Future You Is Dumb (sorry!)

Posted on Sep 1, 2020

Back when I was a teacher, we had to fill in a register and record of work. This helped other teachers know what we had done in the last class and so they could prepare material for the following class. Some teachers saw this as unnecessary as they never shared classes, and so when they were off sick they would be contacted several times to find out what on earth they had been up to for the last few months. Most teachers included a few rough notes and some references to materials that could be helpful up to a point. I made it my aim to help my future self…who is an idiot.

I have a bad natural memory; I forget almost everything. It’s one of the reasons I love pen, paper, and task management apps — they have helped me avoid many problems. However, putting a note down doesn’t always help my future self.

A note can be useful, or it can be confusing.

When writing a note we are prone to the “curse of knowledge” where we assume that our future self will have the same information at hand that we do. That is rarely true. Instead, we will have a whole different set of memories and data clouding our perspective.

Assuming that our future self is a dumb idiot who won’t remember a thing is a great way to write a note that will be useful in the future.

And it was also a great way to write notes in records of work that helped teachers who had to cover classes.

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