You know when you feel like you need to do something but you can't remember what it is?

You almost feel a little anxious because you can't remember what you were going to do / what you need to do.

Is there a name for this feeling?

  • 1
    Isn't that called anxiety?? Unless you're over 50, and then you're just feeling old.
    – Jim
    Sep 5, 2014 at 5:17
  • I think maybe that's "destinesia". Sep 5, 2014 at 5:18
  • 1
    I know exactly what you mean, this happens when I'm visiting a specific place and have three or more tasks/errands/bureaucratic procedures I have to deal with. And I've always said: "I know there's something else I should do (buy/say/ask), but I can't remember what it is" The answer always arrives the minute I open my front door.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 5, 2014 at 5:35
  • "At a loss" comes to mind but it is not related to remembering.
    – ermanen
    Sep 5, 2014 at 5:45
  • This might be some kind of deficit in working memory.
    – ermanen
    Sep 5, 2014 at 6:07

2 Answers 2


There is a term in cognitive psychology for this:

The doorway effect

From Michael Roizen, MD, answering at Sharecare:

Example: You walk across the room to get the newspaper. No problem. Walk through a doorway into another room to get it and -- zap! -- your memory is Windexed. You arrive clueless.

In Why Walking through a Doorway Makes You Forget, a Scientific American article by Charles B. Brenner and Jeffrey M. Zacks (December 13, 2011), some thoughts on what causes the doorway effect are discussed:

some forms of memory seem to be optimized to keep information ready-to-hand until its shelf life expires, and then purge that information in favor of new stuff. Radvansky and colleagues call this sort of memory representation an “event model,” and propose that walking through a doorway is a good time to purge your event models because whatever happened in the old room is likely to become less relevant now that you have changed venues.

The article discusses walking through a doorway as an example of that kind of event that can cause the mind to purge itself of less important memories. It goes on to say that, more generally...

Psychologists have known for a while that memory works best when the context during testing matches the context during learning

Further reading of the article says that experimental evidence suggests that, contrary to common expectations, returning to the place where the thought was originally formed (restoring the context) does not seem to restore the memory.

  • This is very interesting, but I think OP is looking for a word to describe the symptoms ( the feeling ) rather than the cause.
    – user66974
    Sep 5, 2014 at 7:04
  • 1
    @Josh61 - the tags include "phrases". The term "doorway effect" is used to describe the condition (or the symptoms). My answer also provides authoritative background on the condition in support of my recommended answer. Sep 5, 2014 at 7:30

Probably annoyance can convey the idea you want to express:

  • a cause of irritation or vexation; a nuisance.
  • the feeling of being annoyed

Or if you need a stronger connotation you may use:


  • a feeling of anger or annoyance caused by being unable to do something : the state of being frustrated

  • something that causes feelings of anger and annoyance : something that frustrates someone

Source: www.thefreedictionary.com

  • Nice but a little to vague, I was hoping for something more specific.
    – Mou某
    Sep 5, 2014 at 5:58

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