I suspect a lot of people get up and walk to another room only to arrive there without a clue what they meant to do. I do this all the time. I have secretly suspected I lacked sufficient attention, sometimes I've blamed it on overload, but upon further reflection I think my issue has a lot to do with the fact that I’m a visual person.
At work someone asks me for something they need. I say, “Sure,” and head to my office intending to take care of it right away. When I sit down, however, my memory is wiped clean. My colleagues often have to ask twice before they actually get what they need. I am chagrined; I am confident I will not forget again!
Apart from carrying an overload of information in my brain, I suspect another culprit is my messy desk. I tend to drop things on it to handle “in a bit” and when I rush to my office to complete that task, the instant I sit down and see all those reminders of other tasks, the visual is more powerful than the auditory request someone made just seconds prior.
This is my desk:
What to do, what to do?
Last time a patient co-worker made a second request, I suggested she put a sticky note on the edge of my computer screen. I felt silly asking her to do this, but honestly, the visual reminder placed in my line of vision proved to be a powerful aid.
Another help is that we’ve installed whiteboards in our offices with cute little stainless wire baskets mounted on the wall to hold colorful dry erase markers. The boards are supposed to hold our current and upcoming tasks. My board is used less than it should be. When I do use the whiteboard to list my tasks, it works wonders. I LOVE being able to wipe off tasks and there is a nasty rumor circulating that sometimes I write tasks down just so I can wipe them off!
Help for the Visual-Spatial Child
How can we tailor this scenario to the visual-spatial child? I think any child would enjoy having a little whiteboard mounted with a dangling, colorful dry erase marker on which a parent or the child themself could write a to-do list. It sure beats nagging or assuming the child just neglected to complete a task! You can buy dry erase surfaces with a sticky back that make it really easy to mount on a door, desk or wall. If you help a child get into the habit of writing on the board the reminders of what they are to do (or draw pictures if they cannot write yet) life will be sweeter for everyone!
Remember, your visual learner will probably forget what they hear but will remember what they see!