The Mighty Logo

25 'Hacks' That Can Make Life With Brain Fog Easier

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Brain fog is one of the most frustrating symptoms that can accompany chronic illness. When your short-term memory and thought processes are impaired by either illness or medication, it can have a significant impact on your everyday ability to function. You may find yourself missing appointments, forgetting to pay bills or being unable to recall important names, dates or events.

To help those who struggle day to day with brain fog, we asked our Mighty community to share “hacks” that can help make life with brain fog easier. Maybe some of the following can help you navigate through life a bit more easily, too.

Here’s what the community shared with us:

1. “I carry my cell everywhere. It has all my appointments, addresses, mapping system (I sometimes can’t figure out where I am on bad days), phone numbers, to do lists, shopping lists and reminders to pick up my youngest. I would be lost without it.”

2. “Sometimes certain music can help, if my migraine isn’t too severe. Dance music with a steady beat is most helpful to me, but I think different things work better for different people.”

3. “Sticky notes! Seriously, [they] are the best thing ever. I write down phone calls (as I will forget who I’ve just talked to and what they said), to-do lists, things to remember, pretty much everything and then stick them in the appropriate places like on the fridge, computer screen, diary, my desk. Makes life heaps easier and I can throw them away when I’m done. Plus they come in heaps of colors so it helps cheer me up and as they are sticky I can put them pretty much anywhere, making them harder to lose.”

4. “I try to avoid driving on really bad days, if possible, and if I go out anywhere, having someone with me to tell me to grab my purse or (if I leave it at home) to remind me I didn’t bring it when I start freaking out, thinking I left it somewhere.”

5. “I have almost 50 pages loaded on my Safari that I can scroll through to remember what I was looking for/doing.”

6. “I never go to important places alone… doctor appointments, meetings, etc. I need someone there who is hearing all the information so [they] can jog my memory later, keep me accountable or help me remember future dates.”

7. “I use Cozi. It’s a family calendar app that both my husband and I can add things to. In addition to the calendar it has to-do lists we can assign to a specific person, shopping lists and a notepad. I can use it on all my devices and husband’s work calendar can link to it so I know where he is (he travels a lot).”

8. “I put things in places where I know I’ll see them to remind me to do something, because even though the phone sets off an alarm I could not remember what I was supposed to do.”

9. “Repetition, repetition, repetition! I’m constantly talking to myself. At the store if I need milk, I say milk with each step as I walk to the aisle.”

10. “I ask for printouts of everything: appointment reminders, info that was gone over, meeting minutes, etc. I need a physical copy or it’s likely to be forgotten.”


11. “I use my memo pad in my cell phone – often my fingers don’t work the way I want them to so I record voice memos to myself about things I need to remember or things I need to be doing. I listen to my memos when I get home – in front of my calendar – so I can get it written down.”

12. “Photo capture everything I can or take a picture of it. I go through my photos for the day in the mornings when it’s not full of sound in my house.”

13. “If I’m with someone who doesn’t [have] brain fog, I’ll ask them to remember something for me I’ll need to remember later.”

14. “Use games to stimulate your brain. I do logic puzzles and play video games, but crosswords, jumbles, word games like Catchphrase or even chess can help with exercising your brain and sharpening your cognition/memory. I also take notes or use spreadsheets when I play video games to help keep track of what I’m doing.”

15. “For the brain fog of zoning out and not remembering where I am or what I’m doing for a few seconds, I just take a deep breath and close my eyes for a second or two and try to let the words come to my brain instead of panicking because I can’t remember exactly what I was doing. Sometimes I have to move along and then it will come back to me; sometimes I never remember.”

16. “When I think of something during a conversation and I can’t say it right then, I hold my finger (yes, I literally just hold my pointer finger with my other hand) until I can say it. It actually does help me to not forget.”

17. “These days I use a paper planner. I used to use my phone, but I’d forget I had the note. I use the Ultimate Diary Planner which allows me to plan over the course of a week and mix my to-do lists with priorities and appointments without being too prescriptive with it.”

18. “I repeat my schedule like a mantra often during a day. Today is Monday, I am doing X Y Z. Tomorrow is Tuesday, I am doing A B C. Wednesday I am doing 1 2 3.”

19. “Cleaning my room helps me to organize my thoughts. Because when it’s a mess around me, it’s a mess in my mind. Seriously, it helps a lot.”

20. “My Lumosity app helps me work on retaining what brain functions I do have and sharpen those skills as much as possible. It’s my proactive way of planning to retain as much autonomy and independence as possible as I get older.”

21. “Repeating stuff helps. I always say someone’s name back to them when I learn it the first time, for example, or if I’m given verbal instructions, repeating them back to the person to make sure I got it right.”

22. “I always turn a light on above the oven if I am using the stove or oven. I forget to turn it off often. If the light is off, the oven is off.”

23. “Write everything down! Grocery lists, appointments, meetings, etc. Even then I still get anxiety about forgetting something important. As far as remembering if and when I’ve taken my meds, I bought a pill sorter shortly after being diagnosed. This has helped significantly to be able to double-check if I’ve taken my meds by simply looking at the container.”

24. “Texting so I can read what they said repeatedly so if I forget when I’m responding, I can go back as a reference.”

25. “Compassion for myself as well as for others.”

Originally published: August 9, 2017
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home