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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Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. 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.

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