wander – keep on track. Be especially careful to concentrate when you are travelling about. If you are often leaving things behind in a room or on public transport, get into the habit of having a final check – ‘Look before you Leave’.
If you have to do something, do it now rather than later, when it may get lost from your memory – ‘Do it Now’.
If you have to remember something such as a message or a name, go over it in your mind at increasing intervals. Regularly bringing something to mind (‘recall practice’) has been shown to result in better memory. If you are forgetful for recent holidays that you have had, keep a written or photo-based diary or video diary, perhaps using your mobile phone. Go over that diary at regular intervals, such as last thing at night or at the weekend. On a wall or display board, you could also have photographs of recent holidays or of key names that you often forget.
Try to find meaning in things you have to remember – e.g. by making associations or by linking things together, such as grouping grocery items that go together if you have to remember things to get from the supermarket. If you have to remember to do something later in the day, such as buy milk from the supermarket on the way home from work, try to associate an image of a carton of milk to something you will encounter near to that time, such as your car, or a road near the supermarket.
Use memory aids – such as magnetic whiteboards, Post-it notes, check-lists, notebooks, diaries, calendars, alarm timers, smartphones and smartwatches. They can help you to remember messages and help you remember to do things at the right time. Remember that a family member, a friend or a colleague at work can also be a good memory aid! If you have a smartphone, there are many apps that can be helpful as reminders, such as apps that help you remember to take your medication or where you have put things or how to get to somewhere.