The Best Ways to Remember Birthdays
Never forget to reach out on someone’s special day.
Remembering birthdays is tough — they’re often just one more thing to juggle in your busy life. Too often they drop through the cracks! Yet remembering birthdays is a massively important skill that can deepen your relationships. Birthdays are like names — highly personal, and very meaningful. When you remember someone’s birthday, you make them feel special. You also demonstrate that you were listening when they shared that information with you, and you show that you care enough about them to remember it and wish them a happy birthday. All of this shows them that you are making an effort to be thoughtful and caring towards them.
A birthday is a wonderful chance to celebrate someone’s life and what they mean to you. Unfortunately, unless you have an incredible memory, you will forget the birthdays of people you care about!
Thankfully, there are multiple approaches you can take to help you remember birthdays. We’ll cover four approaches below.
The Best Ways to Remember Birthdays
1. Associate the birthdays with dates important to you
The first approach is the simplest, but it is also the most limited. It works best for close friends or colleagues that you see or talk to often. When someone tells you their birthday, make a mental note of the birthday, and associate it to another date that you are unlikely to forget. For example, if someone tells you that their birthday is November 20, you might tie that birthday date to Thanksgiving, since it's only about a week away. Then, each time you anticipate Thanksgiving’s arrival you’ll hopefully remember the birthday.
This system works by increasing the mental surface area of the birthday so that you’ll be more likely to think of it. However, this trick will likely just help you remember the general vicinity of the birthday date, and not the actual birthday date itself. You’ll probably have to refer to a calendar for that. Also, this trick only works for 5-10 people before it starts breaking down. Thus, we’d recommend pairing it with the next approach for best results.
2. Write it down on a physical calendar
The next option takes a bit more work, but is much more precise than the previous tactic. It works for all kinds of relationships, no matter how often you see or talk to the person. When someone tells you their birthday, write it down in a physical calendar. You can use your normal calendar, but remember to transfer the birthdays each year! Alternatively, you can keep a birthday calendar with just dates (no days of the week) that will not become outdated. Either way, place this calendar in a prominent place of your house or office where you will look at it routinely.
This is an extremely dependable technique, but it is not foolproof — you might miss an important birthday if you forget to check the calendar one day, or if you go on vacation away from your house.
3. Add it to a digital calendar
Similarly to the above tip, this is a precise system that requires a bit of work to implement. Instead of writing down the birthday on a physical calendar, enter it into your digital calendar — Google Calendar, Apple iCloud Calendar, etc. Thankfully, you also don’t have to do all the work manually, either! Some calendars will automatically pull in birthdays from your contacts, and with a little work you can also import birthdays from some of your social media, like Facebook!
Once you’ve imported your birthdays, you can organize them, add them to a specific birthday calendar, and much more. Remember, customize the system as much or as little as you’d like, as long as it’s a system you will use.
This is a superior system to the first solution, and is easier to get started on than the second solution. However it is not without its constraints. Since you store so many other events in your digital calendar, it’s easy for birthday reminders to get lost. You also might get birthday notifications for a person who you don’t remember! In that case, you may not be sure if you need to reach out to wish them happy birthday. Thus a birthday reminder app might be a good solution for you.
4. Use a birthday reminder app
Using an app designed to help you remember birthdays is the most robust approach, although it may require some initial calibration. A birthday app aggregates the birthdays of everyone you know into an easily accessible application. The best birthday apps even reduce the manual work needed to remember birthdays by integrating into your social accounts to prepopulate birthdays! The apps can then send you smart prompts to wish someone a happy birthday at the right time.
This holistic and proactive approach reduces the likelihood that you forget to check your calendar. The best birthday apps, including Clay, will also provide you context with how you know the person, along with any notes you’ve taken about your relationship. Clay also allows you to import all your Facebook birthdays with just one click!
There are numerous birthday reminder apps you can try, but we’ve designed Clay to be a holistic way for you to be more thoughtful with people. Birthdays are just one part of that. Set reminders, take notes, and even be prompted to reach out when it’s been a while since you’ve spoken to someone. Get started today.