Memory Tips and Tricks
Memory can be a tricky thing. Our mind is an amazing thing that can keep memories from childhood, all the way up to what we ate for lunch yesterday. We think about so many things every day, that sometimes our minds get overloaded and our short-term memory slips. Here are a few tips and tricks to keep your memory sharp no matter what age you are.
- Chunking Technique: We are familiar with this one, even if you don’t know it. Our phone numbers are structured in a chunking format. The phone numbers are grouped in 3-3-4. Same goes for our Social Security numbers. They are grouped in 3-2-4. By chunking the numbers, you create new numbers which are easier to remember. Instead of remembering 392794653, you can make it only 3 numbers to remember by chunking it to 392-79-4653.
- Tactile Cues: There are a number of different ways that you can use tactile cues to help you remember important things. You may have seen the famous way of tying a string around your finger. These are simple little ways that you see and feel to keep reminding you of the task that you need to do. You may already do this without realizing it. Putting the bills in a place that you see often is a good tactile cue. You have to interact with the bills if they are on the countertop where you cook. You have to touch them and see them.
- Make it Absurd: If there is a grocery list of items that you need to remember, make a strange story out of the items that you need to help you remember everything without a written list. It can go something like this: The angry avocado invited the Quaker Oats man to go fishing for salmon in the river of orange juice. Now that you have an odd story that you can visualize in your head, you’ll never need another written list again.
- Mnemonic Tricks: There’s a very famous mnemonic trick that we’ve all heard from math class: Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally–Parentheses, Exponents, Multiply, Divide, Add, Subtract. You take the first letter of the word that you want to remember and string it together to make a new sentence. Have the new sentence be relatable and realistic so that you can easily remember it.
- Make It Rhyme: Things like, “the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plains,” are simple rhymes that stick with us. Even though, this one is technically not factual, the rhyme sticks nonetheless.
- Visualize It: If you need to remember where something is located, take a mental picture of where you are placing it. Be deliberate about taking a moment to focus on the things that are around to seal it in your mind. If you need to remember that your keys are in a front pocket of the bookbag, make a point to focus on the keys as you put them into the bag. Say out loud to yourself “the keys are in the front pocket of the bookbag” to give your brain an extra boost. By saying it, you create a new visual memory in your mind as you see yourself putting the keys in the pocket.
As with anything, practice is key to having a good memory. You have to be deliberate about choosing to employ one of these tactics to give your memory a boost. Once you get in the habit of recruiting these new tips, it’ll become second nature and you’ll be a memory wizard.