Are you the type who always forgets stuff? Can you remember the chemical formulas ontaining 1-methylethylidene? How about the date when you first had sex? Of course not. That’s because memory is selective; we usually remember certain things more easily because they’re important to us. But we all have the potential to remember anything we want; it’s just a matter of exercising the brain adequately. Read on to learn how you can improve your memory.
Instead of launching into a psychological dissertation on the intricacies of short-term memory and long-term memory, let’s just agree that certain important things slip our minds.
For example, everyone — except maybe your chemistry teacher — will forgive you for not remembering the composition of certain chemical formulas. However, you could get into a heap of trouble for forgetting your girlfriend’s name, especially when snuggling in bed. Here are a few things you should make an effort to remember:
- Phone numbers
- The truth (or lies)
For the most part, not recalling these things is a matter of not paying enough attention. As my girlfriend always says, “If you really cared, you wouldn’t forget.” Put some effort into it next time and see how much more you can remember. Also, determine whether you have an audio memory or a visual memory. Once you resolve this question, you’ll be in a better position to learn how to improve it.
Here are some concrete tips you can follow to develop your ability to remember pertinent information.
This applies to everything, whether you’re listening, thinking or reading. Make an effort to take notes or acknowledge that you’ve heard what the other person has told you. When we’re passive, our minds drift away. If you work hard at being active, your brain will register what is being said and you’ll remember it more easily.
Start paying attention to detail. We hear an overwhelming quantity of information each day, but we only remember what is important to us. Broaden what you deem significant and you will remember more. A good trick is to imagine that everything is vital. Pretend you’re a crime scene investigator or a secret agent and that every aspect of what’s going on around you is vital to national security.
Establish links between what you’re trying to recollect and things you already know. It can be a color, a number or a rhyme. To remember a list of things, picture images that rhyme with numbers. For example, one rhymes with sun; visually associate sun with the first item of your list. Then, do the same with two, which rhymes with clue, etc. You can also use acronyms and combinations of names — or make sentences using the first letter of every word — as mnemonic tools.
What was your schoolteacher’s favorite punitive method? Whenever someone was disorderly, she’d make them copy whatever they weren’t supposed to do over and over again on the blackboard. Repetition helps us remember; it forcefully imprints an idea in our minds. Each time you meet someone, repeat their name right away. When someone gives you their phone number, write it down and repeat it out loud. Also, when there’s something you really want to remember, don’t be afraid to write it down several times on a piece of paper.
Make rhymes, draw a map and change your lifestyle
There are few things as nerve-racking as meeting someone you already know but forgetting their name. You can resolve the situation by associating them to someone they look like or to a word linked to one of their character traits. Play with their name (Big Bad Billy, Kooky Kathy) and have a visual image of them in your mind.
Make a concept map
Make a visual painting of what you’re trying to remember. Structure a topic in your mind so that you can see everything clearly. Then, when there’s something you’re forgetting, visualize this shape and your brain will allow you to recover the data. In addition, ensure that you comprehend the nitty-gritty of a topic before trying to commit it to memory-interconnected specifics.
The following tips will ensure that your memory is sharper than ever.
Enjoy the information
We always remember the things in which we are interested. If you despise mathematics, you’ll have a very hard time remembering complicated theorems. But if you read up on the topic and discover the plight of the scientists who developed them, you will be directly involved and remembering them will be almost effortless. The same goes for everything. There’s a reason why the phone number of your favorite pizza place is easier to recall than that of your dentist’s office.
Take your time
Memory isn’t instantaneous; you have to give yourself enough time to absorb information. Some things can be remembered more quickly than others, of course, but don’t berate yourself for not being fast enough. When you are trying to remember something, keep your energy level high and concentrate effectively.
Pressure works for some people, but most of us function better when we’re not afflicted with anxiety. Take deep breaths; tell yourself that you have all the time in the world and that not remembering something is fine. Relaxing will serve to enhance your awareness and your ability to remember.
There’s no way anyone can remember everything in life. You must be choosy; select what you want to commit to memory and allow your mind to forget the rest. Your brain is like a file cabinet, so throw away what you don’t need and make room for the important stuff.
Keep your mind active
Apathy may be fine on a Sunday morning, but it shouldn’t be a way of life. The more you keep your psyche dynamic, the better it will operate. This is even more important as you get older. Do crossword puzzles, learn a new word every day and read constantly. Be relentless in exercising your wits.
Care for your health
The brain is intimately linked to the body. Exercise every day, vie for first-class blood flow and stimulate your lungs. Eat properly to give your system the right nutrients and vitamins. Heavy use of alcohol and drugs can deteriorate your memory. Furthermore, consuming ginkgo biloba, lecithin and phosphatidylserine can improve your memory.
In essence, all these tips are about focusing and paying attention to things. Care about what you want to remember and put some genuine effort into it. The more you practice your newfound skills and keep your mind active, the more your memory will improve.
It’s worth doing since everyone thinks highly of people with good memories. It could seriously help you at work and in your personal life.