Do you have a good memory? Or are you constantly forgetting important things?
My memory is very selective. I’m unlikely to ever forget a meeting but I won’t remember the name of a pub I’ve been to ten times. I’ve decided I (subconsciously) do this on purpose though. I don’t worry my brain about little things that don’t matter. I’d rather save my brain space for important things. Like Spice Girl’s lyrics and celebrity baby names. You know, all that super vital information.
Even though I wouldn’t identify has having a ‘bad’ memory, I’m always on the look out to improve it. Having a bad memory doesn’t have to be a permanent state thankfully. There are plenty of things you can do in the long and short term to improve your memory.
If you struggle a bit with keeping on top of things, here are a few tips that will help improve your memory and concentration.
1. Deal with stress and health issues first
When you’re not taking care of yourself or you’ve committed to too much stuff, that’s when your memory starts to slip. If you’re tired and dehydrated, you have little to no chance of retaining information. I’ve been an advocate of water drinking for years because not only are there incredible digestive benefits, it also improves your energy and memory. Sleep is also important. I’ve written in the past about how important it is to ‘wash your brain’ every night because it stops you being rubbish at life but getting a good rinse cycle happening in your brain when you sleep will also help with your cognitive memory and concentration function. It’s all about getting good sleep and staying properly hydrated.
2. Use acronyms
Little rhymes and tricks might seem silly but they really work. I use the acronym TCB for ‘Taking Care of Business’ and I use that when I schedule meetings. Having the same acronym pop up several times a week in my calendar, helps me visualise when I have meetings coming up. I rarely miss meetings now because I have my TCB system. It’s a more memorable tagging system than ‘meeting with Sam’ which is a bit bland and totally forgettable. It’s also more likely to pique your interest… ‘TBC? What’s TBC? Oh… taking care of business!’. Mixing things up is good for you brain – give it a try!
3. Try visualisation and attaching the thing you want to remember to something unrelated
I spend a lot of time with my head down because I’m a writer and a crocheter. My remedial massage therapist gave me some exercises to do so I don’t end up with a bulge in the back of my neck from head being down all the time. The problem is that unless I’m feeling pain, I won’t remember to the exercises. So I use a visualisation tactic where every time I go to the toilet, when I’m washing my hands, I will remember to do my neck exercises. It worked an absolute treat. The only issue was that when I first started ding this, I was staying out of town for a few weeks and when I went back home to Melbourne, the habit dropped because the visualisation changed. You just need to re-do the visualisation if you happen to change environments. It’s good to mix it up every now and then too because your brain will become to used to it and consequently forget how to do it.
4. Use riddles and rhymes
I use them constantly to remember people’s names, particularly pairs of people. So for example my mates Lou and Jen from Paging Fun Mums, I only ever see them together and couldn’t remember which one was which. They were just Lou and Jen. So Jen has blonde hair and Lou has brown hair so I Chrissy and I came up with ‘Lou has hair the colour of poo and Jenny from the blonde’. It’s flawless. I never forget which one is which. I’ve also told them this and they think it’s hilarious.
5. Break things down
This is great for learning speeches or lines. Did you know Anthony Hopkins says each of his lines 200 times to make sure they’re committed to memory? If you need to remember lots of dialogue, break it into chunks and repeat, repeat, repeat. It’s much easier to remember twenty seperate sentences than an enormous chunk of words.
Bonus tip – Pay attention
A lot of people don’t necessarily forget things, they just fail to absorb the information in the first place. Being switched on is the best way to make the most of your memory. I often ask people in the street for directions and then I’ll tune out when they’re telling me the directions. Useful right? Paying attention and concentrating when important information is being given to you is the best way to set yourself up for memory success.
This week on Straight & Curly, Kelly and I talking all about how to improve memory… particularly if your memory sucks.