Don’t forget the Stradivarius … Simple tips to help you remember

iStockphoto: ivosevicv

 By Ian Wiseman

Being absentminded and forgetting where you put your car keys is stressful enough but when a $4 million 1673 Stradivarius cello is forgotten in the boot of a taxi, that is something else.

The renowned cellist Lynn Harrell left his $4 million Stradivarius in a taxi after a five-minute ride from 54th Street and Broadway to his apartment on West End Avenue, New York. It was only after the cab had driven away that Mr Harrell realized he had not retrieved his cello from the boot of the taxi.

Absentmindedness involves a breakdown at the point where attention and memory meet.  When attention and memory meet, what we are doing at the time is successfully encoded in the memory and can easily be recalled later. “The basis of absentmindedness is a failure between memory and attention,” says Daniel Schacter, author of The Seven Sins of Memory. “Usually when you are being absentminded, it’s that your conscious processing is focused on something other than the task at hand; you are thinking about something else.”

Simple tips to help you remember

Try these simple tips offered by Professor Grossberg of St. Louis University School of Medicine:

  1. Simplify your life. “Don’t be overwhelmed by too many things at once, and take tasks one at a time.”
  2. Get proper rest and nutrition so you are in a well-rested frame of mind.
  3. Keep to a schedule. “People who stick to a schedule are less absentminded than people who don’t.”
  4. Get plenty of exercise, both physical and mental. “Challenge the brain in new and creative ways throughout life,” says Grossberg.  “Join a book club, learn to play chess, or use your right hand instead of your left if you’re left-handed.”
  5. Keep items that you use regularly, in the same place.
  6. Make effective use of cues and reminders, like sticky notes or a calendar. In the case of Lynn Harrell if he had written down that he needed to get his cello out of the trunk of the cab, he wouldn’t have forgotten it.

Now where did I put my glasses?

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