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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 6, 2020

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Bristol is the most congested city in England. Whenever I have to work at the office, I ride there, like most of us do. Furthermore, I always make sure to go at off hours; otherwise, the roads are jam-packed with cars, buses, bikes, even pedestrians. Why is that? Because everyone is working a traditional 9 to 5 work day.

Where did the “9 to 5” Come From?

It all started back in 1946. The United States government implemented the 40 hour work week for all federal employees, and all companies adopted the practice afterwards. That’s 67 years with the same schedule. Let’s think about all the things that have changed in the 67 years:

  • We went to the moon, and astronauts now live in space on the ISS.

  • Computers used to take up entire rooms and took hours to make a single calculation. Now we have more powerful computers in our purses and back pockets with our smartphones.

  • Lots of employees can now telecommute to the office from hundreds, and even thousands of miles away.

In 1946 a 9-5 job made sense because we had time after 5pm for a social life, a family life. Now we’re constantly connected to other people and the office, with the Internet, email on our smartphones, and hashtags in our movies and television shows. There is no downtime anymore.

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Different Folks, Different Strokes

Enjoying your downtime is an important part of life. It recharges your batteries and lets you be more productive. Allowing people to balance life and work can provide them with much needed perspective and motivation to see the bigger picture of what they are trying to achieve.

Some people are just more productive when they’re working at their optimal time of day, after feeling well rested and personally fulfilled.  For some that can be  from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m; for others, it could be  2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

People have their own rhythms and routines. It would be great if we could sync our work schedule to match. Simply put, the imposed 8-hour work day can be a creativity and morale killer for the average person in today’s world.

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Productivity and Trust Killer

Fostering creativity among employees is not always an easy endeavor, but perhaps a good place to start is by simply not tying their tasks and goals to a fixed time period. Let them work on their to-do list at their own pace, and chances are, you’ll get the best out of your employee who feels empowered instead of babysat.

That’s not to say that you should  allow your team to run wild and do whatever they want, but restricting them to a 9 to 5 time frame can quickly demoralize people. Set parameters and deadlines, and let them work at their own creative best with the understanding that their work is crucial to the functioning of the entire team.

Margaret Heffernan, an entrepreneur who previously worked in broadcasting, noted to Inc that from her experience, “treating employees like grown-ups made it more likely that they would behave the same way.” The principle here is to have your employees work to get things done, not to just follow the hands on the clock.

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A Flexible Remote Working Policy

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer famously recalled all her remote workers, saying she wanted to improve innovation and collaboration, but was that the right decision? We’ve all said that we’re often more productive in a half day working from home than a full day working in the office, right? So why not let your employees work remotely from home?

There are definitely varying schools of thought on remote working. Some believe that innovation and collaboration can only happen in a boardroom with markers, whiteboards and post-it notes and of course, this can be true for some. But do a few great brainstorms trump a team that feels a little less stressed and a little more free?

Those who champion remote working often note that these employees are not counting the clock, worried about getting home, cooking dinner or rushing through errands post-work. No one works their 9-5 straight without breaks here and there.  Allowing some time for remote working means employees can handle some non-work related tasks and feel more accomplished throughout the day. Also, sometimes we all need to have a taste of working in our pajamas, right?

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It’ll be interesting to see how many traditional companies and industries start giving their employees more freedom with their work schedule. And how many end up rescinding their policies like Yahoo did.

What are your thoughts of the traditional 9-5 schedule and what are you doing to help foster your team’s productivity and creativity? Hit the comments and let us know.

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