improve memory

3 Proven Ways to Keep Your Memory Sharp and Productive

Do you ever struggle to remember something you thought you knew?

When it comes to living the life you want, most of us underestimate the power of the brain and in particular, our memory.

Of course, on the simplest level, most of us want to look back on the wonderful happy times in our lives and remember them as fully as possible.

However, your memory is also an incredibly important tool in your quest to be more productive. It’s vital in helping you to learn the lessons that life has taught you, so that you can move forward more intelligently.

If you want to grow yourself, you need to grow your memory power.

To make sure that happens, here are three proven ways that you can apply today to keep your memory sharp and productive.

1) Break Your Routine

What have you done recently that was a break from the norm?

Most people’s lives are fairly predictable. Whether you work from home or commute, the pattern of your day or week rarely changes.

And it’s killing your memory power.

The brain thrives on variation and even just varying your journey to and from work can really help you.

The reason is, in order to do something different, your brain needs to make new connections that weren’t there before. More connections in your brain will allow you to process things in multiple ways, giving you a far better chance of your memories sticking around.

Here are some ideas to vary your life and increase your memory power:

  • Learn something new – Go to a salsa class, learn to paint, engage with a different culture… Anything that you haven’t done before will awaken your brain power.
  • Interact with people more often – Meet up with friends and actually talk to each other instead of just watching something passively. Speaking of which…
  • Read more, watch less – If you watch a lot of TV, stop it. Go and create something, or read something challenging (not just the latest Jackie Collins).

2) Supplementing Your Brain

PickTheBrain readers like you are smart cookies, so I’m guessing there’s not much need for me to emphasise how important it is to drink plenty of water and have a good diet.

Oh, and when I say ‘diet’, I mean what you eat normally and regularly, not the latest fad diet from some celebrity.

To have a good memory, you need to be getting three meals per day, consisting of some protein, plenty of vegetables (ideally organic) and a complex carbohydrate like wholegrain rice or pulses.

However, you can help your memory by adding to your (healthy) diet with supplements. This ensures you’re getting enough vitamins for your brain to remember things.

Here are the ones I make sure I get:

  • B Vitamin Complex – B vitamins are incredibly important for the health of your body and brain. Not getting enough of them can lead to memory loss, partially because your brain cells aren’t able to get rid of the toxins they produce as a by-product of taking on nutrients. But that’s just the start… Not getting enough vitamin B can also make you depressed and lead to an inability to pay attention.
  • Vitamin C – This is the big daddy when it comes to your brain. Vitamin C is responsible for the creation of neurotransmitters, which send signals to different parts of the brain. Without them, your brain wouldn’t function, so give them a boost with some vitamin C.
  • Vitamin E – Not only can it improve your skin, but vitamin E is key in protecting you from radicals, sometimes called ‘free radicals’. These radicals are a type of toxin that attack the fatty membrane of your cells. Obviously, your brain cells need protecting, and this vitamin is a great way to do it.

(Obviously, before taking any supplements, make sure you consult your medical professional, particularly if you happen to be pregnant.)

3) Exercising Your Memory

Like all your other organs, your brain needs exercise to keep it active and healthy.

Your memory functions are no different.

The strongest way to remember something is to make sure that you remember it in multiple ways.

For example, rather than just trying to learn a speech by rote, you can create images in your mind to remind you of key points you want to talk about.

You can then place these along a journey that is already familiar to you, like your journey to work or a friend’s place. This is known (unsurprisingly) as The Journey Method.

When it comes to giving the speech, you travel the journey in your mind, seeing each item in place to remind you to talk about something specific.

This means you’re now remembering using the three major tools that your brain uses to recall information: Imagination, Association and Location.

You could also exercise your memory by remembering shopping lists instead of writing them down, or just challenging yourself to remember a poem or a page of your favourite book each week.

So, over to you! What are your favourite techniques for improving your memory? Have you used the techniques I’ve mentioned? If you have any experiences you want to share, or any questions, let us know in the comments section below.

James Gladwell is the creator of the Smart Memory Power blog, helping you to improve your memory one post at a time. We regularly update the site with the latest memory power tips and memorization techniques.

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  • Irabor Mark

    That was a good one. However there are three conditions you must meet to have a good memory.
    1. Impression
    2. Repetition
    3. Association

    These are the conditions you must meet to have a good memory. http://madeforsuccess.blogspot.com

    • http://www.smartmemorypower.com/ James Gladwell

      When you say ‘impression’, do you mean the way you first encounter the information? If so then yes, you’re absolutely right. 

      The same is true of repetition, which is a key skill in mastering anything, and association, which helps connect your brain in more diverse ways.I wrote about this very topic here: http://www.smartmemorypower.com/ways-to-remember-things/ You might find it useful/interesting.

      Thanks for commenting.

    • Valleree Lim134

      Hi Irabor, coul dyou please further elaborate on “Impression” and “Association” conditions regarding developing a good memory? i dont get you .  

  • http://www.botanicawellness.com/ Botanica Wellness Sanctuary

    These are some great tips. I think it’s important to keep your memory in check! 

    • http://www.smartmemorypower.com/ James Gladwell

      Yes indeed, it’s vital. After all, if you don’t have the ability to remember and learn from your life, how can you really grow as a person?

  • suchismita pai

    Great tips all. Recently though, I was reading that physical exercise is as necessary to keep the brain in fine fettle. So we could add that to the list. May be the cliche about healthy mind in healthy body means exactly this.

    • http://www.smartmemorypower.com/ James Gladwell

      Thanks for your comments Suchismita. Yes, as I mentioned at the start of point three, it’s important to keep all your organs healthy, not just your brain.

      Your brain is only a part (albeit an important part) of your body’s ‘eco-system’, so if one thing is unbalanced, it has a major effect on other elements. The same is true of any other organ in your body.Also, exercise oxygenates your bloodstream, meaning that more oxygen gets to all the organs (brain included), which promotes greater health throughout the body.

  • http://www.sagegrayson.com/ Sage Grayson

    Nice post! I’m a visual person, and I often make an image in my mind of something I need to remember like a grocery list or where I left my keys. It’s easier for me to recall a picture later.

    • http://www.smartmemorypower.com/ James Gladwell

      Exactly right Sage.

      Here’s another tip for you to help you remember in a visual and corporeal way…

      When you have something important to remember, move something that would normally be in one place to another place. An example would be to wear your watch on the ‘wrong’ side for you. 
      A friend of mine would knock something off the table near the bed if he remembered something while in bed. When you see the thing on the floor, or your watch on the opposite wrist, it re-activates the neural pathway to the thing you want to remember.

      Thanks for commenting.

  • http://www.you-refined.com/ Giuliano

    Great article James.

    I cannot agree with your second point enough! Drinking appropriate levels of water and maintaining an overall healthy diet will not only make you look good on the outside, it can make serious improvements to how your body functions.

    All your points are helpful. However, I feel that if readers would at least incorporate number 2, they will experience good improvements to their memory.

    • http://www.smartmemorypower.com/ James Gladwell

      Thanks Giuliano!

      Absolutely, diet is still so underestimated, even by well-informed folks in the self-development niche.

      Plenty of water on a regular basis enables your body to flush out toxins while replenishing yourself at a cellular level. That combined with the right vitamins is a winning formula.
      Thanks for commenting.

      J

  • http://www.balanceddaily.com/the-importance-of-calcium-in-the-human-body/ Christine@BalancedDaily

    Insightful article!! However this piece of the article stood
    out to me:

    “To have a good memory, you need to be getting three meals
    per day, consisting of some protein, plenty of vegetables (ideally organic) and
    a complex carbohydrate like wholegrain rice or pulses”.

    I really learned something new. I had no idea that eating 3
    meals a day had a lot to do with good memory. Sometimes I am so busy I don’t
    even eat 3x times a day. I need to sit back and actually make more time to get my 3
    meals in a day!!

    • http://www.smartmemorypower.com/ James Gladwell

      Hey Christine,

      Yes, absolutely. People think that memory is somehow a separate thing from the rest of the brain, like it’s just one compartment. In fact, your memories are formed throughout several areas of the brain.

      As a result you have to nurture and look after your brain, just as you would look after the rest of your body. Without a healthy and balanced diet, your whole body can start to deteriorate (brain included) as it’s having to work on fewer vitamins and minerals than it needs.
      So, yes, make sure you get three balanced meals per day (and make sure you don’t have too much sugar or additives that can overstimulate the brain).

      Thanks for commenting.

      J

  • CrochetBlogger

    I did a lot of research into memory / age-related memory loss and prevention for my book, Crochet Saved My Life. Definitely found these same things you’ve suggested. Found that crochet and crafting in general offers the opportunity to both change routine and exercise memory in different ways by people who actively choose to use it that way. There is some hope that this could be an option for dementia-prevention although the research is all still very young.

    • http://www.smartmemorypower.com/ James Gladwell

      I’m not sure about dementia prevention, but it could certainly slow the deterioration of the brain. The reason is because you’re stimulating the brain in a new/different way.

      You’re also activating physical elements related to coordination which help keep the neural pathways active.
      The more active and naturally stimulated your brain is, the better chance you have of remembering things.Thanks for your comment.

  • Irabor Mark

    Great post
    Ideas Are More Powerful Than Brains That Produce Them
    Ideas are simply thoughts, plan or mental impressions on our mind. However, they are more powerful than we may understand. Ideas are more powerful than the brains that produce them because they usually outlive those brains. The day an idea is introduced into your mind, creation begins.
    http://madeforsuccess.blogspot.com
     

  • Gakuhaedwin

    hey thanks for that .I guess I now know what to do.