Bob Tamasy: Quit Reminding Yourself Not To Forget

  • Monday, January 23, 2023
  • Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

Years ago, I enrolled in a brief but intensive course on time management. The term itself is a bit of an oxymoron because we really can’t “manage” time. All we can do is strive to utilize our minutes and hours effectively and productively, not to squander them. But what I remember most from those two days was a commonsense recommendation.

What was the recommendation? Simply, it was to write things down so you won’t forget them. The instructor cited a study that indicated much of our mental energy is expended trying to remind ourselves not to forget something.

Whether it’s an appointment, an errand we need to run, an item we’ll need to get at the grocery store, or in my case, an idea for an article or book I’m working on, write it down. The sooner, the better. Then we won’t need to worry about our memory failing us. “Now what was that I wanted to be sure not to forget?”

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve awakened in the middle of the night with an intriguing idea rattling around in my mind. “I’ll have to write that down in the morning.” But when the next morning comes it’s gone, perhaps lost forever in the graveyard for great ideas that were forgotten. Now, if I wake up with “the best idea since sliced bread,” even though it’s a bit of a nuisance I get out of bed and write it down on a notepad. Then I can return to sleep, unencumbered by, “Remember, don’t forget….”

I’ve found this a valuable strategy for spiritual growth as well. When I hear a particularly memorable concept during a sermon or a speaker offers a clever insight during a conference, I write those things down immediately. Someone once said something about how physically recording what we hear reinforces the impact of the concept: “From the lips, into the ears, and out through the fingertips.”

Otherwise, I might find myself perplexed trying to recall whatever it was I thought was so significant at that moment. Without jotting it down with my pen, it’s in one ear and out the other.

This is one reason we have the Scriptures compiled as they are today. Early Jewish tradition was to pass important ideas along orally, but by writing them down they could be recorded with exactitude – as well as more easily remembered. In 2 Peter 1:20-21 we read, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of men, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

The ancient yet timeless prophetic words we find in the Bible weren’t only spoken and then written to be read by the prophets’ peers but also for countless generations to follow. We have thoughts, reflections, and observations about Jesus Christ that His disciples witnessed firsthand. They spoke these wherever they went, but apostles like Matthew, John and Paul also put them in writing to be preserved for posterity.

Writing down what we’re trying to remember is also helpful in memorizing Bible verses. I’ve had many people tell me, “I can’t memorize things,” but in fact they do – stuff like phone numbers, addresses and other information important to them. Probably because they initially wrote them down. When I’ve been attempting to memorize a passage of Scripture, especially a long or difficult one, writing it down has greatly enhanced the process.

Studies of communications have shown that the more senses involved in conveying a message, the greater the likelihood that it will be received successfully. For instance, when we hear someone say something of note, if we physically write it down and then look at it, we’re involving three senses – hearing, sight and touch.

I think of this when I read passages like Psalm 119:9-11, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your word…. I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” And there’s no better way to “hide” the Word of God in our hearts than not only to hear it, read it and intentionally try to commit to memory, but also to write it down so we can see it and create a mental image of the truths we desire to possess.

When we write down what we don’t want to forget, all we need to remember is to look at what we wrote.

* * *

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is btamasy@comcast.net.

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