Episode 67: Losing Things and Executive Functions

Below you can view or listen to Episode 67 of The Personal Brain Trainer Podcast.  

Losing Things and Executive Functions

In this episode of the Executive Function Brain Trainer Podcast, Dr. Erica Warren and Darius Namdaran delve into the challenges of losing important items like keys, wallets, and rings, particularly for those with dyslexia or ADHD. They discuss how executive function impacts these behaviors and explore effective strategies to create reliable habits. From pocket systems to visual cues and habit-stacking methods, the hosts offer practical advice to help listeners design workflows tailored to their cognitive styles, ultimately saving time and reducing stress.




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        Erica: Welcome to the Personal Brain Trainer podcast. I'm Dr Erica Warren.

        Darius: And I'm Darius Namdaran and we're your hosts. Join us on an adventure to translate the scientific jargon and brain research into simple metaphors and explanations for everyday life. We explore executive function and learning strategies that help turbocharge the mind.

        Erica: Come learn to steer around the invisible barriers so that you can achieve your goals. This podcast is ideal for parents, educators, and learners of all ages. This podcast is brought to you by goodsensorylearning.com where you can find educational and occupational therapy lessons and remedial materials that bring delight to learning. Finally, you can find Dr Warren's many courses at, learningspecialistcourses.com dot. Come check out our newest course on developing executive functions and study strategies.

        Darius: This podcast is sponsored by dyslexiaproductivitycoaching.com. we give you a simple productivity system for your Apple devices that harnesses the creativity that comes with your dyslexia.

        Erica: Hey Darius, nice to see you.

        Darius: Great to see Erica.

        Erica: You've got something cool for us to do today. Tell us a little bit about it.

        Darius: Well, I thought it would be good to deep dive into losing things and executive function. The reason why I brought this up is that with a number of my clients in the workplace, when we talk about workplace strategy coaching for dyslexia or adhd, often we're thinking about tech and speech to text and taking notes and mind mapping and all sorts of things. I've noticed. I brought this up with one of my clients recently, and Troy, who went on my other podcast, the Dyslexia Explorer podcast, was talking about this how when I brought up do you lose things? He was like, oh, I’m so mortally embarrassed. I lose my keys all the time. And I go, well, what does all the time mean? And he said, well, maybe five times a day, maybe four times a day, three times a day on a good day, and that’s a lot of times to lose your keys. Now, the reason I brought this up is that a number of people in their forties, thirties, fifties, who feel like they should know better are losing important stuff like keys, wallets, lanyards, something crucial that is a sort of a key to getting stuff done in your day. And I thought it would be good for you and me to just sort of spitball round about this topic and explore why does it happen? Who does it happen for? Is it laziness? Is it carelessness? Is it something to do with executive function? Does automaticity play into it. What are the strategies involved in dealing with this? Is this something that's going to be a problem for the rest of your life? And the answer is, there are strategies, there are reasons for it. Let's talk.

        Erica: Let's do it. Yeah, I like this topic a lot because I think that that's something that a lot of people struggle with. But let's hit this in an organized way. So where would you like to get started?

        Darius: Well, I think it's really down to, why is this happening? I think if you understand why, you can then figure out what to do and then how to do it. So if we think about why this is happening, what to do about it, and how to go about doing that, and that might be a nice sort of framework to follow. So why do you think this is happening? Let's discuss the why.

        Erica: Great. So, it's interesting. The first thing that comes to my mind is, yeah. Actually kind of attaching that to executive functioning, because when I lose things, it usually means that I'm not paying attention. And that has to do with inhibitory control. Right. So many times I'm also juggling too many things, so I'm trying to keep too many things in my mind. So that has to do with working memory. Right. So really losing things has to do, if I'm thinking about just myself and what happens when I lose things, it really has to do with working memory and inhibitory control, because I'm usually doing too many things at once, which is overtaxing the working memory. And then

        Erica: many times, it's one of those things where I'll get distracted, so I'm on my way to doing something, or, and I will put something down on my way to go do something else. So I'm not conscious about where I put something, and it's when we're not conscious about where we put something, that we lose something.

        Darius: Yeah. And the normal solution of the mind is to create an automatic habit and delegate it down to an automated system. So you're not having to use your working memory, you're not having to use your inhibitory control, you're not having to use these higher-level executive functions. It just goes down into this automatic system. And I think that's where automaticity comes in. You know, there are some people who don't learn habits as quickly as other people, and that's an automaticity challenge. And a lot of people who have got dyslexia or ADHD or executive function deficits, there's an automaticity. It takes longer to become automatic of things. It has a huge advantage because you become much more intentional about how you do things, because you have to use your working memory, you have to concentrate on it. So you become much more intentional about what you do. But it kind of becomes a bit more random, because sometimes it feels logical to put it here, and other times it feels logical to put it there, and other times it's logical to put it there. But then someone else comes in and goes, well, I always put my keys there, whether it's logical or not. That's my habit. Put my keys there, and that's it. They're always there, and I don't even think about it anymore. So I think that tends to be the solution of the human mind, to automate certain things. So it creates space for other things that need that intentionality.

        Erica: And I think another great strategy is bringing in a specific place, a location. For example, I used to always lose my keys, and then I got a key box. So to have a very, very clear, designated space often helps. However, even though I have a key box, and that helps me, 90% of the time, it's that other 10% where I get that cognitive overwhelm, right? Where I'm, like, doing too many things at once, or I'm on the way to do something, and then I go down a rabbit hole and I have to use my hands, and my keys are in my hands, so I place them down somewhere where they don't belong. So I think you can have these habits that get overridden at times when there is that sense of overwhelm. But I think there are ways to address that as well. For example, if I were to do something like that, where I have that sense of overwhelm, and I put my keys down somewhere, if I can be at least conscious enough to even cross my fingers, it doesn't take any time. And I do that when I go into my garage and I turn the lights on, because I always forget to turn the lights off as I'll cross my fingers, and I won't let myself cross my fingers until I've turned the lights off. I mean, granted, that's not always going to work, because I might have to use that hand, and so that might fall apart. But it's almost like Hansel and Gretel leaving some crumbs along your path to help you remember, because just sometimes you are just so overtaxed. And whether it's little sticky notes, but making some kind of effort to say, like, oh, wow, I am overwhelmed, and I will likely forget this.

        Darius: Yes.

        Erica: There's a certain amount of consciousness that you have to have when you start to get overwhelmed.

        Darius: Yes. So we've gone from the why and we're kind of moving into the what, what to do, and in a way, when I'm thinking about this in simple terms, let's say you keep losing your keys. You need to decide that your keys go in one place and that's it. There's only one place your keys live, and that's it. Okay. So for me, there's only one place that my key lives, and that is inside of my wallet, in my left-hand pocket, and my wallet always goes in my left-hand pocket, and my key always goes in my wallet. And that's it. It's always in my wallet, and my wallet's always in my pocket. And so I don't lose my keys, and I haven't lost my keys for, I don't know, 1520 years now. Whereas before then, I lose my keys,

        Darius: not properly lose my keys, like every four months, and I have to get a new set cut, and it becomes a security nightmare or whatever. And then mislaying my keys on a daily stroke, weekly basis where it really gets in the way makes me late or something like that. That's what lifelike was before, until it had one place.

        Erica: That's cool. And, you know, I think I'm sensing a gender issue here because, you know.

        Darius: Yeah, because you don't have the same pocket on all the time. Eh?

        Erica: Exactly.

        Darius: That's the problem with women, isn't it?

        Erica: And then, of course, you get pocketbooks, and then women have multiple pocketbooks.

        Darius: What's a pocketbook?

        Erica: A pocketbook is like purse. Another term for. But I was going along with that because pocket to pocketbook.

        Darius: Yes.

        Erica: But, yeah, it's basically a handbag or a purse.

        Darius: Yes.

        Erica: another term. But, you know, it's interesting because I think that's part of what you have to explore is what is something that's permanent.

        Darius: Yes.

        Erica: Permanent and easy. Because your body travels everywhere with you.

        Darius: Yes.

        Erica: So if you can somehow attach it to your body in a reliable way, because obviously a purse or a handbag or a pocketbook isn't going to work for a woman if she has 15 of them.

        Darius: Yes.

        Erica: Right. Or a coat, a coat pocket, that's going to be a problem.

        Darius: That's right. And so now we're moving to the how. So there's the why, the what to do one reliable place. And now we're into the really interesting how. And this is what I find fascinating in doing this strategy, coaching with individuals. When it comes to this, I lose this. Okay? It's like, how do we make this go from a good idea to something that can start working right now from the very minute you leave listening to this podcast or listening to, deciding about it? And one of the interesting things, I was discussing this with my wife, and she said, look, there's some women, what they've got is they've got their handbag, okay? But they get a handbag insert, and so all the pockets are there permanently, and the key always goes into that pocket in their handbag. And if they want to change handbags, they pull the insert out and they slide it into the other handbag. So it's still the same one place, reliable, predictable place, but with a different.

        Erica: Shell, kind of like a wallet.

        Darius: It's like a wallet, but it's actually a bag, right?

        Erica: It's a large wallet.

        Darius: Yeah, it's a large wallet. It's an actual bag. And you got a place for your mobile phone, you got a place for your keys, you've got a place for your glasses. You've got a place for all the other key, you know, aspirin or whatever, medications, etcetera. And I think that's part of the strategy. If you're not neurotypical, if you're neurodiverse and you think differently and you process information differently, often what happens is that you can think that you're lazy. And I noticed this with another person I was speaking to this week. He said, look, I've been very lazy this week when it comes to this, that, and the next thing. And I said to him, actually, are you really being lazy, or is it laziness, or is it bad design? And he was like, what do you mean by bad design? I said, well, maybe you've designed your workflow really badly so that you have to do a lot of effort to make it actually work. So the issue isn't laziness. The issue is that you have a bad design in that workflow. For example. Now, when it comes to your keys, for example, losing your keys, are you being lazy? Are you being careless? Maybe it's not that. Maybe your system isn't designed for the way your brain works. So this whole how relates to how does your mind work? does it work very visually? Do you look for visual cues? Do you look for physical cues, like your fingers being crossed? Do you have often you have to externalize some of these systems. As human beings. We create tools, we externalize, we take notes, we create systems, we have visual cues, ornaments, your box of keys, etcetera. You put it at the front door where you need it. There's lots of elements to designing your environment around you to actually help you get important m stuff done, like remembering your keys.

        Erica: I think you're hitting on what are your best ways of processing, which

        Erica: we've talked about before, and we've talked about twelve different ways, but they don't necessarily all have to do with losing things. But you're right, visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic and tactile kind of go together when you're thinking about losing things. It could be verbal, or I just give myself a verbal reminder. Yeah.

        Darius: and they become kind of like a bridge towards automaticity. So, for example, okay, if you are a very visual person, okay, you might put a sign or a symbol of your teacup or something, your flask that you've got to take with you. You could put a, post it up that says flask and has an image of flask. And it could have your bag, it could have your phone, it could have your keys, and it could just be a post it with five little images on it at the front door. And your kind of like, oh, gosh, yes. Oh, I haven't got my flask. And you off, go and get your flask. But then you do those 100 times or 150 times in a row, reliably, predictably, the same way every time. Then it becomes a habit and you're like, oh, I'm not having to look at the sign anymore. I'm not having to be so conscious. It becomes an unconscious habit. And so I think these processing styles and this being more aware of your mind becomes more important when it comes to habit formation, because you need to create this bridge to bridge you over those, that repetition cycle.

        Erica: I agree. And I think the other thing is to make sure that when you are coming up with a strategy, to really, really consider how reliable is this strategy going to be. So, for example, one strategy that I've had that's been quite reliable when I travel around, and I've got my keys because I don't often have a purse or a wallet. What does that really fit into my phone is I get one of those little hooks and I hook it to my clothing. I jangle, which is kind of funny, but it doesn't matter, I don't care, but it's not reliable enough. If I wear a skirt.

        Darius: Yes.

        Erica: Then it becomes, a little bit of an issue. So what you have to do is you have to say, okay, how reliable is this for me? Now? I might say, well, it's reliable enough because I hardly ever wear a skirt, but if I start to wear skirts more often, I'm going to have to come up with something more reliable. But I think, you know, oftentimes we'll come up with something quickly. We'll just say, oh, I'll always put it here, but I think we have to be a little bit more conscious of that and to really evaluate and say, like, how reliable is this? Are there going to be times where this doesn't work? What are those situations? And how often am I in those situations? Because I think, you know, the reason why you putting your key in your wallet has worked so well for you is because it's reliable.

        Darius: Absolutely.

        Erica: It's like 100% reliable. Because you're always wearing pants.

        Darius: Yes. Except when I'm wearing my kilt. And then if I wear my kilt, it goes in the sporran because the kilt doesn't have any pockets. But, yes, it is reliable.

        Erica: That's funny. And I love your wife's strategy of having kind of a, ah, bag or wallet in her purse that transfers from purse to purse. That's reliable. Yes, but you could. Now, my key box is great, but it's not reliable enough.

        Darius: Okay. Is it not reliable in that, could you. Not always. When you walk in the door, you always put your keys on the keyboards, and when you walk out the door, you always take the keys off. Out the key box.

        Erica: It would be helpful if the key box was right near the door.

        Darius: Is it not?

        Erica: It's not. It's in design floor. It is. I don't know if I have room in that, room, to have a keep, but maybe I need to figure out a way to make.

        Darius: Maybe you don't need a key box. Maybe you just need a nail. And that's it. It's just for those sets of keys. They've got their one little place. Because I think that's another aspect of a design. So this is interesting. When Troy and I were going through this, he won't mind me, sharing this. I've already spoken to him about this already. always share the names of clients. But Troy's different. We realized that walking through doorways. Okay, so when you move across a threshold, something happens in your mind. Okay. So we went through this, and I said, so when you go to your front door, what do you do with the keys? He says, well, I unlock the door and I opened the door

        Darius: and then I said, what are you thinking about when you walk in that door? He says, I'm thinking about my son, I want to say hello to my son. So you're immediately this, oh, your mind goes to something else, and it overrides the key thing, and you just do something with the keys while you're concentrating on something that's more important. And like saying hello to your son, you know, after a day’s work, which is beautiful, isn't it? So what do you do about that? Well, you unlock the door, okay. And before you open the door, before you cross the threshold, you unlock the door and you put the key in the pocket that is designated for it. So he decided my key will always go into my briefcase. In this pocket on my briefcase, it will always be in that. He unlocks it, put it in, opens the door, puts the briefcase down, says hello to his son. And I think even when you're thinking about the detail, the design detail of how you design your workflow or how you design this habit for success, thresholds are important aspect of it, because when you move across a threshold, your mindset shifts.

        Erica: That's reliable? Yes, that's reliable. I like that a lot. That's very good.

        Darius: You don't know what's on the other side of the door. So you bag the success of doing that habit and then you open that door into the new space. Could be your wife's there, someone's upset, might be a surprise, and then that's not completely reliable, but it's always reliable at the door when it's under your control in your space. You know, listeners, you might be thinking, why am I being so obsessive about this? But the thing is, once you figure it out for some tiny little things like this, you realize how many other little habits and workflows that are interfering with your day-to-day life that you're just taking for granted. You're just living with and compromising with, and it's costing you time and energy, and you're attributing to being lazy. And it's not you being lazy, it's because you haven't got the right designed flow for your mind. Once you start understanding the way your mind and a mind works, you design a workflow that suits your mind for lots of things.

        Erica: And you said two very important things. It saves time and energy. We all want to save time and energy. I mean, well, goodness, think about all those times where you lose something important and you just have to stop everything, you can lose hours, not only you but your partner, your family. It can affect everybody on a profound level. I have to go down this little rabbit hole with you because I need to know the answer. Obviously, you don't wear one pair of pants and you have to wash them. So how do you cope with, because that happens to me. I'll leave my keys sometimes in my coat pocket, but I have many coats. So how do you make sure that you don't lose your wallet or your keys or you don't throw them in the washer?

        Darius: Because my m personal rule, okay, is my wallet always has to be on my left-hand pocket, front left pocket. My phone always has to be in my front right pocket. And my air pods always have to be in the little pocket above the front right-hand pocket. So those three things always have to be in those places. The rule for me is when I move from this desk, my wallet has to be in my pocket, my phone has to be in my other pocket, my air pods have to be in the other. And then I'm allowed to move that across the threshold. Then I go into my bedroom, and I change my trousers. I put my trousers on, I take the old wallet, put it into the new pocket, you know, and everything gets transferred. It's like, it's absolutely non-negotiable because if I lose my air pods, if I lose my phone, if I lose my wallet, if I lose my keys, that's a big problem. And it's too expensive in terms of time and frustration and the joy in just reliably, you know, it's pat, Pat. And so it's physical, I can feel it. And it also has a place that it fits. There's a satisfaction that it's going in its place. And this is another technique that I use is you can decide what irritates you and you can decide

        Darius: what gives you pleasure. Okay. It's kind of like neuro linguistic programming but simplified. So does it give you pleasure to have that wallet in your pocket? And you go, I feel good when that wallet's in my pocket. Yes, it's pressing against my leg or whatever, but it's reassuring. I know I've got my money; I know I've got my cards; I know I've got my key in there. Yeah, that's good. I feel good when that's happened. When I take my wallet out and I see it lying somewhere, I intentionally say to myself that irritates me. Okay, it doesn't irritate me, but I tell myself, I point to it, I, look at it and I go, that irritates me. That wallet being outside of my pocket irritates me, and so I use irritation and pleasure to drive me towards building that habit. So when Troy was doing the key, I said, how do you feel now when your key is outside of the pocket of that bag? He says, it's really annoying. Really? I go, that's you unconsciously doing that, you know? And, when you put that key into the pocket, does it give you a sense of satisfaction? It does. And so I said, how many times have you lost your keys in the last month? Once. Compared to losing it five times a day. Now, he could be going to the law office and then coming back from court, and he's like, lost my keys, locked out, having to go to the backup, you know, finding the backup and all the backup systems that you've got to make all of this work, none of that's happening. The confidence and the clarity and the fluidity that dealing with some of these little things that repeatedly interrupt you gives you is incredible.

        Erica: I agree. So, you know, we've talked about keys and wallets. What are some other important things that people lose that we can.

        Darius: Lanyards. Lanyards. So a lot of people with dyslexia or ADHD don't always have the automaticity. They might take something off, they might take rings off, like their wedding ring off, they might take watches off. And these are all kind of personal, important, valuable. Maybe not as critical as keys and so on, but they're still valuable. Those are some things that people can regularly forget. Air pods. For a lot of people, Air pods, I mean, for me, Air pods are absolutely essential. My wife hates hearing music or sound in the house. It just, it's too much for her. Whereas I'm a bit ADHD and I need some stimulation, I need some music. I need to listen to a podcast. So I put one Air pod in, I can listen to that, and I've got my other ear out for her. She's speaking to me, I switch that off and, so everyone's a winner. But that doesn't work for me unless my Air Pods are right there for that 510 minutes or 15 minutes where I want that stimulation.

        Erica: That's really interesting. So what's coming up for me is one thing that's really important is to make a list of all the things that you lose, because everybody's going to be different. I've never used Air Pods ever. I have a pair, but I've never used them. So that's not something that I need to have on my list. But my rings, absolutely. You know, because I'm also a potter. So on Wednesday nights I go to pottery, and I can't have my rings on. And then I'll take them off and I put them in my pocket. I'm like, oh, I'm so afraid I'm going to lose them. You know, so, so that would be on my m list.

        Darius: Let's take that as a working example, case study. Let's go through what we've talked about and see what we can do about your rings.

        Erica: Well, initially I had this strategy of, because I would forget about it and I would start throwing a piece of clay and I'd be, on the wheel and I'd be like, oh my gosh, my rings are getting in the way. And then I'd have clay all over my hands, take them off, and I'd put them in my pocket and get clay all over my pants, you know, so I'm at the point where I'm just not wearing rings anymore.

        Darius: Oh, really?

        Erica: What I have is if I want to put them on, I have a little wooden container right next to my bed where I keep them. So if I want to put them on, I know where to get them. But then I'm leaving them off most of the time just because now I'm also gardening and I'm doing these other various things that I just haven't decided to kind of put them on. But, yeah, that's difficult because jewelry is a tough one because jewelry is not only valuable financially, but emotionally sentimental. It's very sentimental. So, you know, to me, I would rather not wear them at this point in my life than to run the risk

        Erica: of losing them because there's just not really a great place to put something like an engagement ring or a wedding ring or something that's just super memorable.

        Darius: I've got an idea for you.

        Erica: Oh, good, I want to hear it.

        Darius: Okay. So you wear a necklace quite regularly, don't you?

        Erica: I do.

        Darius: So what if you unclipped your necklace, put all the rings on the necklace, clipped it back up, and you just had all the rings dangling off your necklace. And it's both safe and a reminder that, oh, gosh, my rings are there. I better take them off and put them on my hand.

        Erica: That's a really cool idea. I like that. The only thing, this particular necklace is difficult to get on and off. And if I had clay all over my hands. It would be a bit of a mess, and it is a little challenging. I do like that strategy, and I think, you know, there are other things that you can do. if you wear a bracelet, you could do the same thing. If I'm just trying to think of other things that you could have on your body.

        Darius: I like the bracelet idea. Right? Like, you could have the equivalent of a charm bracelet, like, one of these charms, you know, but the hooks are big enough to hook your rings onto, so it becomes like a ring charm bracelet. That's going to be a great design. Do you know what I mean?

        Erica: And that's a lot of it, is just designing something. You might want to wear a fanny pack all the time where you could put things, but not many people like fanny packs, and they're not considered very cool. And men can have a man purse or whatever, but finding something, you know, even if, I mean, I love the idea of hooking things onto my pants. If I have a place where I could attach, my rings onto there and then hook them on my pants. But I think somehow attaching it to your body, the necklace ideas, is a really cool idea. I mean, technically, you could even put a key on your necklace, as you said, a lanyard, which is something a little bit more substantial that might have a hook on the end that you could. I've got this great lanyard, which is made of pom poms. I absolutely love it. It makes me so happy. And it has a little hook on it. So you could hook anything, whether it was a key, a ring. What else could you hook on there? what are other things that we tend to lose? What about, like, a list? I'm thinking of other people that, in particular my boyfriend John, where he's like, no, I don't use my phone. I just write everything down on a list. Yes, but then he'll leave the list, right?

        Darius: Yeah, yeah.

        Erica: You know, but he doesn't want to use a phone.

        Darius: Yes, that's a whole other topic. I think we should talk about lists as a strategy, which is a phenomenal strategy, but there's strategies to do with lists and doorways and thresholds and how certain lists should be on this side of the threshold, certain lists should be on that side of the threshold, and lists should be location specific, et cetera. There's a whole simple strategy you can take about that that can just transform the way you do processes in your home and work. But going back to the chain. So you just said, oh, but that wouldn't work because my chain is not easy to get on and off. Now, what I would say is, if this is important to you, what about going out and, buying a chain that you can use for the rest of your life that has a really easy clip to switch it on and off.

        Erica: And I just ran over to the other side of my room to show my pom pom lanyard with my little hook on it.

        Darius: Yes.

        Erica: So I think having something like this, you know, again, now, they're going to be times where you don't feel like wearing something like this.

        Darius: No, no, probably not. A design solution in terms of reliability, because your silver necklace is a reliable design solution because that is something that you would wear and pop under your top or whatever, and it's regular. But if you swapped out the silver necklace for a clasp that was a quick, easy clip in clasp, something that didn't involve your nails and so on, like a typical jewelry, but it's still discreet, you know, because you can be sure that people have designed these things. And you might say, I'm happy to pay $15 for that clasp and for it to be replaced out because it's really important to me that I don't lose my rings, or I don't lose my key or whatever that you're hanging from it. So, in terms of design decisions, what I'm saying is often when we're designing something, we think a limiting factor is there, when actually it's not there. Like the clasp is not a limiting factor, it's just a design decision. Okay, it might cost some money, but it's not the end of the world. We can still design it to make it work. So the key question

        Darius: in this is, if you want to make it work, make sure you're not making assumptions of, oh, I can't make that work. I can't make that work. Google it and say, are there clasps that are really easy to find, made of silver that are discreet? Someone will invented it. Is there someone who's got a charm bracelet that you can hook rings onto? Someone will have invented it.

        Erica: Or even a belt if you always wear a belt. They have some cool belts.

        Darius: Yeah.

        Erica: That have like little. Little areas or little zippers.

        Darius: Ouches. ouches, absolutely.

        Erica: So, you know, a lot of it is just saying, okay, what is it that I'm comfortable wearing that I'm going to keep on my body at all times? I'm going to get in the habit of always having it on my body. I can hook it on, I can clasp it on, I can wear it what is it that will enable you to be able to, in those moments where you are overwhelmed, where you can just hook it on whatever it needs to go so that when you are overwhelmed, you can kind of automatically do that without placing whatever is that you're fearful of losing in the wrong place. You know, another great item is hearing aids. These things are tiny, and if you lose them, it's a nightmare to find these things. So having a good place for something like a hearing aid is extremely important. And having perhaps a place on your body where you can store them in those moments where…

        Darius: Well, absolutely. I've got hearing aids. They're called Air pods, and they come in a little case that you put your hearing aid in, and hearing aids do come in little cases. Now, I remember my dad when he had hearing aids. He'd have his little black pouch put his hearing aids in with his batteries in because he needed his batteries, and that pouch went with him everywhere. And it's the same scenario, you know, I think this concept of pouches and places and having something that is sort of a bit ritualized and that you can really enjoy and take satisfaction and pleasure in doing it, you know, Apple's done that very well with Air Pods. The action of opening it is pleasurable. The action of putting the Air pod in and feeling the magnetic pull is very clever, you know, and it's small enough to carry, so it needs to be something that is a pleasure and that is designed to actually work. And that also has enough space. Like, does the pouch have enough space in it? Are you always jamming it in and pulling that zip over it, so you don't do it? So it's removing this friction, or has it got too much space? So you take your hearing aid pouch and then stuff tons of other stuff in it, so it stops becoming functional. So there's this nice balance between having everything in its place, you know, a place for everything, and everything in its place is a good phrase for this. Now, for me, everything in its place. Sorry. A place for everything, and everything in its place is a very high bar that my wife reaches all the time, and I don't. But I'm happy with the bar of, everything important has a place, and everything important goes in its place. So it's like, everything important in its place, you know, and everything important has a place is my philosophy. So I choose what's important. My wallet, my key, my phone, my air pods. And that has a place. And, to a degree, other things start to have their places, but not necessarily on me, but near me, but that principle of everything has a place.

        Erica: Yeah, I think, you know, you brought up the phone. That's another one. And it's interesting because what I found that has helped me quite a bit is I don't carry a purse, but I carry my phone in. You can buy these kinds of wallets that the phone fits in, and then they have these little places where you can put your credit cards and stuff like that. I still haven't found the best situation and maybe we can brainstorm something better because then I often put this in different places. That is my phone wallet kind of thing. This is my go-to strategy, and I get teased about it a lot. When I can't find my phone. I just, I ask Alexa, Alexa knows.

        Darius: Where your phone is?

        Erica: Yeah, you can have it, call your phone and then your phone rings and I can find it.

        Darius: Okay.

        Erica: But every now and again the battery runs out and I can't find it. But everybody laughs because I say it about 30 times a day,

        Erica: where's my phone? Because I now rely on that feature to tell me where my phone is. But it's still not ideal. So I think I've got to come up with a better strategy. And perhaps I like the idea of a pouch. It makes me think of a kangaroo. And there's something kind of beautiful about that, because kangaroos do carry a pouch and they can fit in their pouch. Maybe I just need to carry some kind of pouch that I can just keep my things in on my body.

        Darius: Yeah. it could be an aesthetic pouch; it could be a very small purse that has a chain around or a belt or hooks onto a belt or whatever. But I think the whole reason I wanted to talk about this in this podcast is that, is to talk about automaticity, right?

        Erica: Yeah.

        Darius: Is that how many times does it take you to become automatic at something? And it's not the same for every person. So let's say a typical person gets shown a process and they do it ten to 15 times they have learned that process. Okay. Someone with dyslexia or ADHD might be given that same process, and after 15 times they haven't learned it, right? After 40 times they haven't learned it. They know how to do it, but it's not automatic, and there's a big difference. And you can go to someone, and you go to little Johnny, who's learned how to read a word a certain way or learn a times table a certain way or whatever, and you go, little Johnny seven times, eight you knew that yesterday. And it's like, oh, seven times eight. Well, let me just figure that. So five times eight is. It's 40, and then two sevens is 14. So is that 54? Right. Seven times eight, is that 54?

        Darius: 56. All right.

        Erica: Okay, 56, but, yes, but little Johnny could make a little mathematical error because he's trying to hold so much.

        Darius: He's processing it. He's being intentional, just like I did there. I didn't get it right, but I had to process it. I don't know, off by heart, you know, but we've done this 50 times in a row. We've done this 50 days in a row, same time every day. And then day 100 comes along. Little Johnny still doesn't know it. Okay, what is your number for becoming automatic at something? And I only just discovered that three days ago. I think my number is 155.

        Erica: Well, I can tell you how to get it down to something much lower, and that is using memory strategies. So you've used that one with me before? Seven times.

        Darius: Again, the memory strategies are bridges to automaticity. Now, what I'm talking about now, probably I'm somewhere between. I'm somewhere between 75 and 150.

        Erica: Okay, you're right. It's kind of like snakes and ladders. Did you ever play that game when you were a kid?

        Darius: I. Yes.

        Erica: So, yes, memory strategies are ladders.

        Darius: They are. They are. So if we look at the, why it's happening, what to do and how to do it. Okay. We're kind of why it's happening is because you don't have strong automaticity. If you had a really strong automatic habit, you would be like so many other people. I always leave my phone there. I always leave my keys here. I always do this. I've just done it for the last 15 years. You go on to autopilot, or you just remember.

        Erica: You are just consciously.

        Darius: You just remember. Yeah, yeah.

        Erica: Some people just remember.

        Darius: They do now. That's where automaticity becomes our best friend in a lot of ways, you know, if you can get to an automatic level. So we're talking about how we're going to get, what we're going to do. We're going to give it one place we're going to get. We're going to find, a strategy, a visual strategy, some sort of strategy that will keep us going. Habit stacking. Then it gets to the point where it becomes how it happens. You design it into your workflow, you put it in the right place, so it actually becomes a proper how it happens in your day, and then you become automatic at it. Now, I'll give you an example. I decided I wanted to take cold showers. Okay? Now, I don't mean hardcore. I'm standing under a cold shower for, like, five minutes or anything like that. What I decided was atomic habits said you should stack habits on top. So I'm having a normal shower, and at the end of the shower, I'll turn it down to cold, and I'll have a, ten second, 15, 2nd, 20, 30 seconds, 1 minute, depending on the day. But I'll have it cold for some amount of

        Darius: time. Okay. It wasn't until the 150th day, 55th day that I reached up and turned it down to cold. And cold automatically, every single day. At the end of the shower, I'd switch the shower off, and I go, oh, I didn't do the cold shower thing. Will I do the cold shower thing. Will I not do? No. Darius, you said you're going to do this. Switch it back on, cold shower, you know? Oh, okay. Right. It's done. Finish out. And then I would get to the point where I'm having the shower, and I'm like, you really want to have a cold shower because it's really good for your skin. It's good for tightening up your pores. It's good for your eczema. It's good for your immune system to have that little bit of cold shock. Remember that? And I'm like, oh, yeah, yeah, I'm going to have a cold shower. That's right. And I'd have to intentionally go through every reason, every logical process and re reason why I'm doing it. Because I didn't have the habit to carry me over. I had to use that bridge of the logical, sequential reasoning to get to that repeated practice until it became the habit.

        Erica: You had to be conscious. You had to be conscious, and you had to be conscious that many times before it became subconscious. So automaticity is all about becoming, allowing your subconscious to do something automatically for you.

        Darius: Yes. 155 days. Now, other people say it takes about 40 days to establish a habit. Okay? And some people establish that habit within 20 days, you know, sometimes 15 days or two weeks. 155 days. Okay.

        Erica: But, Darius, I can tell you right now that if it was something incredibly important to you, like, incredibly important to you, like life or death. Death. It doesn't take that many. So a lot of it has to do with.

        Darius: It does. No, it does. And that's the point I'm trying to make. This is something that I've realized about myself. There are so many things. I sail, okay? I sail when I go out into the North Sea in a 16-foot dinghy, okay? If I do anything wrong, I have a high chance of death. Okay? And there are things that I've done hundreds of times, and I still am, not automatic at it. When I know that there's other people who are automatic at it, because I see my peers just go onto the motion, I have to stop. I have to rethink it all. I have to be intentional. I have to re-sequence it and go, right. This is what I'm doing. This is why I'm doing it. This is. Okay. I'm going to do this now. I'm going to do that. It's not in my habits, but it's.

        Erica: Because you have so many things to do at once. But if you were diagnosed with cancer and they said to you, you need to take this pill once a day, you would be more likely to remember that, because there's only one thing. So a lot of it has to do with stacking, too. I think if you have.

        Darius: If there are two, I would forget it, Erica. I'm telling you. I would forget it. I would forget it, you know? And so I would create an external system where I'd set an alarm at this time, and I go, oh, what's that? Alarm?

        Erica: Have a checklist. So you know that you did. You took it that day, which I do, as well. Yeah. There are times where, if it's that important, we do have to create these external systems so that we can keep track.

        Darius: Now, I'm not sure if my number is 155. Okay. It could be 75, because there was a point in that 155 days where the first kind of 60 days, I was kind of like, I will do it. I won't do it today. I will do it today. I won't do it today. I'll just skip it today. One out of seven is six. out of seven days is fine. I'm in a rush, and there's that sort of ambiguity instead of that 100% commitment. This is absolutely happening every single time, and that's like a knife edge being cut along the same groove every time. And you really make a deep cut, and it becomes a deep memory. It becomes a habit. So I could be wrong. It could be 75, because I think there was a point where I just said, no, Darius, this is happening. You're going to make this commitment to yourself. This is happening every single day, even if it's for 3 seconds, and that's it. But you're going to do it every single day, no matter what.

        Erica: After your shower, I think you hit on something really, really important. Really, really important. That is a big indicator of success, which is commitment, that we often go in with, like, an 80, percent

        Erica: commitment. And if you have an 80% commitment and you want to reach automaticity, it's going to take you far, much longer, whereas if you have 100% commitment, you'll reach automaticity at a much faster rate. So I think you just hit on something so important, and I think that if you really, really don't want to lose things, one of the most important things to do is to make 100% commitment.

        Darius: Agreed. So you decide. So, in a way, we could conclude on that, really? Because what we've said in all of this is design it well, okay. And then 100% commit to it, you.

        Erica: Know, and it has to be reliable.

        Darius: Reliable, yeah. And that's part of a good design. So reliable. So, we've discussed what's going on with regard to automaticity and this intentionality and how we use this bridge. What we're going to do is create a bridge from where we're at the moment to automaticity. And that involves, how do you process information? How do you build a habit? How do you. And that. That moves over into the how, the practicalities, the fine design. Are we putting it. Are we doing it before we're going in the door? Are we doing it after the door? Are we putting it in this pocket? We're putting on this chain. Are we making it easy to do and smooth and fluid, etcetera. So that's kind of like the how. And, once you've got a how, that is easy enough to do. Okay. Once you internally feel, do you know what that idea, Darius said of having a chain around my neck that's easy to open and put my key, my rings on? I could do that with two hands. Before I put Clay on my hands, I could do that. And then you say, I'm going to commit to doing that. Every single day that I wash, every time I washed dishes, I'm going to put it on my chain. Every time I do clay modeling, I'm going to put it on my chain. Every time I go to bed, I'm going to put it on my chain and hang my chain beside my bed. You know, every single time. I'm committed to do that, then you've got a great chance of success and.

        Erica: Satisfaction yeah, I think so.

        Darius: And once you do it with a little thing like your key, your wallet, your rings, your earbuds, you then start doing that same practice in your work. And it's like every time I come on my computer, I'm going to do this particular little thing that's really important to me. I'm going to make it really easy every time I do this, and you start putting in these little building blocks for people like you and me and you listening, this might, executive function might not come automatically to you, naturally to you. So what you do is you intentionally find those crucial, important things that, you know, need to be designed into your life. And basically, this is a fascinating design exercise. And our brains are so good at designing solutions, often with the different minds, with dyslexia or adhd or autism, or whatever neurodivergence you've got comes with it. This sort of, of predilection towards designing things, solving problems in new and diverse ways. And if you turn that way of thinking towards yourself and your own processes, it has massive payoffs.

        Erica: It does. And you can get so creative on, what it is that you want to, what your strategy is going to look like. I can think of a little girl, wherever she designed her own book bag. She designed her own tote bag, but you can get creative with it. And there's so many cool designs out there. And I'm sure that even if you did a little search for, if you're like, oh, I love the belt idea.

        Erica: look for belts with little hidden sections in them, or even something a little bit bigger than a lanyard that has a little bit of a pouch that you can wear or something that you find is cool. It could be something that straps onto your shoe or onto your leg. It could be anything. But see what's most comfortable for you, what you think is cool, what you think will work. And see if you can take some of these time suckers out of your life so that you can have more time to relax and not stress about the things that we commonly lose.

        Darius: Absolutely. M Erica, great chat.

        Erica: Always fun. Thanks, Darius. Thank you for joining our conversation here at the Personal Brain trainer podcast. This is Dr Erica Warren and, Darius Namdaran.

        Darius: Check out the show notes for links to resources mentioned

        Darius: in the podcast, and please leave us a review and share us on social media until next time. Bye.