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5 Memory Hacks To Remember Everything

5 Memory Hacks To Remember Everything
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Believe it or not, the mind actually has unlimited capacity when it comes to what it can remember. The multi-store memory model explains this further but in short, provided you keep the information well rehearsed you can keep it in your memory indefinitely. There are also different ways the mind can learn and pick up information so here are 5 proven memory hacks to learn and remember everything:

1. Repetition

The most commonly used method but most people never use this efficiently. Repetition works because you start to transfer the information from your short-term memory (which has limited capacity and duration) into your long-term memory (which has unlimited duration and capacity). Repetition is normally done by writing something over and over until it begins to stick however did you know that a more effective way is to also speak it out loud? Or even by trying to explain what you’re learning to yourself in front of a mirror.

Information is stored in your long-term memory when it has been processed “deep” enough and writing something repeatedly is a very linear way of learning as it creates only a single pathway to the memory. When you combine this with speaking it out loud or having to try and explain what you’re learning too, you begin to form multiple pathways to the formed memory rather than a single one.

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Explaining something begins to cement the information into your semantic memory (used for understanding meaning) while speaking it out loud also helps store memory in an auditory store (this is how we recall and remember music in our heads). More pathways to the memory make it easier to recall.

2. Mnemonics

Mnemonics are incredibly effective for remembering list forms of information. You can effectively remember hundreds of pieces of information this way if you were determined enough. Mnemonics are a form of “chunking” (which is another memory technique but sufficiently different enough) and work by using a phrase to act as trigger words to remember more information as each word has further meaning within it.

For example: If you wanted to remember all 9 pla,nets in our solar system as well as their order from closest to the sun, trying to remember this information can be difficult however mnemonics make this so simple you can learn it in 20 minutes. Simply remembering the phrase “My Very Easy Method Just Shows Us Nine Planets” can be all it takes as the first letter of each word represents the planets.

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M = Mars, V = Venus, E = Earth M = Mercury, J = Jupiter, S = Saturn, U = Uranus, N = Neptune, P = Pluto

Now apply this type of memory technique to any information you need to learn and try to turn it into a memorable phrase. They key bit is to make the phrase memorable and roll off the tongue easily. Anything deemed too hard to say will also be difficult to remember otherwise.

3. Method Of Loci

Popularised originally by ancient Greeks and Romans, the method of loci is great for visual learners as it involves the use of your imagination and spatial memory which is a separate form of memory. This method involves you imagining a room or layout of somewhere familiar such as a street. You then assign meaning to each familiar object you pass and whatever it is you wish to learn.

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As you walk through your mental version of this layout and see these objects, they then trigger your memory for what they stand for helping you recall the information. This concept was famously used by Darren Brown and also by Sherlock Holmes who refers to this as his “mind palace”. If you have a vivid imagination (think artists, painters or people with a creative streak) but struggle with remembering words, this one is for you.

4. Chunking

I mentioned this briefly above but what exactly is chunking? This is the process of grouping large pieces of information into smaller pieces and then remembering these small pieces (rather than everything at once). You have a long string of information or essay to remember, what do you do? Simple, break them down into smaller chunks and remember these individual pieces instead.

For example if you needed to remember this string of letters: ACATJUMPEDOVERTHEHILL. You break down this string into chunks as follows and remember each individual piece one at a time rather than all of them at once: ACAT-JUMPED-OVER-THE-HILL

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Why does this work? This works because the short-term memory store on average can only hold approximately 5-9 pieces of information at once. Trying to learn more than this and transfer it into the long-term memory store will usually see your average person struggle. Therefore breaking it down into more manageable chunks that fit within the short-term memory store means you can grasp it all and learn it without feeling overwhelmed.

5. Mind Maps

Mind maps work because just like the mind, they think in every direction. You normally put what you’re trying to remember (or the question) in the middle and then draw branches coming out of it for all the different aspects of your answer. This is more visually easy to do than write paragraphs because if you find it easier to remember pictures rather than words, mind maps are for you.

In short; It’s easier to remember a picture than hundreds of words in your mind and mind maps help translate those words into a visual format and back again into words when you need to write them.

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Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek/www.picjumbo.com via picjumbo.com

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Saj Devshi

Psychology Teacher

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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