When I heard about my colleague misplacing her phone and later finding it in the fridge, it made me smile. Although I haven’t done exactly that, most of us can certainly relate to that scattered feeling and have similar anecdotes.
We surely all know the feeling of walking into a room and not knowing what we were looking for. But have you ever opened new tabs on your browser only to realize you forgot what you were going to search? More and more often I find myself in that situation.
And while these short lapses in memory used to be a rare but common part of life, it is an unsettling feeling to notice them more and more or to know that they have in fact increased not only for me but for a lot of people around me in recent times.
Despite the frightening feeling of struggling to come up with words or remember where you put your keys, forgetting is part of the nature of memory and how human brains work. In an interview with CBC Radio Canada, neuroscientist and Alzheimer’s-researcher Lisa Genova stated that forgetting things is actually an important part of how memory works:
“We do need to forget the things that are habitual, inconsequential, routine. We want the things that matter to exist in the foreground and the stuff that doesn't matter to go into the background.”
This means that our brains constantly get rid of information we no longer need, just like we declutter our wardrobes every now and then. Genova goes on to explain that memory is not perfect, which might explain why our brains sometimes judge the location of our glasses or our phones as unimportant information.
But while we should embrace imperfection, there are several factors that can make remembering things more difficult – more so in uncertain times, such as a global pandemic. Every time I mention this type of experiences or when I lose my train of thought and blame the “pandemic brain”, my friends and colleagues can mostly relate to my narrations.
The forgetfulness and the difficulty to focus have become a recurring theme in social media platforms and conventional outlets, with an article in The Guardian explaining the phenomenon of “pandemic brain”: our brains have suffered from the uncertainty and isolation as well as quickly adapted to these new circumstances of social distancing and working from home.
Several aspects of life can cause or worsen forgetfulness, such as:
Especially the toll the pandemic has taken on our mental health – maybe in combination with another of the above-mentioned factors – has affected our capability to concentrate on the tasks at hand and in consequence to remember them.
The change to working from home doesn’t only entail challenges but also brings opportunities to make our daily routines healthier. We want to share a few recommendations that have helped the members of our team stay healthy and sane in recent times:
Putting those thoughts, tasks, and priorities in order is important to come up with a plan to reach your goals – or just get through a busy day without having to recover your phone from inside the fridge.