Struggling for creative ways to remember your to-do list? It might be time to break up with sticky notes, email reminders or scrawled notes on the back of your hand. A new Scientific American article recommends this potentially very effective mnemonic strategy: placing an unusual object in a specific place.
The method is based on research by Harvard behavioral scientist Todd Rogers, who divided a group of study participants in two, then told one group to grab a paper clip when exiting the lab and the other group to look for a small elephant statue. Both actions were meant to activate participants’ memory of a specific prompt. Participants who were asked to look for the more unusual elephant statue “were more likely to follow through” and remember the prompt.
Rogers told Scientific American that a reminder object, as it’s called, works best when it’s strange. It should also stand out from its usual context. “For a reminder to succeed,” Rogers said, “it has to capture your attention at the moment you can focus on the task.”
Think of it this way: Instead of grabbing for a pen and paper to jot down a quick reminder, associate a specific task — like sending an email — with an unusual object. Then place that object somewhere you’re guaranteed to notice it, ideally in the morning.
Read more on Scientific American.
Originally published at journal.thriveglobal.com