There are memory techniques that you can employ everyday to improve your memory. These strategies can work within a week if you practice them consistently, turning them into habits.
Find a Permanent Home for Your Personal Items
At one time or another, each of us misplaces something important, such as our keys, wallet, eye glasses or cellphone. It is frustrating to always be looking for something that should be readily available. Avoid the stress of hunting for missing possessions. Take 10 minutes to find a permanent home for those items you use everyday. Hang your keys on a hook in the kitchen or be sure to put your wallet away in your top dresser drawer. Not having to remember where you left something and not having to employ your brain to retrace your steps to find the missing item will lessen the load your memory has to carry.
Practice the “Focus and Frame” Technique
Gary Small, director of the UCLA Longevity Center, says you should introduce yourself to a new person everyday, using the “Focus and Frame” technique. “Focus” is a reminder to fight through the distraction that causes us to miss the name in the first place. “Frame” means creating a memorable mental picture of the name. For instance, if you meet someone named Joe, imagine that person drinking a cup of coffee. If you meet someone named Melodie imagine a string of musical notes coming out of her mouth. Granted, some names are harder than others to make a visual connection with. However, the more you practice the better you will get at framing and focusing. This technique gets the hippocampus to collaborate with the frontal lobe to move the information into long term storage.
Always Make Associations
Have you ever been unable to recall a word, name or fact though it’s on the tip of your tongue? If so, the best strategy to conjure up that lost thought is to think of things you associate with it. If you blanked on the name of an actor, recall his various films and costars. According to Gary Small, “Our memories live in neighborhoods, so a neighboring memory could trigger the word you’re looking for.”
Tell a Good Yarn to Improve Memory
When you need to remember a list of things, come up with a bizarre visual story that links the list of items together. “If I know I need eggs and stamps and to pick up the dry cleaning. I see myself holding a big egg with a stamp on it, and the egg slips, getting on my pants, so I have to go to the dry cleaners,” Small says. “Exerting that mental energy creates a cognitive framework that helps you retrieve the information later.” The more creative the imagery, the more memorable it will be. This memory trick works well for long lists of items.
Skip Sudoku and Crosswords, Game it Like a Millenial
Stop with the sudoku and crosswords. Move over to more challenging games such as physics-based smart phone games like Cut the Rope, which was shown in a study to improve concentration, task-switching skills, and adaptability to new situations. Brainteaser games that involve planning and readjusting strategies, like Civilization and StarCraft, or chess, among others, also improve memory for day-to-day things, such as where the heck you parked your car. Finally, make sure you check out the Puzzles and Activities page on the Brain Up website. You won’t be disappointed by the mental challenges these puzzles pose.
Exercise Your Recall Muscle
Try this. Zero in on one article of clothing that a spouse, friend or co-worker is wearing. It could be a shirt, tie, jacket. jewelry or shoes. Notice the colors, patterns, texture and other details. Jot down at least 4 details that you noticed. Later, in the evening, try to recall all four or more details. Only check your notes after you see how well you remembered.
Don’t do the same things over and over again. Take the plunge and try something new. Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. Wear your wristwatch upside down so you have to figure out what time it is. Take a new route home from work and don’t use your GPS. Eat unfamiliar foods. Use your brain instead of your smartphone for basic mental skills like spelling and math. Make your activities more mentally challenging and jumpstart your brain today!