Oh, to be young again – when we could remember most anything we wanted. After a holiday vacation at school, we could still remember our locker combinations. We could remember the names of even casual acquaintances. We could remember homework assignments. It never hurt to write them down, but the fact is that many of us could remember these details without the benefit of checking what we had written down – or even writing them down as a backup or failsafe plan.
True, we had fewer things to remember at that earlier age, and our memory banks did not have so much stored in them as they do today. In pre-GPS days, we could find our way to familiar places – even if we had not been there in a while – just because we remembered how to get there. We could ride our bikes, walk, or have someone drive us to a friend’s house or a store because we knew where it was – without checking the address or a map first (or going online for directions).
Now, for a reality check. We have scores of things to remember each day – passwords, usernames, account numbers, credit card numbers, bank accounts, appointments, scheduled maintenance times for our home appliances and vehicles, and more.
Unless someone possesses great organizational skills and the recall memory to go with it, we need help for remembering this mountain of information we need to retain, access, and recall. The best way to do this is by taking notes.
When we were introduced to notetaking and outlining in grade school, many of us could not imagine why we would ever need it – after all, we could remember what we needed to know. There came a time, however, when we appreciated the value of what we had learned. We began to appreciate that we couldn’t always remember for quick recall what was important to us.
Then we entered the business world. Remembering names, faces, appointments, dates, and more became important for our success, but we couldn’t always rely just on our memory for recall to make it happen for us. We needed the help of written reminders.
When we meet people and introduce ourselves to each other, one of the reasons we don’t remember the names as we hear them is because we don’t focus on remembering them, Also, we are in the moment and thinking of what we want to learn from them and what we want to say. It isn’t long before we have totally forgotten their names. Sometimes this is almost instantaneous because we never really heard them to begin with. So, how do we do a better job at remembering new names when we hear them. Simple, really.
We write down names when we hear them, If we have to ask for them again to make sure we are writing them down – and spelling them correctly – that’s OK. Just do it at the time of the introduction and not a few minutes into the conversation as if we weren’t paying attention or that their names didn’t matter that much to us when we initially heard them.
When it comes to our aging in place clients, we must take good notes and get in the habit of writing down their name and any other information they share with us when we initially hear it. This could be on a phone call, at a home show booth, or in their home. The location doesn’t matter, but the initial encounter does. We must act responsibly and note their names so that we never have to ask for them again. Anytime we forget, we simply refer to what we have written down (along with pronunciation keys if this is necessary) and we can address them by name as if we had remembered it all along.
When we are reviewing the client’s living space and noting what we observe along with what we think we want to do to improve it, we can’t rely just on our impressions. We must make written notes. We can supplement those with photos (on our phones, tablets, or cameras), checklists, and audio notes we record on the spot. Regardless, we should never leave the client’s property without a record of what we have observed and witnessed.
When we interview the client about their needs, abilities, and requirements, we have to take complete notes. A day or two later when we begin to formulate our plan of action, we can’t rely on what we remember without having something to refer to as a memory aid. It’s possible that we might be working on a couple of proposals at the same time, and we can’t afford to blur the details or confuse one situation with another. Accuracy is important in suggesting the appropriate solution to address a need.