10 Ways To Better Your Memory
It’s not always easy to remember every name, face, number, or important piece of information. Memorizing, especially for students, may seem like a dull a task and this idea makes accomplishing it all the more difficult. But there are ways to make it more interesting and easier to do. For others, it can get so frustrating when you can’t remember a name or a word but you feel it on the tip of your tongue. It can also be embarrassing when you bump into someone and you completely forgot his name. When you go out at night and you meet somebody interesting, memorizing that person’s phone number when you don’t have a pen with you and while you’re already on your third drink may seem impossible to do. But with these tips, it shouldn’t be too much of a headache anymore.
Look for patterns
This is especially helpful when you need to remember a large number or a long phrase. For example, the following sequence of numbers may seem random but actually follows a pattern: 3810151722242931363843. The pattern is adding 5 to the first number, then adding 2, and the pattern simply repeats. Once you figure this out, all you need to remember is the first number. You can use a similar pattern to create a numeric password that you can regularly change. You can also picture your fingers keying in the numbers on a numerical keyboard to help you remember.
This is also very effective when you need to memorize numbers. You break down the long sequence into smaller portions which you then associate with a word. Given this sequence, 74736052007365, you can break this up into the following:
- 747 is a jumbo jet
- 360 is an XBox
- 52 is a deck of cards
- 007 is James Bond
- 365 are the days of the year
You can also try making an image that incorporates these odd items, it’ll take some creativity but it works.
Alphabetize your lists
Putting your list in alphabetical order, especially a very long list, will help you remember all the items on it. The best example is memorizing all the 50 states of the USA. Using the alphabet as your guide, start with the letter A and memorize all the states that begin with it. Go through the alphabet until you’ve named all the states.
Categorize the items on your list
With big lists, find similarities and put them in groups. With your shopping list, for example, you can divide your list into: fruits, dried goods, dairy, bathroom products. It would also help to put the groups in your list in the order that they are found in the supermarket.
We don’t notice it, but we use this strategy everyday, especially when remembering phone numbers. We usually divide a telephone number into two chunks, the first 3 digits (area code) and the last 4. Chunking is the most effective way of remembering random numbers and very long sequences like pi to n digits.
You can use this trick to remember a name. To remember Patty Smith, you can imagine a meat patty. Rudolf West can be the famous reindeer wearing a cowboy hat. Just use your imagination. Another way to remember people and their names is to associate them with somebody else you know. You can picture them laughing together or shaking hands.
Assign a place
This is actually an ancient practice to help remember things, called Loci. You place the objects you need to remember in specific locations of your house, for example. If you have a list of people you need to call, place each one of them in different rooms in your house. To remember the list, move through the rooms in your house and see who you put there. If you have more items on your list than rooms in your house, simply add rooms too.
Make up a story
This is not only very helpful but fun to do too. Simply make up a story that includes all the things that you need to remember. The more ridiculous the story is, the more effective it’s going to be.
A mnemonic is a short rhyme or phrase that you can use as a key to make information easier to memorize. When you were a kid, for example, you memorized the colors of the rainbow by remembering the odd word “ROGBIV.” Another example is differentiating between desert and dessert; you were taught to remember that the sweet one has two sugars.
Use your senses
You can try remembering a word or a phrase using your senses. To remind yourself, for example, to buy soap, you can try to remember how it smells. The sound of a phone ringing can help you remember that you need to call back a client.
You can use these tips individually or together, whichever works best for you to improve your memory. Just remember, practice makes perfect.