Strategies to Increase Your Ability to Remember
Wish you had a better memory? The desire for an improved memory is a common one; fortunately, there are some simple techniques you can use to accomplish this goal. If you’re trying to learn something new or increase your ability to recall information, try these tips.
One way to make it easier to remember several pieces of information is to put it into chunks. For example, instead of trying to remember these numbers: 2,7,5,3,8,7,9,3,2,6,5,8,9, & 5, try to remember this instead: 2753, 8793, 2658 and 95. Your brain can retain more information if you group it in this way than if you think of each number as a separate piece of information. Research demonstrates that chunking information continues to be a very effective strategy, even during the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Remember the Number 7
As you try to store information in your short-term memory, consider that scientists have concluded that our brains can store approximately 7 things in our short-term memory. Trying to remember a list of 12 things to purchase at a store will be a challenge.
3. Mnemonic Devices
Mnemonic devices are a great way to remember things. It’s quite easy to develop and remember a mnemonic strategy. For example, to learn the notes that fall on the lines of the treble clef in piano lessons, some students are taught the following phrase: Every Good Boy Does Fine. The first letter of each word, (E, G, B, D, F) is the note name for the lines of the treble clef. Likewise, to learn the names of the spaces, teachers might use the word FACE, where each letter of that word is the name of the note in ascending order.
4. Attach Meaning
You can also remember something easier by adding meaning to it. So, if you’re trying to remember items on a grocery list, you can make a sentence out of them like this: The turkey ate bread and peanut butter before she laid eggs and drank lettuce-flavored milk. This may help you remember to purchase turkey, bread, peanut butter, eggs, lettuce, and milk.
Attaching meaning is also helpful if you’re someone who doesn’t remember names easily. Associating someone’s name when you meet them with something you already know well will more easily help you to recall their name the next time.
Let’s imagine you just met Bob and Cindy. Think of someone else you know with the name Bob and find something they have in common with each other. Then think of Cindy and consciously connect her face with her name. Thinking of them as B.C., for Bob and Cindy, may trigger their names the next time you see them.
This may seem like an obvious one, but being intentional about repeating something will help it become encoded beyond your short-term memory. In the example of Bob and Cindy above, repeating their names in your head, along with the meaning you’ve given them, can help you recall those names later.
6. Write It Down
This usually works the best if you have a specific place to write things down, such as a notebook you always keep by the phone. The act of writing things down can help implant the memories into your brain, as well as serve as a reminder and a reference for you.
7. Space It Out
Rather than cramming before an exam the night before, studying information over a period of time will help you learn and recall it more effectively.
A Word From Verywell
Whether you’ve been gifted with an excellent natural memory or not, it can be encouraging to know that there are ways to more easily remember information. Sometimes, it just takes being intentional about receiving information in your brain instead of functioning on auto-pilot—which often happens when we’re multitasking.
Take a few minutes to practice a couple of these techniques and then seek to incorporate them into your daily life. This may require a small amount of your time and effort, but if you experience an increase in efficiency and effectiveness of memorization, it will make the investment well worth it.
Could you or a loved one benefit from some cognitive stimulation to improve your memory? Click here to find out more information.