When did you last walk from one room to another, only to forget why you’re there? I do it several times a day. Our brains, finite but efficient, use environmental clues to help choose what to remember. When the setting changes—a different room, for example—they tend to wipe the slate clean to make space for something new. Psychologists call it the doorway effect.
The problem is not so much how to retrieve a memory as how to record it in the first place. I try to follow at least a couple of these tips before I reach the doorway:
Now, why did I come in here to the computer?
I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.