I’ve talked about my use of Anki for years now, and it’s a tool I’ve used on-and-off for nearly a decade and one I’ve used every single day for almost five years.
While I use it for a lot of different purposes, one of the early uses was to better remember names and faces. It’s something I often have struggled with and as I find myself in more situations with lots of people who I should know, such as a couple of boards that I’m on, it’s a wildly helpful tool.
Remembering the names of people that you meet isn’t necessarily difficult, but it takes a bit of effort. When people say they’re bad at remembering names, I don’t buy it — they just don’t care enough to do anything about it.
However, I’m finding that I put two very different kinds of people in Anki and both are helpful.
The main type of card I add is for people that I know personally, will see personally, and it’d be great if I could always remember their name. This is probably 90% of the people I store in there and it’s fantastic.
I’ll never meet them in person
However, I also add in cards for people that I might never meet in person, generally clients that are out-of-state. This is of lesser value, but I’m finding it worthwhile. While most of our interactions will be via video chat, so their name will be on the screen right in front of me, it’s nice to remember their name during other parts of the day.
For example, we’ll be having a team meeting and someone will say “Should we add x feature to Acme? Who should we talk to over there?“, it’s nice to immediately have a name and face come to mind for our Acme client, so my response can be “Great idea, I’ll reach out to Susan this afternoon”.
I’m considering adding a few more in a different category, called something like “people I should know about but will never meet”. This would primarily be political, to remember who my local senators are and things like that, but we’ll see. Right now my overall Anki use is getting a bit too high, so I need a bit more space to open up before I add much more.
“I’m bad at names”
Most people consider themselves pretty bad at remembering names, but it can be solved. You can just own the fact that you’re bad at remembering names, or you can do something about it.
I’m still very imperfect at remembering names, and they sometimes escape my brain at the wrong time, but I’m 10x better than I was in the past so I’ll consider that to be a solid investment of my time.
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