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Last Updated on August 8, 2019

Is Memory Enhancement Possible? 12 Ways That Actually Work

Is Memory Enhancement Possible? 12 Ways That Actually Work

Memory enhancement is important for three things: Productivity, Personal Growth and Prevention. Whether you’re working on growing your business or career, leveling up your life or staying ahead of future health problems, the simple memory enhancement methods in this article could make or break your efforts.

If you look into memory enhancement just a little, you’ll see there are different categories you can focus on.

In this article we will look at three categories: Nutrition (what we put in our bodies), Physical (what we do with our bodies), and Mental (tools and hacks we can use to train our brains).

For many, what we put in our face goes widely unchecked. If we do filter what we eat or drink it usually is about losing weight. But much of our nutrition impacts our brain, which impacts our recall.

At work, your brain is a huge asset. Whether you’re sharp or fuzzy mentally will impact your productivity. Memory enhancement gives you a smoother track to run on as you tackle big projects for your company.

1. Water for Memory Enhancement

The first ingredient in memory enhancement, nutritionally, is water. Drinking more water is such a common problem that they make apps just to help you track your water intake.

Many scold themselves knowing, in a general sense, they should drink more water because it’s good for you. But when it comes to memory enhancement, there are specific benefits to drinking more water.

While the body is made up of 60% water, the brain is made up of 73% water. A study conducted by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that “drinking water improved memory and focused attention.”[1]

This is such an easy one to add to your daily routine for memory enhancement. Find the easiest way you like to drink water and insert that into your day.

For me, I drink more water from a water bottle. Without my water bottle my water intake drops by more than half. Once you find the way you drink the most water, bring that method with you throughout your day and even to bed so that it’s ready for you first thing the next morning.

2. Fats for Memory Enhancement

Just like water, fats also make up a large portion of our brain. Fats feed our brain slow burning energy that allow it to function at optimum levels. So for memory enhancement, finding the proper balance of good fat in your diet makes a difference.

An article by Harvard Health Publishing found “polyunsaturated fats may be the heroes in the dietary battle to preserve memory.”[2] These fats can be found in nuts, olive oil and fish.

This doesn’t mean that you have to chug a gallon of fish oil. You can start simply by reorganizing what you eat and observe the mental clarity you find. Instead of carbs for breakfast, just try eggs and bacon. Instead of a refined sugar snack in the afternoon, substitute it with a handful of nuts.

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You don’t have to go to the extremes, just begin playing with the sequence of your food throughout the day and find where your mind most benefits from more fats.

3. Supplements for Memory Enhancement

Enhancing your memory can also happen through supplements such as fish oil supplements. The supplement industry is huge and there are many claims about improved cognitive function that aren’t founded in clinical studies.

If supplements are interesting to you for memory enhancement, the best course of action is to research your options. Look for blind and double blind studies if you want supplements with measured, unbiased results.

As with any of these methods, always research and test to see what works best for you.

4. Intermittent Fasting for Memory Enhancement

On the rise in the last several years is intermittent fasting. Common in the weight loss space, intermittent fasting has also shown benefits for brain and body chemistry.

Intermittent fasting can be done multiple ways. One of the most common protocols is to fast for 16 hours, then consuming your normal amount of daily calories in an 8 hour feeding window.

Many report mental clarity from intermittent fasting and studies show why the brain works well in a fasted state.

With the benefit of increased growth hormone and the healing effects of intermittent fasting, it’s worth a go for improved mental capacity.

How we treat our bodies is as important as what we put in our bodies. Our brain needs both exercise and rest to perform at its best. We seem to get this backwards by working our brain overtime with an overload of tasks and interruptions while sitting at our desks, in our cars or on our couches and not getting enough sleep.

5. Sleep for Memory Enhancement

In extremes, it’s easy to see that with sleep deprivation your memory suffers dramatically. But with our busy lives, many of us don’t think about sleep as a bridge to memory enhancement.

A study by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found “a good night’s sleep triggers changes in the brain that help to improve memory”.[3]

If you have trouble getting to sleep, here are some helpful tips for better sleep:

  • Turn off your devices an hour before bed
  • Meditate for 10 minutes prior to sleep
  • Eliminate alcohol or caffeine before bed
  • Try a natural supplement like Melatonin
  • Take up this night routine to get better rest at night

Getting enough sleep is an easy path to brain function. If you’re not getting enough sleep, the hardest part may be challenging your patterns or limiting beliefs that are keeping you from the sleep you need.

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6. Exercise for Memory Enhancement

Exercise is great for brain function. As cited on the Harvard Health Blog “a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning.”[4]

Exercise can be as simple as a 10 minute walk or even 5 minutes of stretching. The focus here is that as you activate your body, you activate your mind.

If you don’t currently exercise, start small and work your way up. Here’re 5 ways to help you make time for exercise.

If you exercise a lot, find ways to bring mindfulness into your physical activity for memory enhancement.

7. Massage for Memory Enhancement

Massage is a bridge to mindfulness. Time stands still, your body relaxes and your brain opens up to its potential.

Many times what impedes our memory and cognitive function is the busyness of life. We have too many tasks on our To Do lists. Our patterns of life have left little to no margin of time and space for our minds to relax. This is an impossible environment we’ve put our minds in.

Massage can be a great pattern interrupt to the chaotic chatter in our minds, creating an environment for the brain to breathe and enhancing our memory.

8. Meditation for Memory Enhancement

Similar to massage, meditation allows our brain to breathe and calm the chaotic chatter.

An advantage to meditation over massage is how quickly we can access a calmer mind. However, while many often say they want to do meditation, it’s hard for them to still their mind and relax into the quietness meditation can provide.

Meditation, in its simplest form, is simply breathing. You don’t need special phrases or to sit in certain positions. To get started, just sit in a comfortable position and breath deeply for as little as five minutes. Thoughts will come and go. Just bring yourself back to focusing on your breathing.

You can also have a try with this 5-minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime.

As you do this daily you’ll begin to notice how refreshed you feel in such a short amount of time.

Our brain can be trained. Like a muscle, the more we use it, the stronger it gets. Embedded in the phrase “memory enhancement” is the idea that we want to improve, not just maintain, how our brain works.

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In addition to mental and physical disciplines, we can train our brain with tools, creating a quicker path to a stronger brain. The hacks below are common and well established in enhancing memory. Add them to your daily routine and notice the difference in your mental clarity.

9. Batching for Memory Enhancement

Often used to improve workflow, batching refers to doing similar tasks in consolidated blocks of time. For example, rather than checking email throughout the day, you would check email once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

You can see how limiting the distractions can create an environment for your brain to focus on what’s at hand.

In a study,[5] researchers found that it takes the average brain over 20 minutes to refocus after an interruption. More important still, they found that a new interruption happens every 11 minutes, causing your brain to never fully catch up. This fatigues your brain and impairs your memory.

With batching, you’re simply reducing the amount of interruptions your brain has to manage, making it available for the work you want it to do.

10. Games for Memory Enhancement

Brain games can keep the mind sharp. Whether you play on paper or in an app, memory games can be fun.

There is a debate about whether games like crossword puzzles actually enhance your memory, but research is emerging that shows “brain training” is an effective solution.

Like growing muscles, when you push your brain beyond its current abilities you force it to grow. When used to push your brain to the next level, brain games a great way to enhance your mind.

11. Apps for Memory Enhancement

Similar to games, apps are great trainers of the mind. There are a large selection of apps specific for memory enhancement and exercising your brain.

Picked by Medical News Today out of hundreds of brain training apps, here are their top 5 apps for brain training:[6]

You can also check out more brain training apps here to train your mind and improve memory.

At different price points, you’ll want to find one that works best for you. If you’re busy, apps may be a great solution during small waiting periods in your day.

12. Mnemonic Devices for Memory Enhancement

The imagination is a powerful tool. Mnemonic devices use word play to make it easier to remember things like names and lists.

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Popular types of mnemonics include: Music, rhyme, expression/word, connection, spelling and image.

Here’s an example of an image mnemonic device that can be used for immediate recall:

Using numbers 1 to 10 you find a rhyming word with each number and then place the item you want to remember into the image you created in your head.

Our example will be for a grocery list, but you could use this for names, birthdays, work projects or tests:

One rhymes with run. So I picture a horse track with a horse running on the track. The first item on my grocery list is olives so I put a human size can of olives on the saddle of the horse running.

It’s important that you make the items in these visualizations memorable, like a human size can of olives on top of a horse.

Common rhyming words for this particular mnemonic device are:

  • One, run
  • Two, zoo
  • Three, tree
  • Four, door
  • Five, hive
  • Six, sticks
  • Seven, heaven
  • Eight, gate
  • Nine, wine
  • Ten, den

If you have 20 things to remember, you can begin to use colors to separate the groups of ten. For example, if I have 20 things on my grocery list then the first 10 visualizations can be in red and the second, using the same rhyming words, can be in yellow.

Try this out and you’ll see how quickly this works. The mind is powerful, especially when we use images and pictures that tell stories. Mnemonic devices are simply hacks that use images and pictures that tell us stories that are easy to remember.

Final Thoughts

It’s time to make this article actionable. You have many options when it comes to memory enhancement. The real trick now is to pick one.

Looking at your current goals in productivity, personal growth and prevention, you can narrow your focus to the methods that best support those goals.

Go back through this article and find three to five methods that interest you the most. Then look at your schedule, and decide how you will add these methods your daily and weekly routines to improve the environment of your brain.

With all the tools and research, there has never been a better time in history to train our brains. Your path to enhanced memory is now in your hands.

More About Memory Enhancement

Featured photo credit: Tamarcus Brown via unsplash.com

Reference

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Chris Angell

The founder of Groundswell Digital Marketing, helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses through done-for-you content marketing.

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Published on November 18, 2019

7 Simple Note Taking Techniques for Efficient Learning

7 Simple Note Taking Techniques for Efficient Learning

Whether you are going back to college or have decided to take learning into your own hands, note-taking is a skill that is truly unique.

On the surface, it can seem like jotting down the important points or stating everything word for word. But delving into the world of note-taking begins a realization that there is more to it than that.

So if you feel like your note skills are rusty, or if you didn’t care much about note-taking, here are some strategies to help you prepare and succeed in this area.

What to Do Before Note Taking

There are all kinds of strategies and systems in place to be taking notes. Some are more formal methods for taking notes while others are strategies that have helped others in the past. But before jumping into note-taking techniques, there are some things to consider prior to learning:

Adopt a Note Taking Mindset

Even our attitude and behavior plays a factor in our ability to take notes. For example, snacks with high sugar or high salt will impact our ability to pay attention to. This also applies to coffee which – if not consumed in moderation – can impact sleep and your ability to pay attention and focus as well.

In this regard, we can see already how mood can impact our ability to take notes. If we’re not focused or easily distracted, we will have a tougher time putting together accurate notes. But that is a more extreme case.

If you’re someone who doesn’t drink coffee or has a snack before class, attitude can still play a significant role. Think back to classes that you weren’t that excited for or that you were bad at. The only reason those topics are not your strong suit can be chalked up to your attitude.

Think about it:

The topics you excelled at made you feel good and you had a vested interest in. This is no different from other pursuits in your life. Compared to things you lack interest in, it’s clear that you would make no effort to learn about something that you don’t want.

So attitude makes a difference and this logic can be applied to even topics you’re not big on. All you need to do is have a positive attitude, pay attention, and study with a classmate or two.

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Preparing Before Class

First, if you are taking a formal course, it pays to be prepared. One study by Spies and Wilkin[1] found that law students who read a legal case before getting to class displayed deeper understanding of the material compared to others.

This doesn’t apply to courses where you are assigned reading but in all manner of courses. With plenty of information made available at our fingertips, there is a lot of opportunities for us to learn about the subject before a course or a training session.

This will pay off for you as you’ll spend more time focusing on understanding the tougher aspects of a topic rather than absorbing the information as is.

7 Note Taking Techniques for Effective Learning

In Miami University’s public database, there is a course outlining note-taking and active listening [2]. These particular methods are some of the more popular methods for taking notes.

1. The Outline Method

This method is used for simplicity and is one of the easiest methods of taking notes. Anyone can pick up this method and use it with no issues.

When using this method, the idea is to select four or five key points that are going to be covered in a specific lesson. Under those key points, you write more in-depth sub-points based on what is being discussed on those topics.

The idea with this form of note taking is so it doesn’t overwhelm you. But you’ll pay attention in a different manner. In the case of this approach, if you know what’s being discussed, you’ll focus on the important aspects of that topic rather than wonder what’s coming up next.

Use this method in cases where:

  • You want your notes to be organized from the start.
  • To see the relationships between both topics and subtopics.
  • You want to convert the points into questions to quiz yourself on later.

2. The Cornell Method

Developed in the 1950s by Cornell University, this is the most common note taking method around. In fact, the outline method is likely inspired by this method as there are similarities to it.

In this method, you are still using key points, but this method goes deeper into the organizing method. For one, the page is broken into three sections:

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  • a narrow column called the “cue”
  • a wider column for your actual notes
  • a summary at the bottom

The cue section is the section where you fill out main points, people, potential test questions and more. This section is devoted to helping you recall larger topics and ideas.

The note section is devoted to expanding and explaining those cue points. You still want to summarize them to an extent using headings. When getting into specifics, you want to indent them and use a numbering system, either roman numerals, numbers, or letters.

The summary section is the section you write up at the end summarizing all of the information in a clear sentence or two. You want both the summary and the cue to be simple seeing as your notes are where you want all of the details.

Here’s an example illustrated by Comprehension Hart:[3]

    This method is great if you:

    • Want notes to be organized even further and easier to review.
    • Want to pull out major ideas and concepts quickly.

    3. Mind Mapping Method

    Mind mapping is a method that works for subjects that have interlocking topics or complex and abstract ideas. Chemistry, history, and philosophy are examples where this method shines.

    The use of the map is to serve as a visual aid for how every topic is related to one another. It also allows you to go into detail on particular ideas or topics. An example of this at work is looking at the French Revolution.

    First, you’d start with that concept at the center and then begin branching off that led to events, and people that sparked the French Revolution.

    You can start off with broad general ideas and during the course or when you are reviewing, you can add in sub-concepts to those branches. Things like dates, support facts, concepts that you see between people and events.

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    That being said, this method doesn’t apply to  only those kinds of topics. Any kind of topic that you can break into various points can also help as well. Another example can be talking about different forms of learning and using the nodes to discuss each method and what each one is like.

    Learn more about this method here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

    This type of method for note taking is great for:

    • Visual learners who struggle with studying via notes.
    • For people who need to remember and connect relationships, and events with topics.

    4. Flow Notes Method

    Discussed in a post in College Info Geek,[4] this method is for those who want to maximize active learning in the classroom and save time in reviewing.

    The idea of flow notes is to treat yourself as a student rather than transcribing word for word. In this method, you’ll jot down topics, then start drawing arrows, make doodles, diagrams and graphs to get a general idea out there.

    This method also helps in drawing other bridges and form connections in various fields or within the subject. If some information reminds you of another piece of information or technique, make a note and jot it down.

    Take a look at this video to learn a bit more about this method:

    The only catch with this method is that while it’s great for learning at that moment, you may have a tough time reviewing them later. You may want to pair this method with another method mentioned above.

    5. The Sentence Method

    Another simple method and is a lesser version of flow notes. The idea with this is a simple note-taking. You’re jotting down everything that’s being said to the best of your ability. It’s genuine transcription at it’s finest.

    The problem with this method is that it can be tough to keep up with everything else that’s happening. If you’re writing notes by hand, you will definitely be missing key points and ideas. On a computer, you may be able to keep up, however, you may face challenges still.

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    Despite those problems, there are still advantages to this method. Compared to every other method, this provides the most details and information for review:

    • You can still be brief by covering the main points.
    • Your notes are already simplified for you to study and review them immediately.

    6. Charting Method

    Charting notes take the Cornell method and divide a sheet into three columns. Similar to the mind mapping method, this helps you in connecting relationships and facts together between topics.

    This method is a lazier method than the other ones mentioned above but works for the people who want to highlight key pieces of information on various topics and want to organize facts for easy review.

    7. Writing on Slides

    The final method is another strategy for people who can’t be bothered to take extensive notes. This method works well particularly in classes where the instructor provides slides that they’re using for their lectures.

    Whether it’s a handout or you can download them online, all you need to do is print them off and start writing away on them.

    This method is great because it removes a lot of the worry of taking general notes. Since ideas and concepts are already discussed, it’s a matter of expanding those notes already.

    What Note Taking Techniques Are the Best?

    As you may have noticed, each method is good in its own situation. Depending on what you’re learning – and your own preferences – each method has advantages.

    It’s also worth noting that every person learns and studies in a different manner. With this in mind, consider how you study and figure out the method that best compliments it.

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    Featured photo credit: JESHOOTS.COM via unsplash.com

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