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Published on October 10, 2018

11 Best Tactics for Improving Your Memory Within a Month

11 Best Tactics for Improving Your Memory Within a Month

Over time your memory slips little by little, and the moments where you forget people’s names or can’t remember where you left your keys become more and more frequent.

It’s a natural process, and doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s something wrong with your brain. You just need to keep it active with regular exercises and stimulating activities!

With these 11 quick and effective tactics on improving memory, you’ll be able to remember more and learn new things a lot quicker in no time.

1. Stop multitasking

Being able to do a lot of things at the same time may seem like a really cool skill on paper. In reality though, multitasking for your memory is more of an annoying distraction than anything else.

Switching back and forth between two things disrupts your short term memory, making it near impossible to retain useful information. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention.

Be mindful, and try to focus on one thing at a time. When you’re trying to concentrate on multiple things at once, you’re not going to remember them nearly as well as you would if you paid attention to just one of them.

2. Don’t type – write it down

Writing something down instead of typing it can help you remember it later.

Multiple studies have suggested that writing something down by hand uses more parts of your brain than simply typing it.[1] It’s a lot more engaging and stimulating for your brain because it has to process and analyze the information before your write it down.

So if you want to make sure you remember something, don’t reach after a keyboard – pick up a pen!

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3. Use the power of visualization

A great way to remember something is using your brain’s power of visualization.

Let’s say you’re trying to remember a simple to-do list of your tasks for the day. Imagine you’re in your house, and the tasks you need to do are located in the different rooms of your house.

So later, when you want to recall the items on your list, you can simply picture yourself walking through your house.

If you know that you take in information in visual form better, use it to your advantage! Create your own visual cues – draw charts or figures on the margins of your notebook. Even something as simple as using a highlighter can be enough to help information stick in your mind.

4. Study a new language

It’s probably fair to say that not a lot of people will learn a new language for the sole purpose of improving their memory.

Even a very basic knowledge of another language has been shown to have a tremendously positive effect on your memory.[2] It’s easily one of the best ways to keep your memory sharp!

And you don’t even have to become fluent. Just learning the pool of the most commonly used words is enough to flex your memory muscles.

5. Enjoy music

We all listen to music, but not all of us realize that it’s not only enjoyable, but also very beneficial.

It seems like an entirely passive thing, when it’s actually one of the few activities that can engage both sides of your brain at the same time. Listening to music has a very positive impact on your memory, as well as your attention and coordination.

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But you can take it a step further – learn to play an instrument, learn to sing, or dance to your favorite music. All of it is good for your memory and your brain in general.

6. Take regular breaks form your tech

Smartphones, tablets, laptops. They have become such essential parts of our everyday existence that often our entire professional lives revolve around these devices.

And as incredibly useful as they are, they are massive attention hogs. For some reason, it’s difficult to concentrate and think clearly when you know there’s an unanswered email sitting in your inbox, and you have yet to even check your Twitter timeline today!

Resist the urge to constantly reach for your phone and check your notifications if you’re serious about improving your memory.

7. Get quality sleep, always

With the crazy rhythm modern life has, getting a good 8 hours of sleep every night may seem like a rare privilege.

But the truth is, a good night’s sleep is absolutely essential to not only to your mental health and general well-being, but your memory as well. Your brain needs sleep to consolidate memories, and grow new cells.

Even taking a quick nap after learning something new will dramatically improve your ability to retain that information. And consistently getting enough sleep will ensure that you’re always at the peak of your mental abilities.

8. Meditate to avoid stress

Stress often goes hand in hand with work and studies. That’s just sad a fact of life.

Another fact about stress is that it’s not very good for your memory. When you’re stressed, you’re a lot less inclined to take in new information and a lot more likely to forget whatever you’ve learned later.

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Meditating has been proven to be a fantastic way to reduce stress. It has numerous other health benefits like increased focus and attention, mood enhancement, and of course memory improvement.

Even as little as two minutes of meditation per day could go a long way towards improving your memory, so there’s literally no excuse not to try!

9. Pay attention to your everyday diet

Any balanced diet consisting of healthy foods can have a positive effect on your memory, but there are certain groups of foods that have especially great benefits.

Leafy greens, seaweed, berries, nuts, olive and coconut oil, avocado and turmeric are all extremely rich in brain-enhancing components like unsaturated fats, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.

Adding them to your grocery shopping list and incorporate them into your daily diet will not only help strengthen your memory, but provide you with numerous other health benefits.

In addition to eating more healthy foods, consider avoiding trans fats and sugar, as those have been proven to have a negative effect on your memory as well as your health in general.

Depression, poor memory formation, low attention span, and learning disorders are among just a few things that their consumption have been linked to.

And of course, remember to stay hydrated. Your brain is 73% water, so even the slightest dehydration can have adverse effects on your concentration and memory.

10. Try light exercises

A healthy diet is highly beneficial for healthy brain function. Combine it with regular exercise and you’ve got yourself a seriously killer combo.

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Regular physical activity, even something light like jogging or power walking, boosts the size of the part of your brain that’s involved in memory and learning.

So get yourself a pair of comfy sneakers and get going!

11. Try brain training games and apps

There are literally thousands of free brain fitness apps and games available. Exactly how beneficial they are for your overall brain function is somewhat debatable, but the best way to know for sure is to give a couple of them a try.

Even if you’re not a big on games, trying a few free memory training apps is super easy and will not take too much of your time. Give them a week or two, and if you see the befits – great! If not, there are plenty of other great ways to keep your mind sharp on this very list!

The bottom line

Good memory is not something everybody has, but it’s something you can absolutely develop and improve throughout your life.

Hopefully, our list above will serve as a good first step towards becoming a true memory champion!

Featured photo credit: Thought Catalog via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Arina Katrycheva

Marketing advisor, productivity expert and technology enthusiast

How to Improve Your Brain Memory Naturally: Foods to Eat And Skip 11 Best Tactics for Improving Your Memory Within a Month

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Last Updated on April 23, 2019

How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

Stretch goals are a lot like physical fitness. When you adopt a physical sport such as running, continual practice leads to increased stamina, growth and progress.

While commitment to the sport improves performance, true growth happens when you are stretched beyond your comfort zone. I know this from personal experience.

For years, I was an avid runner. I ran with a variety of running groups in the Washington, D.C., area and in Columbus, Ohio, where I lived prior to moving to the nation’s capital in 2011.

While I was initially fearful about slacking off on my exercise habit when I moved to D.C., running enthusiasts in the area provided continual motivation, inspiring me to lace up my shoes day after day. Much to my surprise, many of the area’s running stores (including Pacers and Potomac River Running) boasted running groups that met in the mornings and evenings. So, it was relatively easy for a newcomer like me to connect with like-minded peers.

I was never a particularly fast runner, but I enjoyed the afterglow of the sport: being completely drained but feeling a sense of accomplishment; setting and reaching goals; buying and wearing out new tennis shoes. The sound of throngs of feet pounding the pavement in semi-unison is still enough to bring tears to my eyes. Yes, I sometimes tear up at the start of races.

Of all the groups I ran with, the Pacers Store group that met on Monday nights in Logan Circle boasted the fastest runners. I met up with the group week after week only to be the slowest runner. It was difficult to muster the courage to get up every week and meet the group knowing what was waiting for me: sweating and watching the backs of fellow runners.

Each time I joined the group, I was stretching myself without even realizing it. Instead of feeling like I was transitioning into a better running, for a long time I felt I was torturing myself.

Then something remarkable happened. I went for a run with a different set of runners and noticed my time had improved. I was running at a faster pace and doing so with ease. What was once uncomfortable for me I now handled with ease.

The reason I was becoming a better runner was because I was taking myself out of my comfort zone and challenging myself physically and mentally. This example illustrates the process of growth.

Fortunately, we can create situations that stretch us in our personal and professional lives.

What Is a Stretch Goal?

A stretch goal – as authors Sim B. Sitkin, C. Chet Miller and Kelly E. See detail an article “The Stretch Goal Paradox” in Harvard Business Review[1] – is something that is extremely difficult and novel. It is something that not everyone does, and it’s sometimes considered impossible.

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In general, you establish stretch goals by doing things that are difficult or temporarily challenging.

For instance, when I was first promoted to a senior communications management role, I knew I needed to beef up my relationships with media personalities. I set a goal to once a month book a day of media interviews in New York City – which is home to many media outlets, including SiriusXM radio, CNN, NBC News, HuffPost, VIBE.

This was a huge goal because it meant not only identifying the right people to meet with but convincing them to meet with me and my team. While I didn’t end up meeting the goal of doing a full day of media interviews in New York City, I met more people than I would have met had I not established the goal and instead stayed in the comfort of my D.C. office.

It is important to note that just because you establish a stretch goal doesn’t mean you’ll achieve the goal each time. However, the process of trying is guaranteed to provide some level of growth.

The Importance of Creating Stretch Goals

The beginning of the year is a perfect time to assess where you are excelling and where there is room for you to grow. I typically start the year by creating a yearlong strategic plan for myself.

I think about the things that are necessary to do and things that would be cool to do. I assess the people I should know and think through how to meet them. Then I ask myself if the goals are realistic and what would need to happen for me to achieve them.

Over time, I have learned that there are five things I can do to set stretch goals:

1. Get Outside of Your Head

If I exist within the confines of my imagination, I imperil my own growth and creativity.

If I examine my accomplishments and celebrate them in isolation of others’ accomplishments, my vantage point is limited.

I want to be comfortable with what I accomplish, but I also want to be motivated by watching others. In some respects, stretching is about expanding your network of friends, associates and mentors. These are the people who will propel or slow your growth and development.

Since two are better than one, I always value being able to share my progress with others, seek feedback and then map a plan for success.

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2. Focus on a Couple Areas at a Time

When setting goals, it is important to focus on a couple of areas at a time. Most of us are only able to focus on a few things at a time, and if you feel you are unable to tackle all that is before you, you may simply disengage.

I see this in so many areas of life:

When people get in debt, if they believe the debt is insurmountable, they refuse to look at incoming bills for fear of facing down the debt. Unfortunately, many businesses go awry when setting stretch goals.

In “The Stretch Goal Paradox,” Sitkin, Miller and See note:

“Our research suggests that though the use of stretch goals is quite common, successful use is not. And many executives set far too many stretch goals. In the past five years, for example, Tesla failed to meet more than 20 of founder Elon Musk’s ambitious projections and missed half of them by nearly a year, according to the Wall Street Journal.”

Goal-setting is like a marathon, not a sprint. It doesn’t all need to happen at the same time, and pacing is extremely important if you want to get to the finish line. It is better to focus on a couple goals at a time, master them and then move on to the next thing.

3. Set Aside Time Each Year to Focus on Goal-Setting

When I was a managing director for communications for the Advancement Project, I spent the first part of every year facilitating a communications planning meeting.

The planning meeting began with the team members assessing the goals the team had established in the preceding year, and whether those goals were realistic or not. If we failed to meet certain goals, we broke down why that happened. From there, we brainstormed about possibilities for the current year.

For instance, one year we set a goal of pitching and getting 24 opinion essays published. This was audacious because no one on the eight-person team had the luxury of focusing exclusively on editing and pitching opinion essays to publications around the world. We would need to focus on pitching in between the rest of our work.

We hit this goal within the first eight months of the year. Remarkably, in total, we ended up getting 40 opinion essays published that year, which was an indication that our original goal was too low. We upped the goal to 41 the next year, and amazingly, we hit 42 published opinion essays or guest columns.

From this experience, we not only learned what was feasible, we also learned the power of focus.

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When we focused as a team on getting the commentary on our issues out in the public domain, we were successful. The key in all of this is that there was a ton of discussion around which goal we’d pursue and why.

Equally important, as a manager, I didn’t set the goals alone; the team members and I established the goals collaboratively. This ensured buy-in from each individual.

4. Use the S.M.A.R.T. Goal Model to Set Realistic Goals

S.M.A.R.T.

is a synonym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. For the sake of this article, the realistic portion of the acronym is most important.

While you want to set audacious goals, you want to ensure that they are realistic as well. No one is served by setting a goal that is impossible to accomplish.

Failing to meet goals can be demoralizing for teams, so it’s important to be sober-eyed about what is possible. Additionally, the purpose of setting goals is to advance and grow, not depress morale.

For instance, my team would have been discouraged had I begun the year asking it to pitch and place 40 opinion essays if we didn’t already have a track record of placing close to two dozen essays.

By using the S.M.A.R.T. formula, we were able to achieve all that we set out to do.

5. Break the Goal up into Small Digestible Parts

I am a recovering perfectionist. As a writer, being a perfectionist can be counterproductive because I can fail to start if I don’t see a clear pathway to victory.

The same is true with goal-setting. That’s why I join Lifehack’s fellow contributor Deb Knobelman, Ph.D., in noting that it is critically important to break goals into bite-sized chunks.

When I had a goal of doing daylong media meetings in New York City, I had to think through all the barriers to achieving that goal and all the steps required to meet the goal.

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One step was identifying which reporters, producers and hosts to engage. Another step was writing a pitch or meeting invitation that would capture their attention. Another step was thinking through the program areas I wanted to highlight and the new angles I could offer to different reporters.

Since reporters want to cover stories that no one else has written, I needed to come up with fresh angles for each of the reporters I was engaging. An additional step was thinking through who from my team I’d take with me to the various meetings.

I was clear that, as a talking head, as public relations reps are sometimes called, I needed the right spokesperson in order to land repeated meetings with different outlets.

A final step was thinking through what I needed to bring to each meeting and which reports, videos and testimonials would buttress our claims and be of interest to media figures.

As I walked through what was needed to bring my goal of doing daylong meetings to reality, I realized that not only was the idea within reach, but I was excited to tackle the challenge.

From that point until now, I have learned to break down goals into smaller parts and tackle the smaller parts on the path to knocking the goal out of the park.

The Bottom Line

These are my recommendations for setting stretch goals, and there are a ton of other resources to support you in the workplace and in your community.

For instance, LinkedIn’s Lynda.com platform has a wonderful suite of leadership development videos, including ones on establishing stretch goals. This is a paid resource but may be worth the investment if you lead a team or want to invest in tools for your own growth and development.

Featured photo credit: Avatar of user Isaac Smith Isaac Smith @isaacmsmith Isaac Smith via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: The Stretch Goal Paradox

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