How to improve your memory
You probably know someone who seems to never forget a thing: names, events, things that happened years ago can be recalled in seconds. How do these people do it? Mnemonic tricks can help boost your memory, but more importantly, good lifestyle habits as well as strategies for processing new information can improve how your memory works. It’s not just about rote memorisation – it’s about how info ‘sticks’ in the brain to use later on.
“Memorising ‘stuff’ should not be the goal,” says clinical researcher Jennifer Zientz. “Using what you remember – combining memories with other knowledge to form new ideas and to make choices – is a more healthy way to use your brain, and will enhance your life more than worrying about your ability to remember ‘stuff.’”
In order to free up your brain to remember new and important information, don’t waste energy trying to recall where you put your keys: it really is easier to find things if you always put them in the same place. “Having a routine can be very helpful for memory,” Zientz says. “Routines help us attain efficiency so we don’t have to expend a lot of brain power on predictable elements of our day. Efficiency in everyday activities frees up time and brain power for more meaningful things in our lives.”
Use your senses
If you have to put something in an unfamiliar place, say what you are doing out loud: “I am putting my sunglasses on the table by the door.” Or when you meet someone new, repeat their name out loud. “Most of us learn better when we can take information in through more than one sense because it puts the information in a greater context,” says Zientz. By letting your ears register the information, research shows you enhance your focus on it, increasing your chances of remembering it later.