Fixing Our Absent-Minded And Forgetful Selves

Fixing Our Absent-Minded And Forgetful Selves

Have you ever had a period of time where all you did was lose and forget everything? Being absent-minded is tough. For the past four months, I've been wondering whether I'm in the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease or something of that nature. It makes me worried. Wait, what was I saying again?

Just the other day, I brought my tennis bag to work so I could go directly to the club and meet a client. When I opened the bag in the locker room, there were no shorts, only sweat pants.  Not ideal in this mini-70 degree heat wave we're having, but doable.  As I rummaged through my bag further, I discovered I had no shoes either!  No wonder why my bag was so light, I thought to myself in retrospect.

Walking out of the locker room and to the front desk, I asked Peter whether they had any demo shoes or left-overs. Unfortunately there were none, and as I waited for Peter to feign a thorough search, I could see my client stretching on the court waiting for me.  Drat, no time to go home and fetch.  Instead, I ponied up $90 bucks and bought a brand new pair of tennis shoes right there, even though I literally have five pairs at home!

Fixing Our Absent-Minded And Forgetful Selves

The best way to fix our absent-minded and forgetful selves is to slow down and be more mindful.

The worst part about this story is that it's not the first time this has happened. In my rush to get out the door and catch the bus another morning last year, I also ended up at a different club to meet a client with no tennis shoes. That adventure cost me $130, because all they had were the latest and greatest Nike Air Court Ballistics endorsed by Rafael Nadal! What a burn.

Over the past four months, I've lost my sunglasses ($200), wallet (pain in the ass), flip flops ($65), keys (they are somewhere in the house), and bought new $90 shoes all because I was in a rush. Furthermore, because I was pressed for time getting to a meeting, I backed out of my house too quickly and crunched my passenger side mirror to bits.  That was a nice $145 bill.  It's so frustrating, and losing and breaking things is partly the reason why I want to be a minimalist.  If I have nothing, I can't lose or break anything!

Slow Down, Slow Down Cowboy

Every single lost item and extraneous expense is due to being in a rush. I failed to pack for my vacation the night before. This caused me to jolt out the door at 7:00am once the taxi cab arrived and in the process, I misplaced my keys. I didn't zip up my tennis bag after changing. As a result, my wallet fell out. I didn't pack my bag with shoes because I've done it countless times before and just assumed I did so.  I wasn't about to miss my intermittent bus, and ended up paying $90 as a result.

It's a real bummer not being able to drive to work like I did for 7 years, three years ago. I could just chuck everything in the trunk and never have to worry.  Having a car was like having a traveling locker room! Three years ago, we were stripped of our free $400/month parking and I refused to pay to continue. Well boo hoo. 

I've just got to learn to adapt and live with my choices. But, you got to admit, $400 a month for parking is ridiculous. Now that I think about it, maybe here's some reason to rejoice. The $4,080 I save a year ($4,800 minus $720 for yearly bus pas) from not paying for parking makes up for all these things I'm losing.

Maybe I Don't Care As Much About Money Anymore

I'm losing everything because I'm careless and not being mindful about my things.  It's not a good feeling always being in a rush. Since everything is logical, perhaps the reason why I'm losing things left and right is because I simply don't care as much about my money anymore? 

Savings and investments are automated, and there's nothing really left to do if I'm operating within the confines of my monthly budget.  I don't really mind wasting $90-$130 on shoes and $200 on sunglasses for if I did, I wouldn't lose them!

Seriously, if I worked for only $9 an hour, it would take 25 hours of work to be able to buy those $200 sunglasses I lost.  If I had to save for 6 months to be able to comfortably afford a new pair of shoes, there's no way I would ever forget them. 

Those polarized Maui Jim's shades cost a lot of money.  What the hell.  Oh well, I just bought another pair after I lost my Ray Ban Aviators ($160) last year.  Crap, I'm sensing a pattern that is going deeper than just this past quarter!

Downside To Having Enough Money

Having too much disposable income as a reason for losing things and buying things doesn't seem right and I'm going to take a step back a little. I needed to buy the tennis shoes because the client was already waiting for me.  I wasn't about to tell him to wait 30 minutes as I go home and get my gear. 

Besides, tennis shoes wear out in 3-4 months for me.  I'll eventually need a new pair anyway.  It's just a burn to spend money at a time I don't need to because of carelessness.

As for losing the other stuff, it grates me because I hate wasting money.  But, I guess I don't hate wasting money as much as not being mindful and the annoyance of spending an extra minute running through my things to make sure everything is there.

Related: The Biggest Downside Of Paying Off A Mortgage

What I Plan To Do From Now On

From now on, to fix my absent-minded self, I'm going to do several things. Perhaps you should too if you have a propensity to forget and lose things.

1) Physically write out checklists of the three most common things you do.  In my case, I will write a checklist for my tennis bag, work bag, and vacation bag i.e. Tennis bag check list: rackets, shoes, shades, shorts, t-shirt, ankle braces, socks, grip, elbow sleeve, hat, make sure all zippers are closed after each change.

2) Before rushing out the door to anywhere, catch yourself and go through the checklist for one minute before leaving.  Spending a minute could save you hours of painful looking or replacing, such as going to the DMV to get your driver's licensed replaced.

3) Mark one or two places where you will always set your things down.  Keys, wallet, and cellphone should all be placed on a specific table every time you come home.  Once you condition yourself, you'll see yourself misplacing less things.

4) Appreciate your money and pretend that you are a starving student who makes an under minimum wage $3 bucks an hour (my own wage when I was in HS).  At $3 an hour, I'd have to work 70 hours to afford them shades I lost!

5) Slowdown in general.  If you are like me and believe 5 minutes early means on time, you've got to just plan better and wake up that much earlier.

Surely, these five things will help me be less absent-minded. Further, doing a pre-mortem on things is important too.

Take Back Control

I feel like I'm an overloaded truck, driving 75 miles per hour down a windy road with just a loosely bound net covering all the cargo.  Things inevitably get jostled around and break, and sometimes cargo just falls out.  From now on, I'm going to slow down, lighten the load, and tighten the tarp.  I'll get to where I'm going eventually.

Related: The Health Benefits Of Early Retirement Are Priceless

Readers, ever go through a period of losing and forgetting things? Are you absent-minded? Wallet, keys, sunglasses… they have to be the most common things to lose right?  Wouldn't you pay $100 for a pair of tennis shoes if your client was waiting on the court instead of make him wait 30 minutes or cancel?

Note: The picture is of my new shoes I had to buy, accompanied with a book I'm supposed to review about negotiations.  Thought it was a nice play on words. Updated for 2016 and beyond. 

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31 thoughts on “Fixing Our Absent-Minded And Forgetful Selves”

  1. I’ve been so absentminded lately. I’m a junior in college. Yesterday marked the fourth time I got fined for parking in employee’s spaces, which are available for students at night and one of which is super close to my dorm. I’m so tired of not having my stuff together. I’ve lost things a lot but they always came back to me, so I did not really have to pay extra. But the parking tickets drive me insane. I’m just so forgetful. I told myself I’d park there just to go to my room for a bit, and I’d return, but I ended up just forget. There are things on this test that just flew right over my head too, and I still get 7 hours of sleep every day. I don’t know why. I used to be so sharp and now I’m so absentminded…

  2. Hi Sam,

    Thank you for writing this. I really needed to hear someone tell me to slow down. I’m careless, forgetful and I lose things. It’s painful and downright embarrassing for me.

    I’m going to start making checklists (ironically this is also time consuming but I suppose it only needs to be made once or twice) and creating habits.


  3. Keys are always an issue to me…

    The tennis shoes…yeah, you’ll wear them at some point.

    I make check lists in Excel. Groceries, kid stuff, blogging stuff…and I have those sticky notes all over my computer.

    If you ever become less time-starved, I think all of this will be easier. Have you tried Peapod? It could simplify your grocery shopping….

  4. Money Reasons

    I would have done the same thing! Why piss a client off!

    My big problem is that I’m going downstairs to get something, then I get interrupted by my wife or kids… forgetting what I went down for in the first place. Then I go back upstairs and that’s when I remember what I went down for, so I have to do the entire journey again… grrrr.

  5. Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter

    I seem to have just become addicted to list making. I use remember the milk and it works great. I just check the list multiple times a day and I am good. I guess this means I am not using my brain like I should.

  6. You can try meditation to improve your concentration. The short attention span world we live in doesn’t help so you have to actively improve your concentration.

    Also not sure if you are drinking much or partaking in other “indulgences”- sometimes too much of that can impact short term memory and cause forgetfulness.


  7. 20 and Engaged

    Checklists and a planner are my best friends. They help me get a lot of things done. I need to go back to that too.

  8. Lot of things going on here. Too much on your plate, perhaps too much disposable income. Good if you think about it. Do you want to be bored and poor? Speaking about your problem and creating your checklist looks like great action items. However, if you are rushing around so much, you may miss smelling the roses. Slow down just a bit and take a breath.

    1. I definitely don’t want to be bored and poor. I think I’ll shrink my monthly budget so I can feel a little more tight with money.

      ps I love to smell every fragrant flower I walk by.

  9. It sounds like you just need to slow down a bit. ;) Of course, your forgetfulness could also just be a phase. I know that on days that I’m rushing, I’m much more likely to forget things. But lists and regular habits keep most things in check for me.

  10. I was just thinking about this yesterday when I was driving to pick up my kids from basketball camp. I left at a leisurely pace and had plenty of time. I thought “this is really nice”. I enjoyed listening to the radio instead of getting angry with slow drivers and such. Having just five more minutes allocated to an activity made a huge difference.

    Unfortunately, that pleasant driving experience is an anomaly.

    I am constantly rushing out the door. Things don’t get put away like they should so I am always looking for things. It drives me crazy. If you are talking about being forgetful, I have moved on from forgetful into the ‘stupid’ category. We celebrated Father’s Day this past Sunday because I told everyone it was Father’s Day and I truly it believed it was. This taught me I have got to slow down.

  11. Darwin's Money

    Google calendar and my iphone save my life. recurring reminders in the calendar pop up on my iphone and when something new strikes like inspiration or an “oh shit” moment, I can just email myself a reminder and i get to it later.

  12. Sorry to hear you’ve been losing things. Not being able to find things is so frustrating. My mother is SO bad at losing things even within one room and it drove me nuts when I lived with her. Mostly it was because she was always changing bags/purses and would forget which bag had which items. The positive is that I became hyper aware of where I put my own stuff because I didn’t want to deal with the frustrations my mom did every day. I also lost some really sentimental things due to my own carelessness and didn’t want to lose anything else.

    I use checklists every time I travel and also only use one bag for work and make sure I have my essentials before leaving the house. This does cause my hubbie to complain I’m slow though! Before you go from place to place try getting in the habit of looking around your chair and on the floor for things that may have fallen out. I’ve caught a few things that way which otherwise would have been gone for good. You have a good list of tips, best of luck!

  13. When I’m in a hurry I can be pretty forgetful. The other day I showed up at my friend’s place out of town without packing much clothes at all. I had to go to the mall just to buy clothes to wear!

    I’ve also left my wallet behind before as well. I once left my wallet at a restaurant beside my home. An hour later somebody knocked on my door. It was a guy holding my wallet.

    I find when I’m too forgetful the thing is that I need to take a deep breath and slow down.

  14. Man, you are really forgetful. I think it’s a symptom of something else. You probably have way too many things on your plate. I’m forgetful also, but I think I’m a lot better lately. If I really have something to do, I will write it down. That helps a lot.
    This week I couldn’t find my camera battery charger. The last time I used it was 4 months ago and I couldn’t find it in any of the usual places. It took almost 2 weeks, but it turned up in my wife’s bedside table. I used to be able to depend on her, but now she is getting forgetful too!

  15. Although I may be old enough to have Alzheimer’s, I avoid most of the issues by being very deliberate in my habits. In other words I embrace your number #3. If I need to take anything with me, I put it with my attache. By being very deliberate, I avoid a lot of anguish. BTW, I have lost things, misplaced and forgot things, but it is fairly rare.

  16. It seems like I go through a period like this every 2 or so years – and it’s really hard to plug the drain and get back on track – Because of habits, i’ve been able to keep track of the most important stuff (wallet, keys) and havent misplaced those in years. It really grates me too when I spend money I dont have to spend.

  17. Just get into the habit of putting together your gym bag the night before- the bag should have shoes, clothes, water and extra balls. Making habits to make sets of things you need is key. Whenever I plan for mountain hikes or adventure races I make a mental checklist of everything I’m going to use and then pack accordingly. 99% of the time all the needed stuff is there, if not then it’s time to make do.

    If you forgot shoes then buy another pair- like you said you can use them later. Losing your wallet and sunglasses by leaving a bag zipper open is just plain dumb carelessness that should have been avoided. That being said, I did lose a pair of Maui Jim’s when kite surfing and taking a nasty wipe out that made the glasses disappear. Even though I tried to look for them for 15 minutes it seemed like they were claimed by Poseidon… My fix for this is to buy some good straps like I should have done from the start!


  18. I go through these periods and I find that it’s pretty directly related to stress. For me, being stressed is pretty counter productive because I loose sight of details AND loose the forest for the trees – worst of both worlds.

    Checklists and slowing down are a big help but you also need to think about WHY you’re rushing and perhaps try to address that? I’m no expert, but it usually helps to short circuit the forgetting period. I try to also make a point of keeping things in habitual spots, packing my bags the night before and checking them day of to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything. It catches about 90% of my potential mistakes.

    I would have absolutely bought the shoes if I had a client waiting. An upset client is worse than spending $100 on shoes.

    1. I’m honestly not sure if I’m more stressed. I’m just busier and juggling too much stuff, and going out with too many people. There was one week I went out every night until 10:30-11:15pm after starting work at 7:15am. I didn’t know what home was!

  19. Mike - Saving Money Today

    Hey Sam,

    I’ve been pretty forgetful myself lately, though luckily it hasn’t cost me in the wallet as much as you. I agree with the need to slow down. Lately I just feel like a chicken with its head cut off and been having trouble keeping up with everything. Need to take a few days off for some R and R.

    #3 is a great suggestion. I try to keep my keys, wallet, etc in the same place all the time. If I leave them somewhere different it throws off my entire routine.

    1. I haven’t lost my wallet in 10+ years, or forever. It was all because of this new tennis bag I bought, where i carry it like a back pack and if the zipper doesn’t close, things fall out. Poorly designed, butnow i know.

  20. My fiance is the absolute WORST at losing/forgetting things – especially wallet, sunglasses and phone. It’s beyond frustrating. He’s been better lately, but you’re right – it’s inconvenient and can be freaking expensive. He also had a period where he lost/broke a bunch of cell phones in quick succession – another reason we’ve always kept him on prepay rather than a contract, apart from the fact it also prevents him overspending.

    1. Jon - Free Money Wisdom

      My girlfriend refuses to buy expensive sunglasses because she breaks or loses them. She used to be horrible at losing stuff, thankfully now she rarely does. She is as frugal as me — so that’s a plus. You should write out a detailed list of how much it has cost him for the items he has lost and had to replaced. It may sober him and give him a more tangible twinge of regret than just swiping his credit card whenever he loses something.

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