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After tramautic brain injury, this man relies on these productivity tips

The strategies Thomas Dixon developed aren't intended to make his life easier, he says. They're intended to make his life possible.

This is a guest post by Thomas Dixon, who recently earned a Masters of Education in Educational Psychology from Temple University. A longer essay about his experience with episodic memory malfunction was featured as the cover story of a recent issue of Mensa Bulletin.
I was hit by a car Nov. 22, 2010, and sustained a type of traumatic brain injury that caused me to develop episodic memory loss. I’ve since been externalizing my own memory across a number of devices, as my biological memory has become deeply compromised.

Fortunately, we live in a time where handheld devices abound, where, in tandem with strategies to effectively make use of them, we can be more productive, and feel enabled to proceed with whatever it is we care to do with our lives.

(Note: It is important to make clear before proceeding that each injury may be different, and also that one individual’s approaches may need to be adjusted to be a “better fit.” Rather than focus on faithfulness to my approaches, I hope that any readers may feel inspired to modify my approaches in ways that better suit their own areas of need and, therefore, potential gain.)

Each point below explores both “what” I do, and “why” I do it.

What: I use a private Twitter account for my episodic memory.

  • Why: An external, digital memory is easily searchable. Twitter allows me to download all of my tweets into a single file, and I may readily search it for all sorts of information. It’s instantly backed-up, given that I tweet it, and I also cannot “lose” my Twitter feed. As a result of this strategy, I know rapidly what I have done every single day since the end of 2010, as I have cared to make note of it.

What: I tend to text and/or email people rather than to speak on the phone.

  • Why: An “instant record” is created in the act of texting and/or emailing, and so I do not need to spend time to make note of what had been said during a call.

What: I have both daily and recurring reminders, aside from one-time appointments.

  • Why: As I take medicine, I am able to delete the specific reminder when my medicine is in my mouth, and then I do not have to wonder if I had taken the medicine on a given day, as I may look at my phone’s calendar and note that the reminder isn’t “present.” Monthly reminders to pay specific bills also apply in this way.

What: I will email myself to handle items that are not “time-sensitive.”

  • Why: I know that I may review my emails whenever I have the time to do so. If something is not “urgent,” but I still do have to address it, then emailing allows me to be sure that I cannot forget it, as it will be in my inbox, there for me when I am ready for it.

As I had written in the “Note”above, my hope is that you have benefited from reading what my strategies have provided me, and that you may consider just how these strategies may be of use to you. I welcome your suggestions and feedback at mrthomasdixon@gmail.com. Cheers!

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