Business Today

Forgetful at a young age?

Learn to manage time and stress better.

Print Edition: December 12, 2010

How often have you forgotten the name of a person you are meeting after a while? Or how often have you tried hard to recall the name of an unforgettable movie? To forget is human, but to be young and forgetful can be scary.

Samir Parikh, a Delhi-based psychiatrist and chief of the Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences at Max Healthcare, recalls the case of a 28-year-old woman whose performance at work plummeted as she kept forgetting things and began having trouble getting along with her boss.

While the causes of forgetfulness are difficult to define, forgetfulness at a young age is mostly about time management and overwork. "When it is an issue of forgetfulness in a 20- or a 30-year-old, we are not talking about amnesia. We look for biological issues if a person crosses 45-50 years," says Parikh.

Points to remember

  • Take multiple breaks during work
  • Make a list of things to do and focus on one task at a time
  • Switch off you phone for a while each day
  • Get regular exercise to boost oxygen supply to the brain
  • Get six to eight hours of sleep daily
  • Do crosswords and puzzles daily
  • Spend time with your family and friends
  • A diet full of vegetables and fruits, and whole grain food helps
Forgetfulness at a young age may happen because you have too many things to do. When you multitask, your attention span gets crunched and you fail to absorb everything. "For memory to become strong, repetition is important. When you are working on too many things at a time, enough consolidation of memory is not happening," says Parikh.

The first warning sign is when you start to forget important stuff. A senior manager at a consulting firm, who is in his late 30s, recalls how he forgot to turn up for a meeting scheduled in advance. He had forgotten to make a note of it and it slipped from his mind.

Parikh has an increasing number of people coming to him for poor performance at work. "People do not come specifically to discuss forgetfulness, but they almost always mention it while talking about their slackening performance, overwork and worsening relationship with their bosses," he says.

To manage stress and time, Parikh suggests, take many short breaks during the work day. If you are taking a break every three hours, break up your tasks and targets accordingly. If your first break at work is at 11.30 a.m., you can set aside certain tasks that you will accomplish by 11.30 a.m. You could even try out crosswords or puzzles during short breaks.

Of course, staying healthy is the bottom line. Exercise daily, get enough sleep, learn to relax and eat well. People with healthy bodies also tend to have a healthy memory.

Parikh's own working day is more often than not 10-12 hours long. He does not work from home and does not take work-related calls after office hours.

Few can afford to switch off from work in a 24x7 environment, but why not keep your mobile switched off during dinner or your evening walk?

-Saumya Bhattacharya

  • Print

A    A   A