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8 Things You Should’ve Memorized a Long Time Ago

Let’s be honest – part of the reason most of us drank this GTD Kool-aid in the first place was that we were tired of forgetting things. Meetings, lunches, dentist appointments – all the crap that we were too busy (and, frankly, ill-equipped) to recall exactly when we needed to do so. So, we got our notebooks, planners and hipster PDAs to solve that problem. But that’s not why I called you here today.

There are certain bits of information that you *should* count on your brain to be able to retrieve quickly. Things that you won’t need very often, but it’ll probably be extremely helpful and efficient if you do.

The vast majority of these things are about you. Things that will be as helpful during conversations with the police or your health insurance company as they would be at your local grocery store.


  1. Social Security Number – This is helpful in any number of situations (though, most of them fairly rare), especially the last four digits which are commonly used to verify your identity when doing things like upgrading your cable service or canceling your cell phone. If you have a family and/or children, these are also especially good to have tucked away in your brain.
  2. Debit Card Number – I learned this one a few years back after having to repeatedly retrieve my debit card from the dresser when ordering a pizza or maybe something from Amazon. Sure, you may not need this one too often, but I can tell you from personal experience that being able to go from pizza inspiration to order completion (all while driving home from a car dealership) without ever having to reach into my pocket is, well, pretty freakin’ cool. Oh, and you might want to remember on the CVV number (3-4 digit verification code, typically on the back of the card), as it’s often used to verify that you’re the actual card holder when making purchases online.
  3. Driver License Number – Another thing that invariably comes up when applying for a Blockbuster membership or something, this is also a pretty nice thing to know if you lose your wallet/purse so you can quickly and easily request a new license. And, honestly, do you have this information written down anywhere? If I do, I’d have no clue where it is – which is why it’s in my brain :)
  4. Automobile Insurance Policy Number – So, your car rolled ass-backward into the ocean? Maybe somebody snatched it while you were in the grocery store. Either way, most of us keep our insurance information shoved in the car’s glove compartment instead of in our wallets (I realize there are exceptions, no need for all of you to correct me ;) . And since you already have your insurance company’s phone number stored in your cell phone, being able to give them your policy number will make things go much smoother.
  5. Checking Account Number – Another one of those things it’s nice to have if you lose your wallet somehow (and you haven’t memorized your debit card number). When you call the bank to cancel all of your cards and checks, it greatly speeds up the process if they can use the number and won’t have to sift through a list of John Smiths, trying to figure out which one is you.
  6. Your Phone Number – I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this one for completeness’ sake. But, before you scoff and guffaw your way to the next item in your feed reader, know that a great many people use their cell phone as their primary mode of communication, but have a landline at home to allow for things like DSL. Often times, that number is how your account is identified with various service providers. So, if nothing else, you’ve got another number to try when Time Warner asks for “the phone number on the account”.
  7. Car License Plate Number – I’ll bet this has happened to most of us at least once: Ever been sitting someplace, perhaps out for a quick bite with some friends, when you hear “Would the owner of the White Toyota Corolla License Number ABCX123 please report to the front desk. Thank you”. First of all, I realize you might be able to eliminate most of these situations by just knowing what your plate number is *not*, but this isn’t the only situation where this type of thing comes up. This is a good one even for no other reason than it’d be nice to know that your car was about to be towed.
  8. Health Insurance Member/ID Number – This one goes for the whole family. Being the father of two small kids, I make a good amount of doctor’s appointments. Whether it’s for my daughter’s well-baby checkups or for my son’s kidney thing (not serious, don’t worry), I’m having to recite these numbers (for my kids more than myself) at least a couple times per month. So, instead of always needing to look them up on Stikkit, I just sat down one day for 5 minutes and repeated them both until I remembered them. Problem freakin’ solved :)

Special Bonus: A good friend of mine has claimed that, if you’re ever in a grocery store without your membership/club/big brother card, the phone number 867-5309 will work (regardless of area code). I have no idea if this works, but for some reason I have no trouble believing that it does. If it doesn’t, well, sorry :)

Granted, most of these things won’t be of use on a daily basis. But I think of it like this – The David admonishes us to, whenever writing something down, include the current date. Why? Because, even though it’s not always useful, the 3% of the time that it *is* useful is more than enough to justify getting into the habit of doing it!

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