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Published on October 23, 2018

Is Memory Enhancement Possible? 12 Simple Methods That Actually Work

Is Memory Enhancement Possible? 12 Simple Methods 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).

Nutrition

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.

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.

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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.

Physical

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.

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]

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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.

Mental

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.

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.

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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.

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:

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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.

Featured photo credit: Philipp Mandler via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

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 January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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