Improving your Memory
Tips and techniques to help you remember...
...you know, that thing... I forgot.
Great for students...but other folks could benifet from these tips, as well.
Having problems forgetting appointments, to-dos, errands, feeding your children and pets, picking up after yourself, getting out of bed... not to mention forgetting birthdays, and even anniversaries?
If you are like many people, you will often find yourself forgetting something. In an age of computers, PDA’s, and many other devices - this my be ok for some folks, unless you forget where you put those devices. Others may want to increase their ability to memorize things - luckily there are a few creative ways you can improve your long and short term memory.
Use your Senses & Be Aware
Practice creating vivid images/concepts in your head - using all of your senses. Analyze your surroundings by sound, sight, smell, taste, and touch. Being aware all of your senses will give your mind more ways to associate (and thus remember) when it is time to recall something.
This is like form of meditation -- which is good for your brain in a variety of ways. (see our article: Interesting Ways to Improve Your Brain for more info).
Practice this tip of simply being more aware of your surroundings everyday and you will find your general memory greatly improved.
Humor & Vulgarity
If you need to memorize something specific try using humor or vulgarity as a memory aid.
Make a nasty or funny limerick or poem about something that needs to be remembered and you'll have a hard time forgetting. (Great tip for students).
Example: Guitar students are sometimes taught to remember the common 5 string tuning of EADGBE with this:
Every Asshole Does Good But Eddie
Don't worry, be Mindful
There has been a lot said about the power of positive thinking. Recently, a huge bandwagon of new-age positive thought = positive outcome theories have been on tips of everyone's tongue from Oprah to your local convenience store clerk. Just do a google search for "Law of Attraction" or "The Secret" if you aren't in the
Negative thoughts fog our minds, but clearing out the negative and focusing on the positive also improves memory & concentration.
Stress is a big brain buster, so minimize stress and negative thoughts to keep your wits.
Apt Quote: “What to do if you find yourself stuck in a crack in the ground underneath a giant boulder you can't move, with no hope of rescue. Consider how lucky you are that life has been good to you so far. Alternatively, if life hasn't been good to you so far, which given your current circumstances seems more likely, consider how lucky you are that it won't be troubling you much longer.” - Douglas Adams
See the Future
Have trouble remembering to-dos, appointments, meetings, deadlines, birthdays and other future events?
Here is the secret: When you know you have an upcoming event you don't want to forget, picture yourself at the event. What are you doing, who is there, what does it smell like? Imagine the event...even better: imagine yourself taking the steps that lead to the event.
For example... let's say tomorrow you have to call the someone. Picture yourself in your home/office, picture yourself picking up the phone, imagine dialing the number and talking to the person of the other end.
Association is among one of the easiest and most used tools in learning. This is the process of taking the information you wish to memorize, and linking it mentally to something else that is natural to you. When learning something new, try to associate the new concept with one to which you are already familiar.
Couple association with being aware using all of your senses and you will have a higher rate of successful recall.
Chunky like your mom
Chunking information is a great mnemonic method to remember multiple items. Many people naturally use chunking to remember phone numbers: Instead of thinking "17342876642" we chunk it as 1-734-287-6642.
The concept of chunking comes from a famous 1956 paper by George A. Miller: The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on our Capacity for Processing Information. If you are a sucker for classic works in the history of psychology (I know, who isn't?) you can read the whole original paper here.
Write it Down
We generally think of "writing things down" as a means to NOT have to remember something. The paper does the work for -- we just need to remember where we put that piece of paper...
But, writing things down has another effect: you clear your mind and take away the stress of "having to remember", and by doing so you actually have more room in your noggin for remembering stuff. I know that explanation wasn't scientific, but it works.
To-do lists are championed by business gurus and soccer moms alike. Try writing everything down for a week or two and see how much this improves your memory & focus. A great digital tool for "writing things down" is provided by a website called Nozbe.com -- I recommend it for clearing your head and also organizing your thoughts.
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