It is a fact of life that an average person reaches the peak of his memory power by the age of 25. One then begins to experience memory lapses which gain frequency with age. Memory disorders may be due to a number of reasons apart from ageing.
These include improper diet, lack of sleep, excessive alcohol intake, and certain diseases. There are several tips for people who wish to improve their memory, ranging from simple changes in daily routine to drastic alterations in lifestyle.
A good memory will take you places. It is a much sought after trait at all levels – school, college, even at work. People with a good memory learn faster, and in today’s impatient world, fast learners are in great demand. All memory improvement techniques can be classified into two broad categories, viz. enhancing brain health and undertaking memory development exercises.
Here are 29 proven memory hacks you can use to improve your faltering memory.
1. Sleep Well
It has been scientifically proven that the amount of sleep you get directly affects your memory power the next day. Further, sleeping for too few hours is as bad as not sleeping at all. This is because, as you sleep, your brain consolidates all that happened from the previous day, thus adding to your stock of memories. Lack of sleep adversely affects your concentration too. It is imperative you get at least 6 hours of sleep every night.
2. Brain Games
Puzzles and games that test your logic keep your brain cells active. They improve concentration and memory, while providing good entertainment. Some brain games even help increase IQ levels. The ideal brain exercise is that which keeps the entire brain active. Different brain games involve different portions of the brain. So, for a whole brain workout, play a mixture of games, keeping each session around 15 minutes long.
3. Omega – 3 Supplements
It has been established that the deficiency of Omega-3 fatty acids in the body drastically decreases the brain’s ability to retain information. It is imperative for brain health that omega-3 supplements are taken along with the regular diet. Fish oil contains a good level of omega-3 fatty acids. The intake of a suitable amount of fish oil improves concentration and learning ability.
4. Colorful Fruits and Vegetables
Brightly colored foods are packed with powerful antioxidants that protect brain cells from deterioration. Healthy brain cells are conducive for retaining everything to memory. Strong brain cells empower the brain to retain things and enhance its ability to recollect stored information faster.
Caffeine is an incredible stimulant that improves attentiveness and concentration, which can boost learning. Studies show that 2 cups of coffee a day has enough caffeine to provide the brain much needed stimulation to retain and remember what is being learned. A little precaution needs to be observed while taking coffee to boost memory as more than 2 cups of coffee could be detrimental.
6. Aerobic Exercise
Researchers have discovered that the growth of new brain cells is aided by aerobic exercise. Thus, jogging, biking, swimming etcetera promote development of fresh brain cells in the hippocampus of your brain. This enhances your concentration and memory greatly.
7. Vary Routine
Getting out of the rut and varying some of the constants in routines can greatly improve memory. Alternating the time of studies from morning to evening can aid in better grasping than following a fixed routine. Monotony has been noted to be unfavorable for storing data into memory.
Making notes makes recollection better. Notes can be made in the mind or written down. Either way is good for improving memory. A mental note made of something observed is immediately transported to the brain and remains etched in the mind for a long time.
Memory can be immensely enhanced by frequent recaps of what is learnt. Going over data repeatedly allows the brain to grow accustomed to it, and the data gets stored in long term memory.
10. Be Attentive
Do you remember being told to “pay attention” when you were growing up? Adults around us were always asking us to listen up. Lessons in school, instructions at summer camp, list of do’s and don’ts at home; we were always bombarded with commands. If you recall, paying attention had its benefits; you remembered everything when you were attentive but forgot stuff if you were distracted. The same holds true for us as adults too. We remember things if we pay attention to the details. We cannot remember things we never learned. To be able to remember things we need to feed information to the brain, the same way we encode data into the computer. This helps us to retrieve required data when we need it.
The human brain has the ability to process data and store it into memory within a matter of seconds. This gets done faster while focusing intensely on the subject; whereas distractions cause the brain to take longer than usual to process the same piece of data.
11. Relate Information
It helps the brain to retain information better if you relate it to something. Try involving your senses when you are doing something and it will help you remember better. Whenever possible relate information to textures, smells, tastes and colors. Does this help? Yes it does! The same way as the smell of freshly baked cookies perhaps reminds you of your grandma or the sight of a rainbow mentally transports you back to your childhood.
12. Be Repetitive
Repeating information leaves an imprint of it in your mind. You can repeat information by repeatedly going over it or by writing it down several times. Why do we still remember the ABC? It is because we recited it a zillion times as kids. The brain will remember information you give to it repeatedly.
13. Use Visual Imaging
Images, drawings, maps and graphs are brilliant aids that help remember information. Associating information with graphic representation can make learning and remembering much simpler. The mind processes graphic information better which enables recalling it better as well.
14. Connect Information
When you are learning something new, relate it to information you already know. You can then build on the information already stored in your brain.
15. Understand the Basics
While trying to remember complicated things, it pays off to understand and learn the basic ideas involved rather than going for the intricacies directly. Take one step at a time. Frequent recaps of material you have learnt help you retain information for a longer period. This method of reviewing data at regular intervals is much more effective than last minute cramming.
16. Run Through Information You Know
Practice makes perfect is so true. You will never forget something you have gone through over and over again. Get into the habit of going through information in your mind and you will always be in a position to recall it when you need it the most. Explain what you have learnt to others in your own words. If you are able to do this successfully you will never forget what is in your memory.
When you learn something new go over it again the same day. Ensure you have a clear understanding of the concept or data and are able to recollect it in totality. If you fail to do so, go through the information again until you are able to recall details without assistance. Follow it up with regular reviews so the information gets etched in your mind forever.
Multiple accounts need multiple passwords. How do you remember whether a password belongs to a social networking site, an online shopping website, an internet banking account or your email account? The first hurdle to cross is linking a password with a particular account.
It is probably impossible to remember each password you create if it is not associated or linked to something in your life. If you create a random password which has no meaning or you do not associate with, you will find it impossible to recall it. To remember a random password you would need an extraordinary memory.
18. Play with Vowels
You need to take certain measures while creating passwords. If you need a password for an email account which you use for receiving and sending official mails create a password that is linked to your workplace. The password can have the name of your office or the street or building your office is located in. If you work for Rossetti Pharmaceuticals, incorporate this in your password.
You can make it difficult to crack by removing vowels from the name, so your password would be ‘rssttphrmctcls’. Add the year you joined the office or a symbol if you wish and you have a password that you will never forget. When you need to open your mailbox, you know it is linked with your place of work and the password pops into your head right away.
19. Fool Around with Names
Integrate names into a password for a social networking site account. Take the names of two of your closest friends and use those for a password.
Assume your friend’s are called Michelle and Dominic; use the consonants from one name followed by vowels from the other and add the year you passed out from school to create a password you can remember. Your new password will be “mchlloii2009”.
20. Join and Create
Here is a simple trick to create password for your internet banking account. Banks and compound interest have a connection so create a password using compound words. Take any three words, join them together and you have your password.
To be able to remember the password select words related with money or bank and capitalize the last letter of each word. How about using the words pay, bank and cash! You get an easy to remember password that will look like this – “paYbanKcasH”.
21. Cut short Words
You are required to register on online shopping sites and need a secure password to keep your transactions safe. Choose a sentence that best describes the online store or what you buy from there and use the sentence as part of your password.
Supposing you love to shop for bags from a particular online store. Describe your love for bags in a sentence – I love to shop for bags at leather and create your password using this sentence. Take the first letters of each word to make a unique password that will look like this – “iltsfbal”, easy enough to remember but difficult to decode.
Once you understand how the brain remembers things you will be able to create multiple passwords for your various accounts and remember them with ease. The key to remembering passwords is creating a connection between passwords and where they are required to be used.
Mnemonics to Boost Memory
A mnemonic is a learning device which helps improve memory retention by modifying data into a format the brain can grasp with ease. This very process may allow information to be stored in long term memory.
Mnemonics are generally auditory or visual. The most commonly used auditory mnemonics involve lists, rhymes and catchy phrases. On the other hand, the use of visual mnemonics is done on the basis of the fact that humans react more strongly to physical, personal, humorous, shocking, or any such relatable data than they would to abstract information. The Greek word mnçmonikos, meaning ‘of memory’, provides the basis of the modern day word mnemonic. It is also related to the Greek goddess of memory, Mnemosyne.
A widely used mnemonic people fall back on to memorize lists is the creation of an acronym, by putting together the first letter of each item on the list. Another variation is to use the first letter of each member of the list to create a phrase you will not forget.
This method is convenient and simple and is much used by students studying for exams. Anybody can come up with a suitable mnemonic to help them remember a tedious list. One very common example of an acronym being used as a mnemonic is VIBGYOR, which, on expansion, gives us the colors of the rainbow, in order.
23. Foreign Languages
People learning foreign languages have found mnemonics to come quite handy. While learning a new language, it is helpful to relate unfamiliar words to words having similar pronunciation in your native language.
This enables your brain to connect the “link word” to the target word, thus committing it to memory. Michel Thomas, a well-known linguist, often made use of this technique while teaching his students. For example, he taught his pupils to remember that the Spanish word for ‘to be’ is ‘estar’, by keeping in mind the phrase ‘to be a star’.
24. Numerical Series
Mnemonic rhymes or phrases are much used to encode a string of numbers into an easy to remember format.
There are several variations, one of which is constructing a phrase comprising words having the same number or alphabets as the respective numeral. As an example, consider the mathematical constant pi (3.1415), which translates to the simpler form of ‘Now I need a drink’.
25. Visual Mnemonics
The basis of visual mnemonics is the association of an image or an object with the data to be memorized. One simple example is found in the representation of the phases of the moon by the letters DOC, where the shape of each letter describes the general shape of the moon in each phase. Here, D represents a waxing moon; O corresponds to a full moon, while C symbolizes a waning moon.
Visual mnemonics have proved useful in physics too. Right and left hand mnemonics are used in electromagnetism to denote the directions of flow of current and force. Here, the thumb, index finger and middle finger each represent a specific entity.
How To Remember Faces
26. Repeat the Name and Address The Individual
Get the name of the person you are introduced to and repeat it several times in your mind. While repeating the name picture the unique feature that you had earlier identified so your mind makes a connection between the face and the name. Do so many times while you are in conversation with the person.
If the individual has a name foreign to you, ensure you get the pronunciation correct. Repeat the name so it feels comfortable on your tongue. Ask for spellings if you are unsure of how it is spelt. The more you delve on the name the better your chances of remembering the same and the person on a later date.
Do not hesitate to address the person by name during the conversation. Mention the name when biding goodbye and focus on the face. Your subconscious mind will register the same and store it into memory.
27. Study the Business Card
At an official meeting when someone important hands you their business card, study it for information that you can commit to memory and use to associate it with the person. If the card has some interesting information such as a different sounding first name or an address that you are not familiar with steer the conversation towards it. The more information you gather about the individual the better you will be able to remember the name and face; because the brain will have a name, face and relevant data about the individual to remember.
28. Hold a Conversation
When you are meeting someone for the first time always ask them what they do. You create a certain bond by asking questions and the discussion that pursues. You gather information about the individual which will help you remember them better. You are unlikely to forget someone with whom you had a long chat and are most likely to forget someone you meet fleetingly.
29. Stay Focused
If you want to remember faces and names better you need to be in control. If you get distracted or your mind drifts to other things while you are in conversation with a person you send signals to the brain what you are doing is unimportant. Which means even though you had got the person’s name you will most likely not remember it because you were not completely focused.