Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Note to Self

My teen daughter had a friend sleep over last night. I'm not sure how late they stayed up (my husband and I were out long before they were), but rousing them was even more difficult than usual. I had to go in twice and ended up losing whatever cool I thought I had (which, trust me, ain't much). The girls are acting as junior counselors at the riding camp at their stable, and their eager little protégés would be there waiting at nine. We had to go, like ... "Now!" Finally, they came downstairs, looking puffy and rumpled and more than a little pissed off. 

On a small post-it note by the door, I had written "H2O." My daughter looked at it quizzically.

"It's so I remember the bottles of water I put in the freezer for you to take," I explained. It's been hot this week and the girls need to stay hydrated. Had my daughter been less tired, she might have made some remark about how lame it is that I write myself notes. Sometimes fatigue is a good thing.

That's what I do, more and more these days. I write myself notes. You see, if I don't, then I almost certainly forget to remember whatever it is that I needed to remember but forgot.

Some say it's middle age. Some say it's stress. I personally think it's because I am always trying to do five things at once. Something's gotta give.

A yoga teacher of mine (a particularly serene and lovely yoga teacher), explained that we should all try to do just one thing at a time. This, she explained, would help us live in the moment. I've tried, really, but my "to do" list is simply too long. At the same time, I recognize that I'm probably not saving any actual time.

For example, if I spend ten minutes trying to do five things simultaneously, each action item is only getting twenty percent of my attention. This means that any given task is going to take five times longer than it would if I focused on it and it alone. If I did the five tasks in sequence, but only one at a time, I would end up with everything completed at the same time as I would if I did them all together. And, I would be calmer, wouldn't I?

Oh sure, it all makes sense (especially if, like me, you were once on the math team). But that's not how my brain is wired. We talk about multitasking as thought it's an enviable skill. I think it's a deplorable necessity. And one that is robbing me of my short-term memory as well as my beauty sleep.

Thank goodness for post-it notes!

I would worry about my memory loss except that I hear all of my peers complain about the same thing. Doctors actually say that people with real cognitive impairments (like early onset Alzheimer's or dementia) complain less than people who are simply overworked, overtired and overstressed. They also say that the type of forgetfulness we experience indicates whether we need to worry. For example,

You don't have to worry if you go to the grocery store and forget to pick up sugar.
You do have to worry if you go to the grocery store and forget how to get back home.

For now, at least, I'm not so worried. Annoyed, irritated, inconvenienced ...  yes. But, not worried. Nevertheless, I will probably mention it to my doctor when I have my next annual checkup. I'd better write myself a note so I don't forget.

Now, if only I can remember where I left those post-it notes ...

1 comment:

  1. Ha! How true...and I can completely relate. I also find that there's a societal expectation to multi-task and now I also find that I can't seem to do anything else. My personal goal - that I have had for years but never really seem to get to - is to "live in the moment." I think our society unfortunately no longer values that but it means that we are sacrificing focus; focus at work, focus on our loved ones, etc.