Intro: HUMANS NATURALLY STRIVE TO DO BETTER. WE ALL WANT TO BE THE BEST POSSIBLE VERSIONS OF OURSELVES. GETTING THERE JUST REQUIRES A LITTLE WORK. IF YOU WANT TO BE A BETTER STUDENT, EMPLOYEE, MOTHER, DAUGHTER OR SIGNIFICANT OTHER YOU CAN BE, AND HOPEFULLY I CAN HELP. WHILE I’M NO EXPERT, I AM PRETTY GOOD AT FINDING PEOPLE WHO ARE EXPERTS AND GETTING THEIR ADVICE. THAT’S WHAT I HOPE TO DO OVER THE NEXT NINE WEEKS, WITH A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS ALL ON THE SUBJECT OF “HOW TO BE BETTER.”
The brain is capable of storing an unlimited amount of information, the problem is being able to access it. There are three core processes involved in memory, encoding, storage and recall. Encoding is when the brain first consciously registers the memory. Next, that memory gets stored within one of two distinct categories, short or long term. Recall refers to the mental process of retrieving that stored information. In order to have a strong memory all three of these processes must be able to work together, without disruption. Fortunately, when it comes to basic memorization, like names, dates or notes before an exam, there are ways to make it easier.
1. Visualize whatever it is you need to remember
We naturally remember visual cues better than words. It’s also a lot easier to memorize when more than one sense is involved in the learning or storing of something. Say you need to remember to submit a paper to your professor by midnight. Commit the task to memory by visualizingyour assignment—a stack of papers—on top of an alarm clock that reads “12 a.m.” The trick here is to make the picture vivid. So visualize an alarm clock, time flashing, alarm blaring, and focus on it. 12 a.m. … paper … got it.
2. Repeat, repeat, repeat
When someone introduces themselves to you, say their name back to them. Then say it again at different point in the conversation, and then again. Three is the magic number. If you’ve said their name out loud three times, you’re not likely to forget it.
3. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep
Nothing slows down your brain like exhaustion. It may seem like a smart idea to stay up all night before a test reviewing the material, but it’s not. Memory loss is a an almost guaranteed symptom of sleep deprivation.
4. Take your time
No matter how much you want it to, cramming does not work. Quickly stuffing facts into our brains leads us to forget them in the long term. But when you practice and repeat often it sticks. If you can incorporate what you’re trying to remember into daily life, ideally over time, your chances of retaining it drastically improve.