Top 15 Ways to Improve Your Memory
Youíre running late to the company dinner thatís been on your mind for weeks now, youíve misplaced your wallet again and your pet is giving
you that heart wrenching stare that can only mean that youíve forgotten to feed
him, again. If this in any way sounds familiar to you, then donít fret! Take a
deep breath and get rid of those dark thoughts of some of the most common early signs of aging.
Forgetting things happens, but you can make sure it doesnít happen quite as
frequently by trying some of the following suggestions.
On an additional note, even though many of these points seem to be geared
toward students, they can be applied by everyone as proven strategies for
improving brain function. There is no way of enhancing
your memory power without learning or studying, even if your schooldays are long
15) Broaden Your Horizons
Itís incredibly easy to fall into a pit of intellectual idleness, especially
when youíre done with your schooling. It looks like when you have your degree,
thereís no need for textbooks or studying anymore. But your brain is very similar to a
muscle in that it needs regular training to keep its strength. The exact biological
procedure of how your brain creates new pathways is an entire research field in
itself is called neuroplasticity. Summed up and put in less scientific terms,
your brain is constantly subject to change based on the way it connects informational centers.
Think about something that youíve learned a long time ago. You know youíve
learned and applied it, but if you never had a reason to recall said
information. Therefore, the neural pathways that connect to this piece of information are
Like the name suggests, your neural pathways need to be
frequently used lest they become withered and hard to navigate over time. In
addition to creating entirely new pathways and strengthening old pathways, a new
piece of information that gets stored into your long-term memory might be
relevant to some old information - so a pathway is created to connect them.
Challenging yourself to learn new things will create more and more of these
interconnected pathways, making it easier for you to remember something new that
is possibly associated to something youíve already learned.
14) Donít Overexert Yourself
The biggest mistake every student makes during their educational career is to
ignore all thoughts of studying until their calendar lets them know that there
are only three days left before an important test. This carefree behavior
results in those cramped, panicked, and stressed study sessions that every
experienced at least once while in school. Most likely students have experienced
it several times, because
that is just one of those lessons everybody seems to have a problem learning. However, your brain is
not made to process huge amounts of information in such a short amount of time
while still retaining it after the test. As stated in the previous point,
building neural pathways takes time.
Your brain filters any information you feed it without consulting you, so you
don't become overwhelmed by the amount of information you face on a daily basis
without even consciously acknowledging it. If you study 10 pages of information
and are having a good day, you might still only retain 75 percent of that
information. Accordingly, if you study a hundred pages of information, that
leaves a far bigger gap than the two and a half pages from before. Just like
everything else, your brain needs time to recover and process the information.
You canít run a marathon after youíve slaved through hours of training without
taking a rest in-between. So when youíre studying or trying to remember larger
amounts of information, give yourself regular time-outs in the form of naps or other
13) Stay Focused
Another bad habit from student days would be multitasking. Even though some
may state that multitasking is a sign of genius, it really isnít. To pick up the
previous example of studying 10 pages and retaining only seven and a half in
content, if you give your brain more information it needs to process, be it
music, television, or tonightís dinner, youíre reducing what youíll remember
This is why your teachers insisted that you stop doodling in
class... besides feeling disrespected by your lack of attention to their
lectures, that is.
12) Repeat Information
Youíve certainly heard someone say that they could recall or do something in
their sleep. This statement is in fact not as exaggerated as it may appear when
you first hear it. Various martial arts techniques are based on repeating an
action until it becomes a reflex by making use of the concept of muscle memory.
Just like your body can remember actions so that it seems like it doesnít even consult your brain before it acts, your
brain can remember facts so well that you donít need to consciously think about
them. Many athletes make use of muscle memory by training to do the same
physical movements over and over again until they can perform these activities
under pressure and in the moment with very little mental energy expelled. These
activities could be a golf or baseball swing, and even the movements involved in
doing workouts like pushups.
The best example is when you learned how to count and read. If you recall
how long it took you to get through a childrenís book back then and compare it
to how you can work through a thick novel today, youíll see how translating the
information of single letters into a single word has become second nature to
you. That is why people with dyslexia are encouraged to practice their
abilities. Itís all based on your neural pathways. The more regular use they
experience, the easier it is to go from consciously recalling something to
11) Map Your Mind
Take the cue from fictional mastermind Sherlock Holmes and his so-called mind
palace. Actually, the writers of the BBC series werenít the first to come up
with this technique and neither was the author of the Hannibal book series. The
idea behind this memory device is much, much older. Dating back to ancient Rome
and Greece, the Method of Loci places information in visualized physical places.
Although it isnít as fanciful as shown on TV, sorting everything you know into
categories and locations can make your mind feel better organized.
memorization world championships prove that the Method of Loci is immensely
effective if practiced correctly. Almost all winners use it in some shape or
form. Simply put, the Method of Loci teaches that if you can mentally attach
your knowledge to a certain item or place, it is easier to recall the original
information. The more details are added to your placement, the easier it is to
associate the original information with it.
10) The Power of Socialization
Studying and learning how to memorize things better donít have to be bleak
and lonely tasks and they certainly shouldnít take up your entire life. A lot in
life is still mainly learned by talking and associating with other people and a
positive side-effect is that you will soon enjoy it. Challenge yourself and others to
discuss controversial or difficult topics. That way, youíre forcing yourself to
think about what you are saying and what others are telling you, boosting your
ability to process information. Social situations are also not as predictable
as, say, a book. You can have expectations and prepare some things you would
like to say, but itís quite possible that the conversation will develop in an
entirely different direction.
It is also wise to see if you have a friend with whom you can
banter playfully without worrying about accidentally offending each other. Itís
great fun, and you might not have to worry about witty comebacks in the future.
Just like jokes, you have to process the information given to understand what is
actually being said and practicing this strengthens that ability.
9) Say It in Your Own Words
Just like repeating information ad nauseam, giving it your own dressing makes
memorizing much easier. You are an individual person, so even if your textbook
offers you a single rule to remember, you might have trouble with it. But if you
grasp what the rule means and put it in your own words, youíll find itís much
easier to remember. The essence of this point is that itís no use to remember
formulas and laws without understanding how they work and why they are applied.
Ideally, you can test how well youíve remembered something by trying to explain
it to someone who doesnít understand. By not only describing the information in
detail, but also simplifying it, youíre retaining the information in the same
simplified manner. When you realize that youíve hit a point where you really
donít know how to explain it any further, you also know what you need to freshen
8) Stop with the Routines
As previously elaborately stated in point 15, being idle is the death of your
memory. Routines, due to their comfortable and reflexive nature, are a form of
idleness. You donít have to constantly confront yourself with new things to do,
even if it is exciting. It can get pretty exhausting, not to mention that youíll
be running out of ideas pretty soon. Instead, change little, simple things in
your life. If you habitually brush your teeth with your right hand and your
right hand only, switch it around. You know itís an effective challenge if your
reaction to this suggestion was declaring it difficult. Yes, itís difficult, but
not impossible, and itís giving your brain the exact work it needs to thrive.
You donít have to start doing everything with your opposing hand though. There
are far more creative ways of changing things to offer yourself a small
challenge. Take the opportunity to rearrange your furniture. Youíll be surprised
how used you are to the old layout when you find yourself blindly heading for a
cupboard, only to find it at the other end of the room. Observe yourself
throughout a normal day. Observe what things you do out of habit and see what
you can change about them. Thinking about this alone is training for your brain.
7) Know Your Learning Type
This may not be the first time youíve heard of different learning types or
styles. You might have also already observed that youíre prone to remember
things better depending on how theyíre presented to you. Learning Styles Online
categorizes seven different styles to which you could be partial. It doesnít
exclude the possibility that you prefer a mix or have a dominant type, while
still learning just as effectively with one of your subdominant styles. The
styles are firstly categorized into social and solitary. Just like there are
extroverts and introverts, some learn better in a social setting when they can
discuss the learning material with others, while others prefer being alone with
their thoughts. From here, five further categories branch off: visual, auditory,
linguistic, physical and logical.
People who prefer a visual style are quicker to learn things presented to
them as images or reality. They also tend to be very descriptive in their speech
patterns, like theyíre trying to repaint what theyíre explaining from the image
their mind presents. Auditory learning types are more musically and sound
inclined. People of this type are also often good at learning languages. The
verbal learning style is based off speech and writing, focusing mainly on words.
Optimally, study strategies for verbal learning types include verbal or written
repetition. As the name suggests, physical learning types enjoy learning through
experience and touch. Physical types tend to be active and some show speech
patterns that include how things are felt. The final learning type, the logical,
is well-structured. They prefer systems and reasoning, so they might learn
better when they are confronted with a problem and asked to solve it by
If youíre not sure what your type is based off these descriptions, you can
use online tests to help you along. Once youíve found your style, try and adapt
to it by memorizing things accordingly.
6) Remember by Association
With the Internet making information so easily and readily accessible, itís
impossible to avoid pages that spout little known facts or pieces of information
you donít need, but still remember because they either sound incredibly absurd
or funny. The reason why your brain decides to keep this knowledge rather than
how to calculate a loan increase of three percent is that thereís more
information associated with the former - specifically, emotional information.
Youíre likely to remember your own wedding better than the wedding of someone
else, simply because youíre more emotionally attached. This works for positive
and negative emotions. But before you start studying while base jumping, there
are other ways of associating information.
Like the aforementioned Method of
Loci, there are other so-called mnemonic devices and techniques that make
memorization easier. The most children learn their ABCís through a song, and if
youíre one of them, you can recall that song till this day. Rhymes, poems, and
phrases can also make remembering things easier for you. For example, if you
have trouble putting the planets (including poor excommunicated Pluto) in the
right order, try using this mnemonic phrase: ďMy Very Educated Mother Just
Served Us Nine Pizzas.Ē The first letter of each word is the same letter as each
planet: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.
Itís pretty much foolproof.
5) Keep a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet seems to be the answer to everything, but you certainly canít
fault it for being such. Food is energy, but it also contains other things
ranging from healthy to okay in small amounts, right down to absolutely
unhealthy. Even though it would be optimal for you to consult a dietician to
food plan that caters to your bodyís exact needs, there are some
general and not-so-general knowledge food facts that work for pretty much
everyone. Most importantly, if youíre trying to lose weight as well as enhancing
your mental capacities, donít starve yourself. Contrary to popular belief, your
body does know what it needs; itís only a question of listening to and
understanding its demands. Steering clear completely of fats and oils is also a
Even though it sounds like faulty logic to give your body fat
when youíre trying to lose it, there are healthy fats and one of them is myelin.
In conjunction with increasing your memory, myelin is a fat your brain needs to
build and expand neural pathways. Denying your body this will hinder the growth
of your mental capacities. Thatís why newer diet trends donít advise you to
avoid fatty fish and nuts, as they contain the base ingredient needed to build
myelin Ė omega-3 oils. Most importantly, keep yourself hydrated. Avoid drinking
too much coffee, as large amounts tend to make you jittery and nervous, making
steady concentration near impossible to hold up. The best healthy fluids for
your body and mind are unflavored water, unsweetened teas, and, in small
amounts, juices without additional sugar.
A fun fact about
brain boosting foods: in Germany, university cafeterias and
supermarkets sell assorted nut and raisin mixes, calling them "student food,"
not only because the contents make a wonderful snack to tide over long study
sessions, but because nuts contain natural healthy fats like the aforementioned
omega-3 oils and more. Thereís a good reason why a walnut looks like a brain,
4) Regular Exercise
You just canít escape exercise, no matter how much youíd rather sit down and
enjoy a nice long evening of watching movies after doing hard work. Besides the
obvious health benefits, exercise lowers the risk of memory damaging diseases
like diabetes. Additionally, youíre increasing your bodyís blood flow and with
it, oxygen transport. As you may know, oxygen is vital to keeping your brain
active and fit. If it doesnít receive enough, youíll feel tired and have a hard
time concentrating and processing information.
Cardio exercises are especially
beneficiary to giving your grey matter the oxygen it needs as they initiate deep
and heavy breathing.
Another positive side-effect exercise can have on your
brain is stimulating the production of happiness hormones, making you less
susceptible to mental illnesses such as depression, which can kill the
motivation to try any of the other suggestions in this list. Your brain might
also appreciate the different types of exercises available, like team sports
that confront you with a wide variety of different situations you can react to
while keeping certain strategies in mind. If youíre really not the sporty type,
you could also try yoga. Itís less hectic, but can be just as physically
effective as any other sport. The great advantage of yoga is that itís centered
on correct breathing and increasing the blood flow to various body parts and
organs, including your brain.
Itís no use to try and remember something when youíre feeling stressed and
have thousands of other things running through your mind.
Meditation is meant to
bring a semblance of peace and balance to your life and if practiced daily and
can make you feel calmer and less prone to stress. There are various meditation
techniques, the most effective for improving your
memory is the mindfulness meditation. The most important aspect of this
technique is the focus on a single thought, image, object, or feeling. It sounds
immensely difficult to keep your focus on one thing for a longer period of time,
but you can try out different foci to see what suits you best.
One very pleasant variant is focusing on what you can taste. Take a piece of
chocolate and focus all your attention on it by taking the time to listen to the
sound it makes when you break it into bite size, feel its texture and how it
melts between your fingers, smell it and notice how your body reacts to that
alone. Donít rush any of these steps to get to the best one. When you finally
reach the tasting step, experience all the sensations again just by using your
entire oral organ. If you practice the mindfulness meditation regularly, you
wonít only appreciate the things you do enjoy more, but will be able to keep
focus for longer and longer periods of time.
2) Time Out
Itís been previously mentioned how your brain already filters the informational
uptake. Still, at some point during the day youíll reach your limit and sadly,
that rarely is right before you want to sleep. Especially if youíve had a long
day, but are still planning on memorizing something, taking a time out in form
of a short nap can benefit you greatly. 20 to 30 minute naps can help you regain your focus and
increase your performance. If you really canít avoid a long, intense study
session despite the previous advice, add some naps to your schedule. You donít
even have to necessarily fall asleep to acquire some rest, because youíre taking
a break from your topic of studies, youíre giving your brain some time to work
with what youíve learned thus far.
If youíve been wondering about the little of mention of coffee or any other
liquids and foods that contain caffeine so far, itís because caffeine takes
roughly 10 to 20 minutes to start working after ingestion, as you can confirm if
youíre one of those morning zombies. Coincidentally, that is the optimal length
for a rejuvenating nap. You might also be familiar with the slight drowsiness
some people have directly after drinking coffee. This is another perfect
opportunity to combine it with a nap. When youíre taking your break, drink a cup
of coffee and nap for twenty minutes. Youíll wake up not only feeling
rejuvenated, but also far more energized.
1) Stay Healthy Ė Physically and Mentally
The sum of all previous points is simple: be healthy. The state your body is
in and what itís capable of reflects on your mental capacity and that works the
other way around too. When youíve caught the flu, the last thing your brain
could be bothered with is learning the exact value of pi right down to 10
decimal points. Accordingly, when youíre depressed and your mind is occupied
with dark thoughts, youíre too distracted to give your full attention to what
youíre trying to learn.
While the topic of this compilation is not meant to
address your options when youíre battling illness of any kind, you can take
precautions to not easily fall prey to mental or physical illness. Of course,
everything is far easier said than done. In the long run, not only your
memorization will improve, but your quality of life in general will be better.
Final Memorable Thoughts
You donít have to do each and every one of these suggestions daily. Just like
listening to a lecture might not work for your friend but it may work wonders for you,
everyone develops their own individual style that suits their current phase in
life. Try them all over a certain timeframe and see what youíre comfortable
with. Maybe meditation isnít for you because you have trouble sitting still and
prefer regularly finding something new to learn and experience. Whatever your
choices, pick those which help you reach your full potential without running
yourself ragged by placing too high expectations in yourself. We wish you the
very best of health, and all of luck while on your quest to improve your memory.
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