10 Tips to Improve Your Memory

memory May 24, 2018
 

Read to the bottom to test out your skills

1. Prime yourself

When something sparks your interest your attention generally increases along with your memory. Use this natural process to boost your ability remember. Try asking yourself a simple question, “What is interesting about X?” and expect to get an answer. Use this to help remembering names, books or even dance steps!

2. Get into the moment

Ever had the sense that when someone is talking to you they are not quite ‘there’, or perhaps you have found yourself drifting when someone is in a meaningful conversation. Having the ability to become present, not thinking about that past or future and in the ‘here and now’ is a powerful strategy to increase your memory. Practice focusing on a single object and studying it in every detail, feeling completely present, gently pushing any thoughts of the day ahead aside. Try re-creating this feeling during day to day conversations.

3. Listen on Many Levels

As well as being present, having the ability to listen on many different levels is a great way to improve your memory and has the added benefit of helping you gain insights you may have otherwise missed. In one of your next conversations try listening on 3 different levels, the facts a person is saying, the feelings you think they are conveying and the intentions or subtext that you believe to be underneath. Notice any imagery, emotion or feelings that come to mind.

4. Use the learning cycle

There are 4 simple parts to learning:

  • Have an experience
  • Reflect on what it means to you
  • Question and abstract your own thoughts
  • Test it out and get feedback

When you are faced with information that you don’t quite understand, check to see if you are ‘missing’ part of this learning cycle. Usually if it doesn’t make sense you have to reflect and question. One of the simplest and most effective questions to ask are, “What does this mean to me?”, “What does this remind me of?”, “What do I have to do in order for this to make sense to me?”. Asking these types of questions with the 'expectation’ that you will receive an answer, will send your brain into search mode, looking for connections. While it may not always come back with the right answer first time, keep on asking and eventually you will have one of those 'light bulb moments’.

5. Mix your learning styles

While most people will have a preference for learning either by watching, listening or doing, being able to mix your styles can make for a more rounded memorable experience. Try drawing pictures when listening to a presentation, talk things through with a friend to check your understanding or challenge yourself to volunteer for an activity first.

6. Share what you learn!

Next time you read an article or a book, tell someone else about it, share your memories and thoughts. If you are learning a new skillset (sports, dance, language or career focused)  after a session teach a friend what you have learned. Sharing in this way consolidates your learning and offers immediate feedback on where the gaps are so you can continue to grow and improve.

7. Creative Memorization

Creative memorization comes from the idea that to truly learn you have to create and not just repeat, try this simple recipe:

  • Be present (Tip 2)
  • Engage your imagination
  • Make connections
  • Create meaning through questioning (Tip 4)

To remember that Karova is Russian for Cow for example - Imagine a Cow driving a Car Over hills in Russia (Car Over sounds like Karova and therefore acts as a trigger image), now give this image more meaning, ask yourself “why is the Cow driving this Car Over hills in Russia?” Perhaps the cow is on the run, this question brings emotion into play!

8. Utilize the Five Key steps for Remembering Names

  • Ask: What makes them interesting? (yep, this is priming again)
  • Be present and listen (notice something familiar?)
  • Create an image for their name
  • make a connection
  • Use their name in conversation

Put it all together: You meet Alice, imagine she is in wonderland and perhaps she likes tea, rather than being hard to remember it becomes hard to forget.

9. Chain it together

Our brains naturally love to associate, by connecting words, tasks, ideas together into a story chain they immediately become more memorable. Try out this technique with your ‘things to do’ list. Let’s say today you are:

  • Meeting a friend for coffee
  • Booking onto a new pilates class
  • Buying a magazine
  • Calling to make an appointment

Simply imagine sitting in the coffee shop with your friend who is doing Pilates on the table and reading a magazine, she hands you her mobile to book an appointment, this scene is somewhat unreal and therefore stands out and is easy to remember.

10. File it away, imagine this…

…a slab of prime beef on your feet, a present stuck between your knees, mickey mouse ears on your thighs, a bicycle on your behind, a stylish belt around your waist, a shared piece of cake on your chest, a crate on your neck, your name written on your face, lots of chains on your hair and a filing cabinet on the ceiling.

Each one of the words in bold represents one of these tips. Read it twice more imagining each one in vivid detail. Test your knowledge by sharing these tips with someone else!

 
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