Be more of a documentarian [#39]

It's really important to record & store your memories so you don't forget them.

Be more of a documentarian [#39]

The official definition of "documentarian" from the Merriam-Webster dictionary is:

documentarian (noun): one who makes a documentary

But that definition is kinda lame. Here's my definition:

documentarian (noun): one who makes efforts to create and preserve media (writing, photos, videos, songs) for their future self

Let's talk about why being more of a documentarian is really important.


Our memories tend to be pretty terrible. I could ask you the cliche "Hey, what did you have for breakfast two days ago?" and you probably wouldn't remember. But you probably don't care what you had for breakfast two days ago.

But I bet that there are things you really do want to remember.

You want to remember that ski vacation with your friends – the one where you made snow angels with your friends until you were freezing and then hurried back to the warmth of the hot tub. You want to remember that great moment at school (or work) where you helped a peer with something and you felt really good about it. You want to remember that delicious Italian cuisine you devoured with a family member.

The best way to remember these things is to become a documentarian. If you don't (1) record those memories through media and (2) store those memories, you might lose some of those memories forever.


The first step of becoming a documentarian is recording your memories. There are four main ways you can record your memories: music, photos, videos, and writing. Let's go over each of them.

  • Yes, you can encode memories in music! If you listen to a song or album enough while experiencing thing A, listening to that song or album again will trigger you to remember thing A.
  • Recording your memories with photos should be very self-explanatory. Just take photos of experiences you want to remember. I would caution against taking too many photos, because it will dilute your photo album and make it harder for you to find photos that actually trigger memories.
  • Videos are pretty effective, but they take up a large amount of storage and it can be hard to take good videos.
  • I find that writing is the best way (at least for me) to record your memories. Journaling is great for documenting your daily life, and publishing blog posts is a great way to really see what your thoughts were like in the past.


The second (and final) step of becoming a documentarian is storing your memories. This may not seem that important, but it's surprisingly easy to lose them if you aren't careful. My general rule of thumb:

Never store your important memories in just one place.

Personally, I like to store my memories in three separate places: once in the cloud (Dropbox or Google Drive works fine), once on my computer, and once on a flash drive.