Today, I present Joe’s memory-boosting tips for 2015.
I was going to offer them last year, but I forgot.
That alone should establish my credentials. Why take advice from a 30-something “memory expert” when you can get it from a somewhat-older person who is in the trenches every day — losing his car keys, forgetting important dates and yet still managing to be a semi-productive member of society?
Here are my top tips:
• Manage expectations.
Perfect recall doesn’t have to be the goal.
My brain might not be able to pinpoint the name of a guy I’ve known for 30 years, but it can get pretty darn close. As he approaches, it’ll tell me: “Oh, here comes acquaintance-whose-first-name-is-two-syllables-but-not-Richard-or-Thomas-and-has-a-daughter-in-Cleveland.”
The actual name will often come to me within 24 hours — only 23 hours, 59 minutes and 55 seconds after I needed it.
Still, such approximation will suffice in many instances, although I find that close relatives tend to resent being called cousin-on-my-father’s-side-who-met-her-third-husband-at-a-Star-Trek -convention.
• Beware of crossword puzzles.
Yes, they sharpen your mind, but that can backfire. When I’m trying to remember where I was supposed to be at 6 p.m. Thursday, all I can summon up is an 11-letter word for absent-minded. It’s not very helpful.
• Listen to your body.
I can forget vital information but remember trivia from long ago. But perhaps it’s not so trivial.
If the first thing you remember upon awakening is something a kid said to you on the school bus in third grade (this happens to me all the time), don’t just write it off as brain clutter. Your body might be trying to tell you something.
Perhaps remembering that the kid said you resemble a bird is a sign that you need to eat a diet richer in suet and sunflower seeds. Trust your brain to know what’s good for you.
A lot of my memory now resides in Google, where I store things I used to keep in my brain — such as the names of the actors who succeeded Curly in the Three Stooges. (Shemp Howard, Joe DeRita, Joe Besser — I had to look them up.)
I do retain enough facts to play along with the contestants on Jeopardy! and to regale women with obscure sports statistics.
• Don’t multitask.
In fact, don’t even task. Go to sleep instead. Often, you will awaken to find that you were supposed to be somewhere two hours ago. By then, it’s too late. Enjoy.