Forgetting to Remember and Remembering to Forget

I like to believe that I am a timely worker, but there are some occasional moments where I feel like I want to put off my responsibilities and relax. In such moments, my internal monologue goes a little something like this:

- Hey I think you really ought to work on that paper due next week.

- I know, but there’s still a week…

- You say that now but a week is going to fly by before you know it. Besides, it’s better to start early.

There is some validity to what my inner conscience often tries to tell me, and the idea that one should start early is supported by research. Hermann Ebbinghaus is known for his formula on forgetting, R = e^(-t/s) (R being memory, t as time and s for how strong the memory is). Based on this formula and some tests, he plotted the forgetting curve, which graphically represents how much we forget as time goes by.

Every day we take in a plethora of new information – in between remembering your friends’ birthdays and buying groceries, the content you learned in class gets ‘washed out’ little by little. In other words, the more you put off working on your assignment, the harder it will be to recall the content of your classes, and the longer it will take to complete the assignment – have you ever forgotten to write down that friend’s phone number immediately after (s)he gave it to you, and when you finally decide to call them, you just can’t remember?

Sure, you may have taken notes during class, which would essentially be a great “cheat sheet” in doing your assignment. But trust me, even the notes you wrote for yourself would start to read like gibberish if you don’t immediately remind yourself of the context in which they were written and what the notes stand for.

You know what they say… Slow and steady wins the race – especially if you start early. So even if you feel like postponing your work, you are probably better off (and are more likely to win the race – high five to the tortoise) by working on it the day it’s assigned!



*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.

Moeka Komachi

About Moeka Komachi

"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." - Maya Angelou

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