If you don't write it down, you will forget

What was your first thought this morning?

When I'm in a restaurant, there is nothing that scares me more than a waiter that doesn't write down my order. Especially when we come in as a group. What if they forget? What if they charge me for something I didn't order? For that matter what if I say I didn't order anything and they just brought me food? There is no paper trail to prove otherwise. The stakes are just too high to make a mistake.

Life happens as such that there are memories we want to forget. There are some moments of humiliation I have suffered in the past that I can laugh about today. But when they happened they were painful and I am glad that my brain cannot recollect all the details in a vivid enough manner to bring back the same feeling.

Our brain is not selective. It forgets everything. Even the things you want to keep forever. That cool idea you had when you were in the train, coming home from an exhausting day at work? Gone! The grocery list your wife insisted you write down? Gone! The blog post I was supposed to write instead of this one? Gone!

Even shower thoughts are forgotten if they are not put in stone. And for us developer, a shower is a rich source of fruitful thoughts:

Programming is that thing that turns a 5 minute shower into a 1 hour conversation with yourself in the shower

When I don't write it down, I forget. As simple as that. We are constantly thinking and ideas come and go like the first thought you had this morning. It's one thing to remember that you forgot something, it is a whole other to forget to remember.

Sometimes, the greatest ideas come to you when you have no way of putting them down. In the middle of a conversation at a party, you remember a long forgotten thought and you know that if you don't write it down it will evaporate. But you made everyone believe that you are a great listener so you stick to the end of the conversation without listening to a word they said.

Well then, WRITE IT DOWN!

Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night with a thought. If it is not too far away from dawn, I take my phone out and start writing it. When I have absolutely no intention of doing any action that might compromise my sleep, I grab my phone and hit the sound record button. I say whatever I have to say, and if I don't forget, I hit save and go back to sleep. The reason I do this is because countless times I thought that my idea is obvious enough to remember but come the morning I don't even remember that I forgot.

Smartphones following us everywhere are a blessing. At any time I can whip up Google Drive or Dropbox and write some notes that will sync up with my laptop whenever I am more comfortable to write. I've written countless blog posts while waiting in line and emailing myself.

I keep a folder on my Dropbox where I write the date, time and relevant title to whatever I take note of. When I come back later to read the notes, it feels like the first time I ever hear of them. It helps to put as much details as possible, days later the context has changed and reading the same note won't make much sense if there aren't enough details.

There are those who are blessed with great memory, and there are those of us who have to make use of the devices we have to remember. Even talking about your ideas is better then just thinking about them. Whatever your trick is, try to share your ideas any way possible.

The brain forgets. Who knows, you might not even remember reading this on my website. You might not even remember my blog tomorrow.


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