More than three decades ago, one of my first assignments as a new CBMC staff member was to attend a one-day training session to learn how to properly use the daily planner which then was called Time:Systems. (You know a daily planner must be good if you need training to use it right.)
Actually, I did learn a lot, especially that every day significant mental energy is expended trying to remind ourselves not to forget important things. The training taught me a simple solution to such forgetfulness: Write it down.
When you write down things you want to remember, all you have to remember is where you wrote down the stuff you need to remember. Got it? Don’t forget.
I also learned to maintain only one to-do list, not separate lists for work and for personal concerns. That helps you avoid making commitments at work when you already have family obligations, and vice versa. Write it down, keep everything together, and simply remember to review your list occasionally. This frees up your mind for more pressing matters.
One other memory trick I discovered – actually this one I taught myself – was when I think of something I don’t want to forget, wherever and whenever that occurs, write it down immediately. Even if I awaken from a sound sleep.
Early in my newspaper career I learned this lesson the hard way. On a couple occasions I woke up in the middle of the night with great ideas for articles or columns. “That’s good. I’ll have to remember that in the morning,” I thought, before turning over to return to dreamland. Come morning the marvelous idea, whatever it was, was gone. Vanished, like a vapor.
Perhaps it could been the seed for the next great American novel, the secret to world peace, or something of that magnitude. But whatever it was, it had been withdrawn from my memory bank.
So I resolved that whenever I have an idea good enough to wake me up in the wee dark hours, I’d write it down. Right then and there. Whether in a notepad on the nightstand next to my bed, or actually getting up to type it on my computer. In fact, I did that just last night. I woke up with a crazy idea rattling around my mind – no idea where it had come from – but I thought, “If I don’t write this down, sure enough, it won’t be there when I get up in the morning.”
Now whether this idea ever amounts to anything, time will tell. But the point is, I didn’t have to fret about forgetting it. I lost no sleep reminding myself not to forget.
This is one reason God often tells His people, in essence, “Write it down.” For instance, after God used Moses to lead the Israelites to a decisive victory, He directed him, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered…” (Exodus 17:14).
Instructing His people to never forget the greatest of all commandments, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength,” God instructed fathers in Israel to “Impress them on your children…. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
New Testament authors frequently explained the importance of putting into writing the truths and principles that undergirded their faith. The apostle Paul wrote, “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you” (Philippians 3:1).
There are numerous other examples, but the point is simple: Write down what God has done in your life. So when times come, and they will, that you want to ask, “Lord, what have you done for me lately?” you have a supply of written reminders not only to help you remember His provision in the past, but also His promises for the future.
You can maintain a spiritual journal, make notations in the margins of your Bible, whatever works for you. How you do it makes little difference – just do it. Write what God has done in your life and periodically review what you’ve written.
And while you’re at it, be faithful to regularly read what others have written – in the Word of God. Even Jesus, when tempted by Satan, would respond, “It is written…,” and quote from the Scriptures. If it was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for us.
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at email@example.com.