Having a good memory can enhance your chances of success in school, at work and in all facets of life. Just as physical exercise can improve body agility, so mental exercise can sharpen memory skills.
Ways to improve memory:
Pay undivided attention. You cannot remember what you see and hear if you are distracted or multi-tasking. When it is important to remember a person’s name, certain information or a concept, actively listen. Mentally repeat to yourself, in order to fully process and reinforce what it is you want to remember. Ask questions in the form of feedback to ensure you understand.
* Identify your learning style
Some people are visual learners and reading is their learning tool. Others are auditory learners; they have to hear what is being conveyed in order to retain the information. Make a conscious effort to identify which type of learner you are and process information using that method. Writing something over and over works for some individuals, while others need to say aloud and repeat over and over in order to absorb and remember.
Connect what you want to remember to something you already know. If you are introduced to someone with the same name as a familiar relative, making that connection at the point of introduction will encourage your memory to retrieve the name the next time you meet.
Example: My daughter recently moved to a new house on Corrine St. I cannot, for the life of me, remember, for her old residence address is firmly planted in my mind. Once I associated her new address with my great-Aunt Corrine, I can now retrieve it from my memory whenever necessary.
* Organize information
Write to-do lists, make notations of important upcoming events on the calendar, record in an address book or a daily journal. Adopt a system for counteracting forgetfulness. Become a creature of habit. If you are always forgetting where you put your keys, establish a consistent place to put them, ideally right by the entrance/exit of your home.
By being consistent, you can also use misplaced items as a way to remember. If you forget to take your pills, place the pillbox in a visible place away from where you ordinarily keep it. Your memory will be nudged by your own inconsistency.
* Play brain games
Brain teasers that involve speed, problem-solving and concentration are all good activities to enhance memory skills. Board games, such as chess and checkers will help because they offer opportunities to strategize. Crossword puzzles, picture puzzles, scrabble and other word games all help to strengthen memory.
Mnemonics is making up your own associations in order to record something to memory; using imagery or humor as a way to connect with what you want don’t want to forget. Making up a silly rhyme, song or joke using key words to a speech will potentially afford you total recall while you are speaking.
* Physical fitness
Often fading memory can be attributed to poor health. Ensure to get eight hours of sleep each night. A tired mind cannot retain information. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Avoid unhealthy habits, like drinking and smoking. Exercise to keep your body fit and your mind alert.
You do not have to resign yourself to having a poor memory. You can be proactive and do something about it.
With a positive attitude and some memory-enhancing strategies, you can increase your memory skills. Do not give in to an inner voice that sends the negative message, “I just don’t have a good memory.” Do not accept that stereotypical limitation. Tell yourself, “I can remember,” and follow up with ways to improve your memory in order to improve your chances for success.