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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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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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