Retired NFL Player George Visger: Memory Strategies That Work

Retired NFL Player George Visger has more than 28 notebooks that do for him what his short-term memory cannot.

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And I just learned over the years various coping mechanisms. I learned to--I mean, I have 20 years of these. I write down everything that goes on in my day, every day. And I'll have 1:30--you know, I drove to the site--you know, 1:47, I spoke to Ed, this is what we talked about. At the end of the day, I might have 15 or 20 pages of-- and people that know me and work with me-- when they call me, the first thing they say, "Do you have your notebook handy?" "Hang on," and I write down 11:15 or 11:19--sometihing--and we start talking, and I'm scratching down notes, and when we get done, I'll read back through what we talked about, and I'll highlight--you know, hot things that I need to re-read again several times over, so every few days I'll read back the previous maybe week or two. So, I've read them over two or three times and it starts to reinforce things. Even though I don't really remember meeting with Mike Sanchez last Wednesday, I read it four times, and I know I did. You know, so I've learned to do that. I keep Post-it in business. I buy thousands and thousands of Post-its. If I have something coming up, I'll write a note. I put it on my mirror. I know in the morning when I go to brush my teeth--there it is. Don't forget your 11:00 appointment. I get out in my truck--same Post-it on my dashboard. I open up my computer--there are four on my computer right now as we speak. When I go to work, "Oh yeah, don't forget this and this and this." I have beepers that go off at two weeks, one week. In fact, for this meeting--5, 4, 3, 2, 1 days in advance, and then the day of this meeting, it'll go off every hour, and then the hour prior it goes off every 15 minutes. I'll have all those go off and sometimes 30 minutes prior, if I don't have something to remind-- and I get busy working on a report, and I'll get a phone call two or three hours later, someone will go, "Well, where were you?" "What do you mean, where was--" "You missed a meeting." I've had 25 reminders, but I didn't have that one 10 minutes before. These are various--and I tell people, you'll never hurt my feelings if you call to remind me about something. I run my own business. I have a small consulting--environmental consulting business-- or I did, and I had four other biologists working for me and one gal who was running the office. I told them all--I said, "Don't ever feel like you're going to hurt my feelings if you need to call me during the day and just make sure that I'm on task on something."
Posted on BrainLine January 3, 2013.

About the author: George Visger

A defensive lineman on the San Francisco 49ers’ first Super Bowl champions in 1981-82, George Visger has lived with a shunt in his brain ever since — a consequence of the cumulative concussions. He is now a prominent figure in the fight for fair treatment of retired NFL players.

George Visger

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Jared Schaubert, BrainLine, and Dan Edblom.