I thought I’d start my blogs with something slightly frivolous.
Forgetting where you left your keys is a common experience and affects some people more than others. It’s so frustrating, isn’t it?
You rush about the house, looking on top of things and under things, trying to retrace your steps and work out where you’ve been, where you stood, where you sat and what you did as soon as you came in the front door.
But there is a way of dealing with this problem and I’m going to run through a couple of approaches that you can use to make sure you remember where you left the keys.
A pragmatic solution
The easiest way to remember where you left your keys is to nominate *one* place where your keys live. It might be in a small dish or bowl near the front door or in your lounge or it might be a shelf in a cupboard in the kitchen. What you do is to always put your keys in that place when you get home.
And when you need your keys, you just go to that place and they are there.
Simple, isn’t it?
But it does require the cast-iron determination to *always* put your keys in that place, to make sure that – no matter what – you put them there and you put them there first.
That’s what I do.
And it’s the lazy way because instead of having to memorize hundreds of different key locations during the course of a year, as you dump them down mindlessly in some place or other every time you come in, you just need to remember one thing: where your keys live.
Am I being absent-minded? Well, in a way…
In the last paragraph I wrote about someone “mindlessly” putting their keys down somewhere and that’s a good description. If you can’t remember where you put your keys it’s because your mind *was* absent: you didn’t focus your attention at all on what you were doing because your attention was elsewhere.
Maybe you were thinking about how much you needed to do a wee, perhaps you were thinking about whether you wanted to have coffee or a herb tea, or maybe you were looking out of the window, wondering what that cat was doing on your shed; you might be hopping on one leg trying to get your shoe off and wondering why the room is so cold.
But you didn’t focus on the keys and where you put them.
And *focus* is an important part of memory: we remember what we focus on.
How to remember where you left your keys
So, if you can’t bring yourself to put your keys in the same place every time you come home, what’s the best way to ensure that you remember where you put them?
Well, you need to focus your attention, you need to take the time to allow your full attention to dwell, say for a second or two, with no distractions, on what you just did and where you just did it. Take it all in.
That may be enough for you.
If not, you are going to need to get creative, and imagine a memorable scene that brings in all your senses.
Here’s an example:
Say you put your keys down on top of a small book-case. Focus your attention on that for a second or two, and do this… imagine that your keys are swelling and growing, becoming heavier and heavier. You can feel the solid, gravity-ridden metal as it presses down hard, harder. The wood begins to crack loudly, as the structure strains and cracks loudly, as multi-coloured books start to fly out into the room, as if fired from a catapault. In your mind’s eye, you flinch and frown and have to duck to get out of the way, as the whole bookcase crashes to the ground in a cloud of musty dust.
You’ve focused your attention and you’ve brought in all of your senses: you saw something in your mind’s eye, you imagined sounds, you felt pressure and weight, there was movement and action, you could smell musty dust and you had a bit of an emotional response too, as you flinched and frowned.
All these things enhance our memory of something, and I’m going to talk more about that in later blogs.
But for now, I think that’s enough 🙂
Memory and learning coach