Bad memory? Try this old Japanese trick

Bad memory? Try this old Japanese trick

Everyone’s an idiot sometimes, and the sooner we accept it, the sooner we can stop organic idiocy before it happens again.

This is why pilots work in pairs, why publishers have spell-check and proofreaders, and why cars won’t start in park.

This idea that most mistakes can be caught before they do damage is actually an old Japanese philosophy known as poka-yoke, which roughly translates to ‘error-proofing’.

Popularized by Toyota engineer Shigeo Shingo in the 1960s, poka-yoke was originally implemented to make sure assembly line workers didn’t inadvertently skip steps of the process that screwed up production down the line.

Today, it pokes its head into professional matters in thousands of covert ways, some big (a missile launch require the turning of two keys simultaneously) to small (a program asking if you’re sure you want to quit).


Related: Exercise Your Memory with this Brain Workout

Using poka-yoke, you can idiot-proof your own life with this ideology. For example:

Do you ever find yourself mid-shower and unable to remember if you already shampooed your hair?

Poka-yoke that process – turn the container upside-down after you use it, which signals the shampoo job is done (be sure to turn it right-side-up before the next shower).

Prone to sending emails you quickly regret?

Go to your Gmail preferences and click ’enable undo send’ to give yourself up to 30 seconds to cancel any sent message before it hits inbox doomsday.

These are just two simple examples, but the main key to poka-yoke is just being conscious of your own mistakes, and applying this idiot-proofing to other aspects, maybe more important, in your life (though emails and hygiene are important). This takes a measure of emotional intelligence, so be honest with yourself, and be forgiving.

Photo Credit: WAYHOME studio/; Orawan Pattarawimonchai/

Facebook Comments