How do you remember the out-the-door details? Talk amongst yourselves.

The myriad little errands and details of family life. They're sometimes harder to remember than the big stuff. Here's how Duane keeps them top of mind:

I doubt I'm the only working parent who can't find his own two feet in the mornings when I'm rushing out the door. Often there's something I'm supposed to do while at work – make a call, pay a bill, mail a letter – and 99% of the time I'll just run out the door without it. Until I start leaving my car keys on the counter, on top of whatever it is I'm supposed to remember. Guaranteed way to not leave the house without it. Of course I may still forget about it after I get to work, but that's a different story :).

We've all got different ways we "tickle" our memories. I've got a bench by the front door that holds all the stuff to go out with me. That works well, but the bench usually looks like a junk heap.

I've also gotten into the habit of writing many things in my calendar twice: once for the actual event, and another time a few days earlier as a reminder. (Electronic calendars let you set reminders automatically.)

I also write down all sorts of stuff I used to just keep in my head: school form deadlines, stuff going on in friends' lives, things I've offhandedly said I would do ("sure, hon, I'll get the oil changed" or "I'll call Tara's mom and schedule a playdate"). It's not a perfect system, and I still find that the fragmented nature of time-after-parenthood distracts me, but I'm getting better. (And I have little excuse — both of my kids are now in school.)

How do you remember the little details?

Six things about which you may not realize you need reminders
Take notes during phone calls with friends and family


  1. Jennifer says

    I leave myself a message on the answering machine or cell phone. If it’s for work, I’ll call after hours and leave a message on my desk phone. Sometimes, just having that blinking light will remind me.

    I’ll also textmessage myself on my cell phone.

  2. Ivy says

    If it’s something I have to remember to take somewhere, I put it in the car or in my purse right away instead of waiting to load up before leaving. Like Jennifer, I txt myself sometimes. I make liberal use of appointments and tasks, with reminders, in various electronic calendars. Finally, I ask my daughter to help me remember. She looooves a chance to correct me when I forget things.

  3. Duane says

    I started doing it that way specifically to remember physical objects that I needed to bring, like a bill to be paid. It never dawned on me until just now that I could voice or text myself the details of the bill (“Pay electric bill $123.56″) and not have to worry about the actual bill.

  4. heidi y says

    I use the google calendar – love it, and I’ve sent myself emails to remember TO DO type stuff. I also keep sticky’s of recurring things (like LIBRary BKS DUE) and put it on our door the night before.

  5. Nancy says

    I use

    There’s a plug-in for gmail. So when I have my email open, there’s a column on the right with all of my reminders. I use this for tasks like “YMCA registration Tuesday at 6″ or “call town about sewer hook-up.”

    I also keep everything in my Outlook calendar and review it frequently. This is good for appointments and other events.

  6. melanie says

    I too use google calendar – have all my bill reminders, b-days, appointments. i also email or txt myself other random things… i try to put things into my bag that need attention, but they get forgotten.

    i have also signed up for and linked “remember the milk” a free to-do list service that appears to the right of your gmail inbox and on igoogle home page. it is more interactive than the plain to do list. (i have started listing people to thank and Christmas gift ideas too!)

    Love your Site!!

  7. Elana says

    Straight into the iPhone, or if I’m home, I write in on dry-erase marker on the glass front door (high enough that the kids can’t get at that part).

  8. Melanie says

    I use I Want Sandy ( to remind me of things, and make sure that any appointments are double recorded – in my work Outlook calendar (which also syncs to my PDA) as well as in my home kitchen calendar (paper version). I keep a sharpie tied on a long string hanging on the nail behind the calendar so I can always write down something important that’s coming up as I’m making the appointment/date.

  9. Monera Mason says

    Well Jott is a great little teck way to remember things.

    I often leave a green beg on the door with thing I need for the next day. Movies to return, stuff to mail out. It is so intrusive I never forget.

  10. Sandy says

    My life became 10-fold more complex after the birth of my 2nd a few months ago. And 20 times more, after returning to work. I am lucky to have counter-space next to the refrigerator. When I walk in, I place my handbag (accomodates laptop, notebook, pens, wallet, cell phone and small odds such as diaper, toy car and ready-to-feed formula bottle), my lunch pack and my breast pump next to the refrigerator, place the expressed milk in the refrigerator and put away my lunch box etc for cleaning. I root through my 4-yr old’s bag for notes and place it next to my handbag and place his empty lunch bag there too. Any paperwork I need to handle goes right into my handbag, so I can handle it while driving (yeah, I take my eyes off the road and risk life and limb) or wait until I get to work.

    Next morning, I pack my lunch, my son’s lunch, my pumping paraphernalia, cell phone and my laptop and we all run out the door.

    I imagine the table next to the shoe shelf beside the front door would serve the same purpose for us, but I know packing lunch for my son has become a daily routine, so now I pack myself a lunch (I used to frequent the cafeteria much more) as well as do not forget all the paperwork I need as it is already in my bag. And I force myself to pick up the breast pump bag which is incentive to keep supplying whatever little breast milk I can for the baby. Whew!

    I know my husband had it much easier keeping everything together yesterday when I had to leave home at 6 am and he had to just pack lunch for my son, and he marveled that it was right next to the refrigerator, so he got to pack it right after serving my son his breakfast cereal.

  11. queen41day says

    I used to staple a note around the handle of my purse if I had to remember to do something important. Bonus: you can’t lose the note unless you lose the purse.

  12. One Minute Blogger says

    I forgot things so often that I keep an extra house key in my car – that way when I’m warming up the car and remember something I need to grab, I don’t have to take the keys out of the ignition.

  13. Amy says

    If something’s important, and non-perishable, I’ll just put it in the car the minute I think about it (usually the night before) so that I can’t possibly forget it. I also use Google Calendar for everything, and can access it from my phone, so that’s really handy.

    Amy @

  14. barb says

    We have a table near the door. Everybody has a basket. Of course, that means we have to check the baskets as we leave…

  15. Cheryl says

    I have used the note attached to the purse strap reminder for years and it does work.
    I have found it very helpful to load everything in my vehicle the night before.
    To remember items like milk, I have found it very effective to tape a note to the middle of the steering wheel!!