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5 Simple-Yet-Useful Strategies To Always Remember Things You Learn

5 Simple-Yet-Useful Strategies To Always Remember Things You Learn

Our brains are incredible landscapes that medical science is just beginning to understand. They are made up of a vast territory of firing neurons bathed in chemicals that enable us to inhabit our bodies with authority and purpose.

As humans, we exercise the most powerful machine of recall on the planet, with a memory capacity that far exceeds any modern-day hard drive. When faced with the challenge of assimilating new information, the human brain goes through a specific method of cognitive processing. All input is stored initially in short-term memory, but this piece of our processing is like a small bucket, constantly overflowing and losing facts under a deluge of information and sensation.

Studies indicate short-term memory can hold up to 7 items for only twenty seconds at a time. Extensive research into learning strategies in the past few decades have enabled scientists to identify a few methods that ensure your brain will hold onto and remember the factual items you process. Most of the following are simple methods that you can use independently or combine to improve your ability to learn and retain important information.

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Strategy 1: Write It Down

This method, confirmed by a Princeton study in 2014, is based on the research that indicates our brains are much more likely to remember information that we physically write down as opposed to simple auditory processing or even typing electronic notes.

Because the physical act of writing utilizes different areas of the brain, it gives our memories more points of reference when we seek to recall that information. The tactile sensation of pushing against the paper is an important component of this strategy, as well as the speed in which we are able to take written notes. Scientists found that the slower pace of writing required students to reorganize information in smaller, shorter phrases that proved to be advantageous over electronic note takers, who were more likely to produce notes verbatim, but also less likely to remember the increasing amount of detail.

Strategy 2: Use Mnemonics

This is a strategy that has risen in popularity in recent years and studies have supported its ability to increase memory performance. Mnemonics involve consolidating a larger piece of information or a complex idea into a simpler phrase or sentence, where key points of the concept are usually represented by a corresponding letter that begins the first word of the idea being recalled.

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For instance, a mnemonic for the scientific method might be ” Quick (Q= Question) Rabbits (R=Research) Hover (H=Hypothesis) Everywhere (E=Experiment) Chewing (C=Collect Data) Giant (G=Graph/Analyze Data) Cabbages (C=Conclusion).” The Center for Research on Learning reports that students who employed this method before exams received test grades that increased from an average of 51 percent to 85 percent.

Strategy 3: Create Visual Organizers

Teachers have long noted the appeal of this method, specifically for younger learners. The use of visual imagery in note taking has the ability to cement ideas in the brain that enable the memory to work more easily off association, like a kind of shorthand. This mind mapping, if done well, can create a vast web of concepts tied to a particular image in the learner’s mind and is effective for those who are more active learners. It also, by default, utilizes the same tactile sensations as the strategy of producing notes by hand and can even employ mnemonics as an additional advantage for recall.

Strategy 4: Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

While the effectiveness of this method has been under fire in recent years, it is still a preferred strategy for many learners. The brain is more likely to remember information it sees repeatedly. But there are a few ways to enhance this fairly simple tactic, including auditory methods like repetitive songs or chants that utilize mnemonics or an approach called spaced repetition.

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Spaced repetition, championed by language learning icon Paul Pimsleur, involves repeating exposure to information at increasingly longer intervals of time. Initially, when seeking to learn something, it helps to repeat frequently. But as time goes on, spacing the repetition out a few hours and then a few days between can result in better recall over longer periods of time. It’s like endurance conditioning for your memory.

Strategy 5: Get Some Sleep

You’ve probably seen the research that suggests sleep is necessary to cement our memories and keep the integrity of information we learn intact. While we rest, our brains are quietly categorizing a vast trove of items in our memories, sorting and prioritizing so that information can be pulled up with ease when the need arises.

A study in Germany in 2011 suggested that our ability to learn information is enhanced directly before we sleep. To take advantage of this method, try to read and review notes immediately before drifting off. Our minds have a habit of holding onto the last thing we do or see before sleep and this phenomena can work in your favor when seeking to learn something new.

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Featured photo credit: wokandapix via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind.

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

2. Keep certain days clear.

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work.

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time.

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position.

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

7. Don’t try to do too much.

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan.

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first.

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work.

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour.

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

14. Never stop.

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body.

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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