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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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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