Why do you write Memoranda?

Like most bloggers, I am subscribed to quite a number of RSS feeds. Most of these I try to read as often as possible, many of these I seldom read, but there are a small number of feeds I read daily.

One of these is the Quotations Page.

Here’s one witty and cynical quote that I read today:

Bureaucrats write memoranda both because they appear to be busy when they are writing and because the memos, once written, immediately become proof that they were busy.

– Charles Peters

This quote immediately struck a chord in me, as I felt that it perfectly encapsulated the corporate world I know (if you replace “memoranda” with “documents”). However, I have a different opinion on this.

One of my long-standing nicknames is “Flash ROM“, due to the extremely volatile characteristics of my memory (actually, Flash ROMs are anything but volatile – but my nickname came from a pun on the concept that these are a kind of ROM that can be easily erased). Anyway, due to this problem of mine, I have picked up a habit of recording as much as I possibly can, for future reference.

That’s why I carry a PDA wherever I go, post links to del.icio.us for any noteworthy web pages, and keep a blog to record any pressing thoughts I have.

Here is another quote, which reflect my sentiments:

I write down everything I want to remember. That way, instead of spending a lot of time trying to remember what it is I wrote down, I spend the time looking for the paper I wrote it down on.

– Beryl Pfizer

This habit of mine naturally extends to even my workplace, and I habitually try (if at all possible) to prepare an outline of any meeting I attend. If these notes were recorded in a paper notepad, I periodically digitize them into my computer (usually using EverNote). This has proven to be a life-saver on numerous occasions.

Let’s take one example (albeit exaggerated) scenario:
You’re sure someone said something minor in a meeting 4 months ago. That minor point has suddenly become a major issue, but you can’t remember the details for the life of you. Since it was considered a minor point at that time, it was not written in the minutes of that meeting.

If this happens to me, I can pull out the outline of that meeting from EverNote within minutes.

That’s why I write memoranda.

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