Memory Repository 🧠

@MemoryRepository | Pharmacy Student 💊 Digital Garden | Productivity | Studying | Writing | PKM | Life | I deposit bits of knowledge, learnings and memories into this memory repository. #100Days

Should we document and retain unhappy events in a journal?

Reading time: 1-2 min

Should unhappy events be documented in your journal? I asked this question today after such an event happened.

Writing and reflecting in a journal or in your daily notes is a great way to clear your mind. It's a time to offload your thoughts onto paper- to cast into ink, visible in front of you, no longer burdening your memory. It's easier to reflect on the event with a clear mind. Your emotions and thoughts come pouring out of your pen (or your fingertips on a keyboard)- you no longer have to keep it in your heart or mind.

Having said that, this leaves 'residues' of unhappy memories in your journal system, ready to be seen and re-discovered at a future date. Arguably, this could be a way for your future self to interpret the priorities and mental state of your past self. However, they serve as a reminder, an 'entry hook' to retrieving the memories in your actual brain of negative times and negative events. Whether that's a positive or negative is open to interpretation.

Should we be deleting or archiving such entries, such that it is impossible or difficult for our future self to view them without significant intention? This allows our immediate selves to spill everything bottled up in our mind, but allows our future self to forget these negative events and focus on the positives of our life.

I'm conflicted on this.

Historically, I document such events. (Well. I document most life happenings.) Now, I'm debating whether I should stop this action, or at least archive them so that it's difficult for me to re-access them without great desire and intention.

Recording how we spend our time; What is a meaningful activity?

Reading time: 1 min

Read "My Life in Months 🗓️" by Alicia's Notes (@lissy93) today.

The piece details how the author spent their life as a breakdown in month time units.

I often wonder about how I'm spending the time I have in my life too. I therefore tracking how I spend every day.

I think these methods of representing how you spend your time are good ways of condensing this information into a comprehensible form. It shows exactly what you are doing with your time and allows you to reflect on it.

Does it match what you want, both in an 'ideal' sense and a 'happiness/fulfillment' sense?

A quote from the author:

"I am now having an mini existential crisis after seeing how much of my life I have spent on relatively meaningless activities!"

I'm now questioning: What is a meaningful activity? How does one measure or determine which activities in their life are meaningful?

I think my answer would be something around: the activities which bring both my present and future self the most happiness and fulfillment.

What would be your answer?

Get enough calcium (and vitamin D) and exercise to prevent osteoporosis

Reading time: 1-2 min

Osteoporosis is the 'thinning' of the internal scaffolding our bones. Our bones consist of a porous scaffold as its architecture. In osteoporosis, these scaffolds have weaken by thinning and have becoming more porous, meaning decreased bone mass. This is a 'silent' disease- there are no symptoms until a fracture occurs (most often in your spine or hip bone).

It is estimated to affect 200 million people worldwide. i.e. it's quite common. While it's most common in the elderly, those in their 20s should be concerned with starting on their lifelong prevention measures too.

Osteoporosis can be prevented by maximising your bone mass and maintaining your bone mass as you continue to age. Your bones will reach its maximal mass (peak bone density) at age 25-30. Your bones will start decreasing in density by age 40.

You can help your body reach maximal bone density by taking in sufficient calcium and vitamin D and doing regular weight-bearing and balance exercises. (Calcium supplements (with vitamin D) are effective. Do be careful if you have gastrointestinal disorders though.) These measures also help prevent bone density loss.

These IS pharmacological treatment for osteoporosis (very effective too) but it's always better to prevent than to treat.

The gratifying "rush" from solving a problem

Reading time: 1-2 min

The "rush" from successfully solving a difficult problem is a highly effective process indicator which motivates you to continue working on whatever you are doing.

Encountered this phenomenon just an hour ago. I was stuck on a difficult assignment (one on statistics). I could hear my head exploding when I first read the question scenario. I was stuck on it for perhaps half an hour, before I took a 5-10 minute break (see Pomodoro timer, although I don't strictly adhere to it). Afterwards, utilising productivity by procrastination, soon after I returned to work, it hit me. The glowing idea lightbulb appeared above my ahead (and then dropped onto the floor, shattering and spraying glass everywhere) and I was able to solve the problem. Immediately following that, I got a massive gratification rush and wanted to continue.

(To my future self)
I'd like to look into what happens in your brain when you successfully solve a difficult problem; what causes this gratifying feeling? Surely it's related to a "reward" system and some sort of pleasant chemical (neurotransmitter) release. Is this a good "positive feedback" loop for work?

Identify your process bottlenecks

Reading time: 2 min

Worked at the hospital today. Did some vaccine preparation. Just like in this, vaccine preparation is a process.

In the chain of steps in the process that is vaccine preparation, from taking the vials from the refrigerator, to doing the documentation, to preparing the labels, to scanning into the hospital computer system, to preparing the syringes, preparing normal saline (the liquid used to dilute the liquid in the vial), to reconstituting the vaccine inside the vial, to withdrawing it into syringes for injection, to checking the volume and for bubbles and other foreign matters, to affixing labels and placing it into "ready-for-use" boxes for the nurses, to scanning it again into the hospital system...

With the massive number of people coming in and our limited time and workforce, any one process can become a "bottleneck" for the entire process, where either variation in the rate of completion of the step afterwards or the step before or just sheer overworking any one step step can slow the entire process down.

I was the bottleneck during some of the time, unable to complete the dispensing, checking and label affixing process before a queue for the ready-to-use vaccines starts appearing. Thank goodness I have co-workers with me, to help relieve my steps by switching over to help with my step when a queue starts appearing. I am truly grateful for their presence and help.

It's importance to look at the entire system and identify bottlenecks in our life processes, rather than just trying to optimise one step in the entire system.

Again, there's the problem of "our time is limited".

Also, I entered the clinical path.

Working past bedtime is taking out a time debt from your future self, paid with interest

Reading time: 2 min

I put great value and importance into my time, for it is limited. Yet, for years of my (recent) life, I've been keeping this poor practice up, taking precious time away from my future self:

When I have a large number of projects and tasks queued and due soon (e.g. in this scenario), I may choose to push my bedtime back, to temporarily gain more time my current self can use. The problem with this is that the 'large number' of projects and tasks usually cannot be digested down in just a day. As a result, I end up pushing my sleep schedule further and further back, deep into the night (or rather the morning of the next day), and keeping it there at a self-defined 'maximal limit' (say, 8 am next morning) until some days after I digest down my queued tasks list.

Following such a period, I will then engage in a period of highly variable sleep times, from sleeping in the morning (of the next day), to snoozing in the afternoon, to sleeping in the evening, and then back to sleeping far, far past midnight.

This practice destroys my sleep schedule and disrupts my circadian rhythm (which regulates your 24-hour sleep cycles), decreasing sleep quality, and therefore raising my sleep duration requirement.

The fatigue generated and lack of focus from the lack of sleep likely decreases my productivity as well.

This probably harms my health as well, decreasing my physical and mental well-being, (and probably shortening the time I have in my future). Taking time from 'sleep time' is taking out a time debt from your future self, to be paid with massive interest.

  • I take more time to complete work due to lower productivity
  • I require more time asleep to compensate for the generated fatigue and poor sleep quality
  • I'm harming my health and decreasing the time I have in my future

I have to stop.

Task managers bring order, a place to start, and sets your priorities straight

Reading time: 1-2 min

Due to the massive number of tasks and projects queued up, I've completely fallen behind in maintaining my task manager. (I use Things 3; not sponsored.)

I have to rebuild a new temporary one, consisting of my projects and tasks organised by "do date", with a deadline date tacked on in my Standard Notes daily notes for the next week or two, to digest these down. I think this seriously showcases the role task managers play in one's life. Here are the problems I'm encountering with a dysfunctional task manager:

  1. Not knowing where to start
  2. Not knowing what there is to do
  3. Not knowing what has to be done each day
  4. And it’s looming over my head with guilt because you're not working or starting to work (and it's not a good 'intentional' rest)

It's oh so important to keep your main task manager updated, clutter free, a task and a do date and deadline date for each. Equally important to keep your journal / notes system uncluttered and usable. Clutter and disorganisation discourages the use of systems, defeating their purpose.

After doing this 'cleaning', I should reaffirm my priorities and realign my projects, tasks and time allocation accordingly.

Writing forces you to read

Reading time: 1 min

In writing this blog, I learned that writing really forces you to read. Reading becomes a medium through which you learn more about the underlying phenomenon in various life happenings, a medium through which you research your points and find other perspectives, and a medium through which you find different topics and bits of knowledge to connect your writing to.

This is self-reinforcing, as you should write as you read or soon after you read to capture your thoughts and what you learned.

Oh, quite the UI overhaul on Listed. I like it so far. The new landing page for each author is nice and clean. Seems to have broken the images though, although I think the new fixed, smaller portraits are better than the previously massive heading photo. (It's customisable though. Can revert to a banner style in settings.)

The new settings page looks amazing.


Add sufficient detail to notes for your future self

Reading time: 1 min

I resumed working on data analysis today for a side project.

This was very true and applicable today.

We had no idea where to continue and where we left off, despite me leaving comments and colour keys to mark future plans and where we left off. We then spent almost an hour getting our grasp on how to continue. My past instructions for my current self were not comprehensive enough for my current self to understand what is happening and what my past self was thinking. As time passes, you will forget more context and plans than you can imagine.

Hence, we should add sufficient context and detail when leaving notes for your future self. Your future self will thank you.

Writing down my daily packing list

Reading time: 1 min

Every day, before leaving my home, I count 4, 7 or 12 items (depending on where I'm going) that I should have on me, to prevent myself from leaving and then later realising that I left something important at home.

The tier two packing list grew over time, from 7 items, to 10, and most recently a new group of 12 (tier three, a mask is one of them now). This is over the 'grouping limit' of the brain, and I generally have to count the items as 7+5 rather than a group of 12.

I realised this yesterday: why didn't I just write it down and stick it on the wall? I waste time counting and re-counting the last few items (because I forget them thanks to the aforementioned grouping limit) and waste cognitive effort. My initial goal with this standardised 4, 7 or 12 was so that I didn't accumulate decision fatigue, and here I am accumulating decision fatigue deciding which items I have on me.

Notes have to be re-discovered to be useful to your future self

Reading time: 3-4 min

Writing is a way for us to retain our memories, for our brain forgets while our notes do not. My daily note / journal entries and this blog serves as my way of recording my daily happenings, priorities, tasks, movement towards goals, concerns, interesting things, what I'm grateful for, and a knowledge bank for use in my future.

However, while inputting my thoughts into this memory repository can benefit my present self by clearing my head of my thoughts and putting things down in a written medium in front of me for organisation and connecting, the pure act of inputting does not benefit my future self. Purely inputting our notes in a database and never opening it or never finding the right note(s) means that none of our writing can be used in the future.

What does benefit my future self is the ability to retrieve my notes, to find and right ones and the right time. Similar to how our brains work, retrieval is the important part of memory, not necessarily just the initial encoding into our brains. (More on this in the future.)

Effective retrieval of the right notes at the right time can be achieved through search to find the right ones, and looking through related and connected notes to find other relevant notes at the right time.

My current Standard Notes (SN) system has daily notes / journal entries going. However, SN doesn't have a good way for you to rediscover notes. I originally felt like I didn't have a need for this- It's unlikely for me to regularly revisit my journal entries (consisting of some events that day, to-do lists, goals and achievements, notable events, interesting things talked about, interesting things to look up in the future, resources, etc.... everything, really). I would likely search through my entries by approximate date. That is true to an extent, but I would still like for my entries to be more discoverable.

SN allows for arranging notes by date added and has a simple search function. I can discover notes written at a similar date to the one I'm looking for and notes with similar words to the one I'm looking for. I find this good for a 'write and forget' style of ongoing notes (i.e. daily notes). However, cross-topic connections are difficult to make purely by looking at the SN interface. Many connections I make in this blog are by memory- the topic acts as a hook for me to retrieve topics I've written about previously. SN has poor note discoverability unless you have a specific thing (set of words) or date range you are searching for.

SN could benefit from adding bi-directional linking, or even uni-directional linking. I would be able to place notes within a network of other notes, allowing for relevant notes from different topics and dates written to be easily connected by my current self and re-discovered by my future self. A 'random note' button would also help with re-discovering old notes. There are times where I by random look through an old note and go "ahhh" at the ideas and inspiration written there, and feel delighted when I read about past pleasant happenings.

Informed decisions and intentional actions

Reading time: 1-2 min

In medicine and bioethics, there's a concept known as informed consent. It's where healthcare professionals communicate information to patients, and the patient patients should understand the function, benefits and risks of action plans before giving authorization to go ahead.

I feel that keeping this idea is important for life in general. To make informed decisions and be intentional with our actions.

In the modern era, for many of us, information is vast and readily accessible. Yet, we sometimes jump to conclusions or make sudden, erratic decisions before getting at least a good, reasonable understanding of something. We also often go on autopilot with our actions, letting the river of life take us wherever without so much as a paddle to guide your path.

Just sprinkling some research (from multiple reliable sources) and thinking (about what we really want to and should be doing) into our lives could help bring these benefits:

Capturing shower thoughts

Reading time: 1-2 min

What’s a good way of capturing your shower thoughts?

Shower thoughts tend to be good thinking. The lack of intelligible noise (or at least the white noise) in the shower, the lack of attention and cognitive effort required to shower, and in general the lack of external stimuli makes it a good place to think.

I get so many thoughts during the shower. A lot of my writing and ideas originates from these thoughts. I try to capture them as soon as possible in a written format. Standard Notes is a reasonable option for quick-capture due to its accessibility across so many devices and fast loading.

Yet, I still forget around half of my shower thoughts. Even if I try to keep them in my head, to group/chain the thoughts and commit them to my short-term memory, to recall them periodically to push them towards long-term memory, I still get distracted sometimes and forget the thought, before I can commit them into long-term memory or build a proper 'hook' to retrieve them from long term memory in the future.

So many of shower thoughts are valuable thinking related to my interests or related to my goals. I need to find a better way to capture these.

I would love to hear your suggestions.

To write in SN is to deposit thoughts into my memory repository.

Make your work and habits public for accountability

Reading time: 1 min

I think, if this blog wasn't public, there are days when I would lapse on this type of writing and not catch up due to not having enough time in my day (or rather having something else more pressing or important).

We should make our work public. Show your progress. Even if no one is there to see what you published, this act offers motivation to stick to the habit and creates accountability in your work and habits.

This is another way we could prevent ourselves from dropping habits.

Proofread with text-to-speech for a nicer experience

Reading time: 1 min

Neat tip to help make proofreading a nicer experience:

Turn on read aloud or otherwise text-to-speech (TTS) while you go through your document.

This works very well with long papers that would otherwise be a complete chore to go through. TTS keeps you going at a fixed rate, preventing distractions and you get the benefit of "reading aloud" in that you will catch more mistakes, but you don't have to exert the effort to actually read it out loud.

And a computer won't miss words, whereas we do.

I do this with all of my long papers nowadays. It's like a second checker going with you simultaneously. I catch more things to edit while reviewing less iterations.

Appreciating the opportunities we get - "I get to..."

I'm supposed to be on a study break right now. But I have to attend a training on administering injections.

It's so easy to just groan and ask where my break went.

However, we should appreciate the opportunities we get. We "get" to do things, we don't "have" to. I'm certain there are others who want to attend the training but didn't get such an opportunity.

This mindset helps keep our actions intentional, and makes us more grateful for the things we encounter in our life.

"I get to attend a training on administering injections."

See also:
We choose to do things - Role of wording