How is your memory these days? About the same as always, getting better, or getting worse? Memory is something I think about a lot because I have always believed I have a terrible memory. My go-to fix for this has been to be a consummate note taker. I write down everything. Note taking only goes so far though.
Recently, I read that no one has a bad memory, just one that hasn’t been trained! Our memory is like any other skill; it can improve with practice and good habits. That sparked my curiosity and sent me on a mission to improve my own memory.
In addition to learning that with training we can improve our memory, I learned that our over reliance on technology can also have a negative impact on our memory. Have you heard of digital dementia? This term refers to how our short-term memory pathways can start to break down with the overuse of technology. We can look everything up on the internet in seconds, store hundreds of phone numbers on our phones, or use GPS to get from point A to B without having to think about it – and, all of this may be to the detriment of our long-term memory. While I’m not ready to go cold turkey on technology, I do want to focus on improving my memory.
I have been reading Jim Kwik’s book, Limitless, about ”unlimiting” our brains, in which he shares many ideas and tips on improving one’s memory. He starts with the mnemonic MOM:
M = Motivation – We have to be motivated to remember something, so figure out what your motivation is to remember something.
O = Observation – Many times we don’t remember something, like the name of the person who was just introduced to us, because we weren’t really paying attention. As Kwik states, “Most of the time when we fail to remember something, the issue isn’t retention but attention.”
M = Methods – There are numerous methods and tools that we can use to remember something (some links below). Learning and using these tools is a matter of practice and the more one practices, the easier they become to implement.
Below are some methods/tools for improving memory (and learning):
- Using active recall to improve your memory – Pause after you read or listen to something, think about what it means, and then write down a summary of what you just learned.
- Association – Attach visual pictures or create a story linking together the words or ideas you are trying to remember. Make it as vivid as possible in your mind and have fun. Do you remember Do-Ra Me-Fa-So-La…? Do, a deer, a female deer, Ra, a drop of golden sun, Me, a name, I call myself… – Yep, that’s using association to remember the musical notes!
- The AGES Model a method for long-term learning from The Neuroleadership Institute. It stands for Attention, Generation, Emotion & Spacing. This method can help people learn more quickly and retain information over the long haul.
- Learn about the importance of sleep when it comes to memory – Matt Walker: Hacking your memory — with sleep | TED Talk
- Here are 7 Ways to Keep Your Memory Sharp at Any Age – For example: “Use your senses. The more senses you use in learning something, the more of your brain will be involved in retaining the memory.”
I don’t know that I have improved my memory yet, but I am motivated to keep working at it!
P.S. Here’s a quick tip for keeping your motivation up.