Hack Your Memory With These Sure-Fire Tricks
Hack Your Memory With These Sure-Fire Tricks
Our memories are not perfect.
Even if we have it all together, it’s all too easy for our minds to drop the ball when we’re overwhelmed with information.
Take Jacob, for example, an entrepreneur looking to grow his business. He’s identified a promising market and delivery system and is doing everything right to promote his brand and target his audience.
But his Achilles’ heel? Memory.
It’s not that he isn’t intelligent — Jacob simply has difficulty keeping track of names and faces, not to mention the commitments and promises he makes.
Case in point: He recently traveled to a national conference, where he did some networking and also met some great speakers he’d like to follow up with.
Now Jacob is home with a pile of business cards and notes and a bunch of new contacts in his phone and he’s struggling to remember who he was going to call about what…
It’s a situation we can all relate to.
Luckily, there are some strategies you can use to strengthen your memory and keep track of all the details.
Take Advantage of Cognitive Offloading
One strategy you can employ is simply to outsource your memory to your smartphone, using features and apps to organize information, create a schedule and set reminders.
Psychologists call this “cognitive offloading.”
There’s some debate as to whether relying on our phones to remember phone numbers, give us directions and answer questions makes us mentally lazy. But it’s still a powerful and incredibly helpful tool.
Unfortunately, it only gets you so far. There will come a time when you’ll need to recall information without the assistance of your smartphone.
And that’s where the following tips and tricks come in…
The Power of Encoding
One of the best ways to improve your memory is to hack your brain’s innate ability to encode information. This is done by attaching whatever you want to remember to sensory or factual input.
For example, if you want to remember someone’s name, pull in a sensory detail that will help reinforce the memory of your meeting, such as a color they were wearing.
If you’re trying to remember the route to a location, study the location and its surroundings on a map for a few moments before turning to the GPS function on your phone. Your brain will use this factual information to solidify the route in your memory.
During this input stage, it’s important to avoid multitasking. By focusing on the information at hand, you’ll be more likely to remember names and other important data.
Another strategy you can use to encode information is to create a mental image, such as envisioning a whiteboard or a movie screen.
The whiteboard works well when you’re trying to remember things like phone numbers or lists. Try picturing yourself writing the information you wish to remember with markers, maybe even creating a color-coded system to further solidity the memory and facilitate recall.
Envisioning a movie screen works well for faces, names and conversations. After meeting someone, picture them on your mental movie screen as vividly as possible. Bring the conversation to life and replay as much as you can remember. You can also add information the same way credits appear at the end of a film.
You can further hack encoding by tailoring it to your individual learning style, such as tying information to music or a visual element or writing out what you wish to remember.
If you aren’t sure if you’re an auditory, visual or hands-on learner, a little trial and error will quickly pay off. Incorporating all three styles will also strengthen your primary learning style.
You can make names easier to remember by anchoring them to an existing piece of knowledge, like remembering your new associate’s name is Peter by thinking of him as Peter Pan and his petite assistant as Tinker Bell. It might sound silly, but you’ll be surprised how well it works.
Another great memory exercise is to review what you want to remember before you go to sleep. This strategy is especially powerful because your brain will process and encode information overnight.
So quiz yourself on names and faces, review your calendar, replay important conversations… just make sure you don’t focus on anything that will make you feel anxious or stressed. Sleepless tossing and turning will only be counterproductive!
The next day, take a few minutes to revisit the information you reviewed the night before and see how much you can remember accurately.
If you created sensory or factual encoding elements, does focusing on them bring more data to mind? Continue to revisit important information to give it a solid foothold in your longer-term memory.
Speaking of sleep, rest, nutrition and optimal health are essential to a sharp memory. You can easily boost your brain health with omega-3s and quality vitamins and by skipping sugar, eating quality whole foods and getting in some exercise each day.
You’ll rest more soundly, and in return your body and mind will give you their best.
Your memory is a tool, one that can work for you or against you.
Fortunately, you have more control over it than you think.