At a glance
1. Attention for retention
Properly encoding a new memory requires focusing on the information you are receiving. Minimise distractions and be present when trying to absorb important facts. Avoid multi-tasking, because it scatters your concentration.
2. Incentivise yourself
We remember things better if we have a good reason. Visualise the advantages of remembering whatever you are trying to memorise – a name, a date, a phone number, a password. Give yourself a reason to invest the mental effort, and your recall will improve.
3. Create strong associations
We recall information better when we give it emotional and sensory meaning, such as images, sounds and smells. For example, to remember “HTC70”, think of your uncle who “has two cats” and is 70 years old.
4. Use patterns and repetition
Our brain naturally looks for and remembers patterns. Help it by “chunking” – organising the things you are trying to remember into categories (industry, location, hair colour, letter of first name). Then, repeat, write things down and say them out loud. Using acronyms and creating rhymes can also help.
5. Harness your imagination
Storytelling – creating a story around facts you wish to memorise – creates dramatic engagement and helps boost recall. The more visceral, sensory-rich and emotionally binding the narrative, the better it will stay with us.
6. Tame your tech
There are many tech tools to help us remember, but relying on them instead of our brains isn’t always a good idea. To prevent cognitive decline and short-term memory loss, keep your brain fit with mental challenges – navigating without a map, learning a new language, mastering a musical instrument or playing a game that requires mind body coordination.
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