I’m notorious for forgetting to do things. Whether it’s household tasks, job related items or grocery
|My little Raphael cell phone
charm also helps.
shopping, if left to memory, something will certainly get lost.
Going High Tech
In recent years, I’ve turned to making lists. Since getting my phone, I’ve been able to centralize the lists into one device, which is pretty awesome.
Another great feature about the smart phone programming is the option to include your to-do list and scheduled events on one screen. That way, you can easily tick off items while still having access to important events at the same time.
The voice to text feature is amazing, too.
If you decide to start using a smart phone, though, limit your time on it. I’ve had this one for a couple of weeks, and I’ve been taking advantage of the Kindle app. Last week, I had a mild headache almost every day, save for Tuesday when it turned into a full migraine.
I couldn’t figure out why, until I realized how much I was staring at this new toy. I looked it up, and sure enough, smart phones have a solid link to headaches. Since I already have a touch of light sensitivity, and staring at screens for too long has triggered migraines before, I probably should have known that would happen.
The organizational tools in that thing are wonderful, though. You can also download free list making apps for things like shopping, books, movies and any other kind of list you can think of.
Keeping it Low Tech
As much fun as smart phones are, I realize they’re not in the budget for many families. That’s where things like paper lists, dry erase boards, calendars and chalk boards come in.
In fact, large dry erase boards or large sheets of paper may make some lists easier to use than those on computers or smart phones. Having a good visual representation can help each person in the household complete their respective tasks more efficiently. It also makes rewards systems easier to keep track of.
As for shopping and other mobile tasks, small pads of paper are portable, widely available and are usually pretty affordable. There are even refillable cases available for pads of paper and pens small enough to fit in a purse or pocket. Of course, they don’t have spell check features, but who cares, so long as you understand what you’ve written down (most of the time)?
I’ve had the one pictured below for years, and it’s helped me out in assorted situations.
The pen is refillable, too, but I haven’t picked up any new cartridges, so the writing was done with a marker.
Notes on Formatting and Use
Like with all things, I’ve noticed that the format of the list used matters. I’ve found that an ideal list needs the following qualities:
- Flexible – I need to be able to add things as easily as I need to cross them out
- Easily accessible
- Easy to read
Small, crowded text triggers my dyslexia, and makes it impossible to differentiate items, so I prefer larger, well spaced fonts. They work best when I can have it right with me as I do the task at hand, and it needs to be able to evolve as things occur to me or as I finish items.
There have been situations in school and at assorted jobs where the lists provided embodied none of those qualities. They were rendered useless to me, and those in charge ended up frustrated or downright angry at me. In short, they made a bad situation worse.
That said, it’s vital to remember format is just as important as the list itself. It’s also important to remember that lists won’t work all the time.
I’ve found that when I’m attempting something complicated, pausing to look at a list of steps gets me more lost when I turn back to the project at hand than if I was working without it. I either need to figure the whole thing out on my own, have a very patient person available to back me up, use a picture or have a video example at hand.
Another form of list that seems to cause more harm than good is the strict schedule. Allotting a certain number of hours per day to a task has never worked very well for me. Having my hours listed out and assigned makes whatever I need to get done more daunting, as it doesn’t give me the flexibility I need to perform well. That might have more to do with my personal psychology than anything with my wiring, though.
However, other people have seen spectacular success when sticking to a schedule. To each their own.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that lists are a wonderful tool to enhance a person’s working memory. Many neurotypical people use them for shopping, but for those of us with working memory deficits, they’re extremely valuable tools in every day life.