Imagine a world without memory.
If you think deep enough, you’ll reach to the conclusion that a world without memory, human civilization would disappear and exist as independent creatures searching for food and shelter, nothing else.
Fortunately that’s not the case for us, memory is an extremely important part of our lives, we need this mechanism to function and process daily tasks. The belief most people have is “I think I’m just one of those people born with poor memory and I can’t do anything about it.”
Stop that belief.
There’s no such thing as naturally poor memory. Memory is a skill just like any other skills, soccer, basketball, writing… the simple truth is, the more you practice it the better it gets.
7 Keys To Improve Your Memory
1. Understanding vs. Forced Memorization
Memorization takes place in two different methods.
The first and most common method is through pure force; regardless of what that something is, the more you repeat it in your mind the more you become familiar with it, therefore, you remember it. However, this kind of forced memorization is a waste of time because you’re remembering it as “that thing” not as content you could reconstruct with the help of other mental mediums such as numbers, pictures and sounds.
The second method which is also the most effective method is through understanding the information. This is advice you probably heard from Maths classes; in order to remember formulas and theorems, the professors say it’s easy as long as you know how they work and how they were originally derived. Thus, by understanding what you have to remember actually helps you remember better.
2. The Grouping Trick
Unless you’re a genius, scientists have revealed that a typical you or me cannot store more than five items with our short term memory, and this memory lasts an average of 20 seconds.
Assume we can remember five items at one period of time. Let’s say 4, 7, 8, 2, and 8. Can you close your eyes and repeat the same sequence? I’ll bet a yes. But realistically, remembering five simple numbers just isn’t enough for our daily life, think about phone numbers.
There’s a grouping trick that allows you to increase the “mass” of each item, for example rather than remembering something item-by-item, group few items together and remember them group-by-group like 123-456-789, not 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9.
3. Realistic Training
Many people believe training memory is an extremely difficult and complicated task. Or maybe we are too lazy and therefore rely on devices such as notepads?
The difference between good memory and mediocre memory is whether you take the initiative to use your brain, rather than to rely on external devices. Notepads don’t “help” you; they are mere relief for individual laziness.
4. Using the Whole Brain
Neuroscience reveals that the left human brain is more logical whereas the right brain is more creative. Of course, brains cannot be described with one-word descriptions for more click here to check if you’re left-brained or right-brained.
The secret message here is to use the whole brain. How? Use abilities from both sides of the brain and combine them when trying to memorize a certain item, such as associating numbers (left brained) with pictures and colors (right brained).
5. Improve Overall Functioning
The human brain is magnificent. The brain isn’t just capable of memorization; it is also capable of doing other magical things.
The point is memory is just one tiny part of what your brain can do, thus, by exercising other sections of your brain can help improve the conditioning of your brain’s overall ability to have better memory. Ideas include doing something that challenges both sides of the brain: concentration, jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, Scrabble…etc.
6. Memory Warm-Up
Memory as mentioned before is a skill. Warming up your memory abilities before tackling your actual task sets you into the right mode, speeds you up and improves performance. Just like any sport, you must perform simple warm-up exercises before getting into the actual event.
7. Before-sleep Rehearsal
Here’s a little personal tip. Before you head off to sleep, find 5-10 minutes and go through what you aim to remember once more, this is a very effective way to reinforce memory for further use.
Three Factors Why You May Not Be At Maximum
- Nutrition; You are what you eat. Maintaining a healthy diet is a sure-fire way to maximize your brain’s performance. For a little extra, eating brain-targeted foods will help you memorize even better such as fish, green tea, Omega-3, wine…etc.
- Sleep; Sleeping is a daily mandatory process for us to recover energy used during the day. An adult needs an average of 6-9 hours of sleep per night, do you fulfil this criterion?
- Emotional distraction; Being under negative emotions can hinder your ability to focus on specific tasks, in our case, to fully memorize certain items. Thus, avoid emotions such as stress, depression, anxiety…etc.
Practical action is key – “do” not just “know”; a simple truth is that the more consistent you are with your efforts the better results you get.
Think of memory as a muscle, controllable and trainable through practice.
Don’t forget to “do”!
I’m Harrison Li. On my weekly updated blog you’ll get posts on life improvement, psychology, problem-solving, productivity, relationships… and much more. Check out Mind Fuels.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.