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5 Memory Hacks To Remember Everything

5 Memory Hacks To Remember Everything

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.

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 October 23, 2018

How to Eliminate Work Stress When You’re Stressed to the Max

How to Eliminate Work Stress When You’re Stressed to the Max

Workplace stress is a modern epidemic. More than one-third of American workers experience chronic work stress. This is estimated to cost American businesses up to $300 billion a year in lost work hours and medical bills.[1]

Clearly, if you’re suffering from work stress – you’re far from alone. But, work stress isn’t inevitable.

In this article, I’m going to help you identify the root cause of your stress and suggest the most suitable ways to cope with job stress so you can become a happy and productive worker again.

Where Work Stress Comes From

Certain factors tend to go hand-in-hand with work-related stress. The causes of stress include:

  • Too much work – you feel overwhelmed by your work and find yourself saying: “There are not enough hours in the day!”
  • The job is too easy, not challenging or inspiring – this is where boredom (which is stressful) sets in.
  • Pressure from co-workers or lack of social support – colleagues are not helpful or only care about their own tasks.
  • Little praise and lots of criticism – this is where a lousy manager uses constant criticism to ‘try’ to motivate you.
  • Very demanding or competitive working culture – sales departments often fit this category.
  • Not having enough control over job-related decisions – this is when people try to micro-manage you.
  • High expectations on yourself or seeking perfection – while it’s good to do your best, being a perfectionist can be a powerful stress generator.
  • Low salary – if you work hard but receive slim financial rewards, you may start to feel downhearted, frustrated and stressed.

The Negative Effects of Stress on Your Mind and Body

Chronic stress is bad news for your mental health and physical health. These are some health symptoms of stress:[2]

    If stress hormones are triggered in your body for extended periods, they can lead to increased physical aging. This is because stress makes your cells look and act older – and this is reflected in your physical appearance.[3]

    In addition to the negative effects on your body, stress also has a significant influence on your brain – negatively impacting your daily performance.

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    I recommend you watch the 4-minute video below to see just how stress can wreak havoc on your brain and your performance:

    How to Cope with Work Stress (A Step-By-Step Guide)

    You don’t need to be a victim of work stress. Here’s how to manage stress in the workplace:

    1. Set aside some time for planning

    If work has become too much for you, and you’re constantly falling behind… stop! Instead of trying and failing to catch up, you’d be much better off spending some time thinking about your goals and how your prioritize your tasks.

    Learn how to set clear goals with this step-by-step guide.

    For instance, if your initial goal is just to get on top of your work (probably for the first time in months), then take 10 minutes to think clearly and deeply about how you can achieve this. Most likely, you’ll be able to come up with tasks that you need to complete to reach your goal. And once your goal and tasks are clear in your mind, you’ll be ready for the second step.

    2. Align your tasks with your goal

    Just knowing your goal and associated tasks is not enough. Many people reach this stage but still fall behind with their work and fail to achieve their goals.

    The secret is to understand which of your tasks should be high priority and which ones can be done when you have spare time.

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    For example, checking your inbox every 20 minutes may seem to be a productive task for you, but in reality it acts as a constant distraction and productivity killer. Instead, you’d be better off setting aside 30 minutes in the morning to check your emails and 30 minutes in the afternoon to do the same.

    By doing this, you’ll free up the bulk of your day for tasks that can help you reach your goal. These tasks are likely to be things like: writing a business proposal, creating a PowerPoint presentation, and finishing an important project.

    These tips on how to prioritize will help you align your tasks with your goals and work 10X more efficiently.

    3. Remove, change or accept the stressors

    How to tackle specific work stressors? I recommend the following method that WellCast introduced:[4]

    Take a piece of paper and divide it into three columns. At the top, write remove in the first column, change in the second and accept in the third.

      Next, think of the stressors that are getting to you the most. Perhaps it’s your paycheck; it might be way smaller than you’d like or feel that you deserve. Don’t worry, this is your chance to break free from the stress surrounding your low pay.

      Think for a few moments, which would you prefer:

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      • To remove yourself from the company
      • To try to change your salary by asking for a pay rise
      • To accept that your salary is okay for you

      You may be surprised at what thoughts come into your mind. Don’t reject them, but allow yourself time to be clear on how you’d like to proceed.

      If the status quo feels good to you, then write “paycheck” in the accept column. If you decide you want to increase your salary but stay in the same company, write “paycheck” in the change column. And finally, if you decide the time is right to seek a new opportunity at a different organization, then write “paycheck” in the remove column.

      By being decisive in this way, you’ll immediately feel freer and in control of your destiny. And your stress levels will begin to trend downwards. All that remains is to set yourself a clear goal of what you want to achieve and how you’re going to do this.(Luckily, steps #1 and #2 above will help you out!)

      Of course, if you have multiple work stressors, then use your remove, change or accept sheet to work through all of them. It will be time VERY well spent.

      4. Create positive relationships at work

      One key to improving your ability to manage stress is being able to accept help from others. Not only does it alleviate negative circumstances by simply distracting you and creating a buffer between daily tasks and their negative connection, it will provide a sense of support and relief.

      Make an effort to create friendships with your colleagues. Go to the after-work happy hour or just ask a colleague out for coffee at lunchtime. Not only will you have someone to confide in, but you will start to associate positive feelings to work.

      Forming a healthy relationship with your manager or supervisor is also a good way to alleviate stress. Positive, two-way conversations about where you stand in your job, being honest about how you feel, and working together to make a plan of action in terms of improved work conditions and expectations are paramount. This will lead to opening up and receiving the necessary resources you need to support or help you.

      5. Take time out for yourself

      Anyone can get overwhelmed when stress occurs at work, and this can spill into other areas of your life. This is why it’s important to clock out mentally from your job from time to time.

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      Take time off to relax and unwind in order to regain your energy and come back to work invigorated. Make sure you actually do something you enjoy like spending time with your kids or partner, or visit that country you’ve always wanted to explore.

      If taking time off work isn’t possible in the midst of your stress, take scheduled breaks throughout your day. Sit quietly somewhere or do some stretches to get your blood flowing like in the example below:

      6. Take mindful action towards your health

      The irony of stress is that your healthy habits can take a backseat. Maintaining and even improving your health will keep your stress under control. Here are some ways to keep you physically fit:

      • Eat healthy foods. Make sure your diet is full of foods that provide your body with sufficient nutrients. Eat more fruits and green vegetables, whole foods, omega-3 rich fish, and seeds such as flax, chia and hemp. These types of food ensure your body is working optimally to cope with its stress mechanisms.
      • Avoid unhealthy foods. This is obvious, but it’s these kinds of food you reach for in times of stress and negativity. High fat foods such as cheese and red meat cause sluggishness and tiredness. Foods high in refined sugars like biscuits, chocolate bars, and bread can be convenient snacks, but they cause you to crash and burn. Same with caffeinated drinks such as coffee and sodas – these are just ‘band aid’ habits that interfere with your ability to sleep.
      • Exercise regularly. Endorphins are the best for counteracting stress, and what better way to release them than doing physical exercise. Exercise creates a distraction and helps you get your thoughts back together in an orderly way. Start a new exercise regime – whether it’s running, swimming, cycling or walking to work. Getting your blood and endorphins flowing will make you feel happier.
      • Get enough sleep. Make getting 8 hours sleep a priority. When we’re stressed it can sometimes feel hard to get to sleep but sleep deprivation only exaggerates our current stress. A well-rested mind is able to find solutions to problems more easily and reacts better to daily stressors.

      Final Thoughts

      Everyone encounters stress at work. It’s a natural and normal human reaction. The difference between letting the stress overcome you and coping with it is getting a head start by creating a positive environment and lifestyle.

      Counteracting stress is both an inside and outside job. Focusing on improving your health will create a positive mind able to react better. Forming positive relationships with certain people around you will give you emotional support.

      Beat stress with the right mindset!

      Featured photo credit: whoislimos via unsplash.com

      Reference

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