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What is a memory log?


The longer you wait, the more your memories of a certain event fade. You can hardly remember details or the course of a situation. Later, you may regret that you did not write anything down. This can even be detrimental to you, should this information be important for insurance purposes, for example. To avoid problems, it is, therefore, advisable to make a memory log.

A memory log is a subjective account of your thoughts after an important incident. It is based on memories and notes. This form of record is primarily for private purposes and is not intended to be shared with others. Therefore, a memory log is not subject to any rules or norms.

It is always a great help to write a memory protocol (also called a "reminder protocol") after an incident (e.g. a car accident), verbally made agreements or a procedure with the authorities. This protocol can be referred to and read through again at any time as an aid to memory. You should therefore get into the habit of creating a memory log, especially after a negative incident. This will prevent you from forgetting important details.

However, it is not only useful to make a memory log for a negative incident. A memory log can also be a good aid in remembering events in everyday working life or agreements made in everyday family life. In this way, what has been said can be recalled later. Such a protocol also helps with very private concerns: in the case of recurring pain, a corresponding protocol can simplify the medical diagnosis.


  • How is a memory protocol structured?

  • How do I go about writing a memory protocol?

  • What can a memory protocol look like?

  • Advantages and disadvantages of a memory protocol


The memory protocol serves as a written reminder. There are no fixed rules that you have to follow. However, you should observe a few principles in order to benefit from the memory protocol at a later point in time: the closer in time you write this protocol, the more accurate it is because your memories are still fresh. Furthermore, it is important to include as many details as possible (and necessary) in the protocol. Voice notes, photos and videos can serve as important additions. But how do you build a memory log if it is not subject to formal guidelines?


First, gather all records, photos, receipts, video footage, voice messages, etc. related to the incident, if any. Now start writing down all the memories. Keywords or sentence fragments are also sufficient. You can always formulate them later. Then put everything in the right order. Don't forget to write down the date, the approximate time and the place. Also, write down what can be seen in photos or video footage and summarise what was said in voice messages. This is important in case files are deleted unintentionally or a hard drive fails.

Now start to formulate complete sentences and write a text from them, relating the key points to each other. You can also formulate a result or a summary at the end of the protocol, should the memory protocol be a reminder for an agreement or something from everyday work. In this last part, you also record whether further appointments or ideas have been agreed upon or whether you have taken on new commitments.


Tip: If you don't know exactly how to start, answer the W-questions: What happened? When? Why? What was the trigger? What are the consequences of this event? This will make it easier for you to get started and you will have something to guide you.


Be sure to keep all your notes on an incident collected in one place and label them so that you can easily refer back to them at a later time. This way, if needed, you can always refer back to a specific event.


Since you are making a memory log only for yourself at first, it is not subject to any guidelines. You can design your memory log as you wish and as it suits your flow of thoughts. However, it is advisable to keep to a certain order or structure in order to keep the protocol clear.


Tip: If you want your protocol to be read by others, you should make sure that you describe the incident in a factual manner. It is up to you whether you first write a protocol for yourself privately and then use this document to create another one for someone else, or whether you directly prepare a fair copy. Often, however, the first method helps to make the second protocol more neutral.



A memory log can be an excellent aid in remembering an event or a conversation later. If you have written down many details, you will be able to recall them when you read them. This helps to recapitulate the event. However, it can also happen that you make mistakes while taking notes and write down wrong or unimportant details. In this way, the memory log could even be a hindrance to remembering or - even worse - manifest false memories.

Additional material can help against a patchy memory. With photos and videos, however, there is the problem of files being accidentally deleted, not being retrieved or no longer being able to be opened. Damage to the hard drive can also cause your data to be lost. Therefore, you should include all crucial information from pictures, voice memos or videos in your written notes as well - as double security. This is especially important for incidents that are of interest to the insurance company.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages at a glance:

  • Good memory aid

  • Photos, video and voice files as additional memory aids

  • No fixed format

  • Helps in private and professional situations

  • Evokes clouded memories in the case of erroneous or incomplete notes

  • Digital data can easily be lost (e.g. by accidental deletion)

  • It is not an official document


Especially in the case of negative incidents, you should get into the habit of writing a memory log. Even if you only write down keywords at first, these can later serve you to recover your memories. With a structured and chronological log, the memory log will be of great help to you should you wish to report or bring up an incident.


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