Forget Everyday Junk, Remember the Good Stuff

Sure, you can memorize every last appointment on your calendar. But you’ll have less time for what you really want to know.

I use a paper calendar.

For a guy who writes about memorizing entire Gospels, that might sound like a confession. Hypocrisy, even. How can all this stuff work, you might think, if this guy can’t even memorize when his library books are due?

Well, I didn’t say I can’t. Sure, I could set up 12 loci, one for each month, and populate them with enough locus objects and parts for each day of each month. Then I could choose mnemonic images for each kind of appointment and deadline, and attach them to the correct days in my mnemonic schedule. When needed, I could add mnemonics for the time.

Now that I say it, it does sound kind of neat. I wouldn’t have to worry about my papers getting lost or cut into princesses by creative children. The need to review would naturally keep things in my mind. The scheme definitely has its good points.

But life is short, and you have to choose your memories carefully. Do I really need to go to all that trouble?

My paper calendar seems to work just fine. I can fit eight weeks at once on a letter sheet. (I use pdfcalendar; it’s free, and you can customize your calendar.) I keep sheets handy for the next few months, with the current sheet on top. The whole stack lives on my desk, in the folder pocket of what used to be the back cover of a binder. Adding a deadline or getting an overview of the current month or so is quite fast. At least as fast as a PDA or calendar program would be, if not faster.

Of course, I do use all sorts of computer trickery (and other papers) to manage my projects and Get Things Done. Man, I could memorize all this stuff too.

But I don’t think I will. The systems I have already work. The information’s there when I need it. When I don’t need it anymore, I’m glad to forget it.

Memorizing all this would take more time. And that [time could be better spent][ek] elsewhere.

Just because you can memorize something doesn’t mean you need to, or even that you ought to. In my case, at least, paper and computers really are better tools for managing these daily details.

If civilization collapses and paper costs two cows a sheet, I can always reconsider. (And I mean collapse. Medieval civilization didn’t charge anything near that price for good, reusable parchment.)

Right now, with civilization at full throttle, I have better things to remember. What I remember becomes my worldview. I’d rather not take up space with library due dates.