Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Refresh technique

The technique I use for remembering every day that passes has developed since I began this process on 17 December 2011. Here I will describe my current technique for refreshing the images pinned to my mental calendar. See the post My mental calendar for details of how my calendar is arranged and the post How it began for information on how I form images.

If you are interested in trying the same process, you might like to browse through my past posts tagged How I remember to see how my technique has changed as the number of days I am dealing with has grown. These posts include further details on how I form images.

The technique I will describe here is for refreshing a selection of the images every day so I don't forget them. This technique was forced on me as my previous technique broke down because it took too long and wasn't sustainable. I have been following this new technique since 4 July 2013.

When I first wake up, I take today's date and think back to 6 months before. So today being Wednesday 23 October, I think back to 23 April, which I know - because I remember - was a Tuesday. I recall the image for that day and the following day to create a two day window that ends on the same day of the week as today. For some months, I'll have to move to the correct days in the week for this alignment.

From refreshing Wednesday 24 April, I add 6 days to give me the date Tuesday 30 April and again refresh the Tuesday and Wednesday images.

I continue this process of passing a two-day window over each week until I reach about a month ago. In this case, that brings me to Tuesday 24 September. I back up to 23 September to be on the same date as today and then refresh the images for each consecutive day until I reach today. That is, I review all of images for the past month.

In total that's around 70 images, which need only take a few minutes. It often takes longer as I like to explore the memories a little and sometimes have to scramble around to find an elusive image. There are various postings here tagged "lost images" on how I've managed to recover those that first eluded me.

That is the first phase of my review completed.

Then at some point during the day - perhaps while getting washed, cycling to work, going for run, driving or some other free mental time - I'll run through the images for the same date each month from January 2011. So in this case I begin with 23 January 2011, then move on through 23 February, 23 March and so on, right up until the present day. In some cases this will repeat some of the reviews I've already done. I've worked out a quick and easy way to orientate myself through the days in the week in this phase of the review, described here.

In this way I am refreshing one image per month for periods older than 6 months. Continuing to the present day exercises my recall muscles and helps to build associations between images for days separated by a month.

January 2011 is before I began this process of remembering every day that passes on 17 December 2011 and many days during this period have no images associated with them, so I recall the nearest. It is a habit I have got into, partly to remember what happened during 2011, and partly because the contrast with the period when I do have images for every single day is stark and helps to motivate me to continue.

This is the second phase of my review.

UPDATE 28 December 2014: I have recently modified the second phase of my review, to include two consecutive days per month, which I refresh over two days. With over three years of memory tags, this seems more manageable. More details here.

Generally, though not always, at some point during the day, I'll also think back to where I was a year ago, two years ago and sometimes back further, occasionally as far back as my early childhood. In this remembering I can only say for certain what I was doing a year ago or perhaps two, but I think it is important to remember and recall my life before I began this process of remembering every day that passes.

Finally, as I lay down to sleep I run through the images for the past month once more, adding in the image for the day just lived that will gradually become entrenched on my mental calendar as the day moves inexorably back through the weeks, months and years.

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