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Last Updated on January 27, 2021

How to Improve Memory and Recall What You’ve Learned Fast

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How to Improve Memory and Recall What You’ve Learned Fast

Learning how to improve memory recall is a common concern once we hit a certain age. Friends and family remind us that memory is the first thing to go when we get older, or perhaps hearing and eyesight, which are linked to our ability to learn and engage in personal development.[1]

It’s true that, as we get older, things don’t always work the way they are supposed to, including our long-term memory and short-term memory. We struggle to recall our friend’s birthdays, that new word we read yesterday, or that random trivia fact we used to throw into conversations. However, maybe it’s not because we’re getting older, but rather because the methods we use to learn and improve our memory are bad.

Nevertheless, it’s important to not panic as there are all kinds of strategies and resources available as we learn how to improve memory recall.

Why Is Your Memory Bad?

To understand why the strategies I’ll share are helpful, you need to understand why your memory is bad in the first place. The first most important thing to remember is:

People forget all the time.

Passwords, grocery lists, our phone, car keys, and more—people forget things, and it often has nothing to do with age. That being said, there are particular causes that enhance the frequency of this. Excessive use of the following will further inhibit our memory and learning capabilities:[2]

Lack of Sleep

Quantity and quality of sleep are essential to memory. Most tips offered for retaining and growing memory include getting a good night’s rest, so it’s no surprise a lack of it will harm memory.

Depression and Stress

Depression will normally cause people to lose focus and struggle with concentration. This state of mind eventually turns into a loss of memory. Stress works in a similar fashion as we struggle to concentrate. We’re too tense and our mind is overstimulated.

Nutritional Deficiency

Our brain needs certain nutrients in order to function. Specifically, B1 and B12 are vitamins that impact our memory, and lacking either will cause problems with memory recall.

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Alcohol or Drug Use

Excessive use of either substance has been linked to brain damage, which results in memory loss. Smoking also falls in the same category.

Medication

A large number of over-the-counter medications can actually cause memory loss. From antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications to sleeping pills and pain medications, they can all have side effects that cause you to forget things you once easily remembered.

Learning how to improve memory recall can be as simple as avoiding these causes and considering the following:

These are all great things, but we can always do more. There will still be lapses in memory and other factors.

Thankfully, the tactics I’ll share below will help in mitigating those factors and help you as you learn how to improve memory recall.

How to Improve Memory Recall Fast

How to improve memory quickly is no easy task. In most research revolving around memory, the training process can take months or even years. The upside is that all these techniques are simple and take a few minutes out of your day.

So while the process takes a while, the daily demand is minor and easy to get into a cycle with.

1. Work out Your Brain

Our brain is immensely powerful. Over the span of our lives, our brain develops millions of neural pathways, which give us the ability to process and recall information quickly. The speed with which we can solve problems and execute habitual tasks with no effort is thanks to these pathways.

That being said, if we continue to stick to those comfortable roads, we’re not really growing, are we? While well-worn pathways are helpful, especially when they’re linked to good habits like exercise, grooming, or reading, they’re not challenging.

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Do yourself a favor and challenge yourself once in a while. As the saying goes:

“Use it or lose it.”

This refers to muscle strength, but the same can be said for our memory. If we don’t use it, how will we be able to retain it? The more you give your brain a workout, the better you’ll be able to use it in the future.

2. Learn Actively

Another great way to improve memory is to get out there and learn a thing or two, but instead of learning passively by just reading more or taking classes, use your brain as you learn actively. Take some practical steps to support your own learning and memory:

Pay Attention

Even if the topic is familiar or you’ve heard it all before, learning isn’t always about hearing it once and abandoning the subject. Ideas and concepts are worth repeating as this kind of spaced repetition improves retention and memory recall.

Relate Information to What You Already Know

People learn through stories or by example. It’s why some people associate words or items with people’s names sometimes. These strategies help us in learning and retaining information, and the same can be said about the information on any subject.

Rehearse Information You Already Know

Reviewing and studying do help in retaining information and growing. When we have a grasp of the basics, we can expand from there.

3. Work out Your Body

When you’re learning how to improve memory recall, keep in mind that research has shown that working out our bodies also promotes memory growth.[3] Specifically, exercising affects our plasticity. Plasticity is the ability for our brain to change its structure as it develops and grows.

In other words, exercise can open our minds to changes. Exercising can also promote new neuronal connections, which help solidify new habits in the first place.

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Best of all, these exercises don’t have to be incredibly strenuous to get the benefit. Aerobic exercises work especially well on the brain. Examples are walking, jogging, swimming, or cycling. Generally speaking, any exercise that is good for the heart is good for the brain.

4. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep, as I mentioned above, is important, though people have different definitions of proper sleep. Some people struggle to get quality sleep due to insomnia, stress, or a busy schedule.

The vast majority of us need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.[4] Skipping out on a few hours will make a massive difference in our daily function.

If you struggle to get enough sleep, consider the follow techniques:

Have a Sleep Schedule

Train yourself to go to bed at a specific hour every night and to get up at roughly the same time every morning. This habit will eventually condition your brain to make you feel tired at a certain hour and to get up at a specific time, which can help you avoid getting sleep deprived.

Avoid Blue Light an Hour Before Bed

People are glued to their tablets, computers, phones, and TV. This suppresses your brain’s production of melatonin, the brain chemical that makes us sleepy.

Cut Back on the Coffee

Some people love to have a cup of joe in the morning, but some are also highly sensitive to caffeine. So much so that a single cup in the morning can interfere with your sleep at night. If you are having trouble sleeping, see if caffeine is the problem by reducing the amount or avoiding the drink for a week and seeing what happens.

5. Socialize

Another technique when you want to learn how to improve memory recall is being with friends. There are all kinds of studies that highlight the benefits of being around friends, including the cognitive benefits of improving your mood and reducing your stress[5].

Start making friends and spending time together each week. After all, when we get older, we tend to narrow our circle of friends, and that, too, impacts our memory.

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6. Eat the Right Foods

Another way to improve memory recall and brain health is by eating the right foods. A healthy diet includes eating fruits and veggies, as well as whole grains. You also want protein, but make sure it is low on fat; examples are fish, beans, or skinless poultry.[6]

On the note of protein, it’s worth noting the types of fish worth eating. Studies showed that eating fish that are high in omega-3s is good for your brain.[7] Cold-water fish like salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, or halibut are excellent choices.

If you’re not a fan of fish, some alternatives are spinach, broccoli, pinto beans, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts, amongst others.

As I mentioned, alcohol can also impact your memory directly, as well as coffee to an indirect extent. My suggestion is to stick with water, and if you do want a bit of caffeine, consider tea.

7. Don’t Ignore Your Health Problems

Various health problems have an impact on our memory. While it’s obvious that we ought to deal with any health problems, we can find early signs.

Particular health problems that affect our memory include:

  • General heart problems: Cardiovascular diseases include high cholesterol and blood pressure. These have been linked to mild cognitive impairment and even dementia.[8]
  • Diabetes: Studies have also found those experiencing this have a greater cognitive decline than those who don’t.[9]
  • Hormone imbalance: From estrogen to testosterone and thyroid imbalance, hormone imbalance can contribute to memory loss in some fashion.[10]

Bottom Line

From what I’ve listed above, the techniques are quite straight forward. The tricky part is implementing these strategies into our lives. After all, these are habits, and some can take time to build as we learn how to improve memory recall.

Memory loss stems from our neglect of these habits or through other factors. To accept memory loss is to accept other memory loss problems into our lives like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

However, one piece of good news I’ll leave off with is that you don’t need to implement all of these. Adding even one or two of these techniques will change your life!

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More to Boost Your Memory

Featured photo credit: JESHOOTS.COM via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on August 11, 2021

23 Killer Sites for Free Online Education Anyone Can Use

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23 Killer Sites for Free Online Education Anyone Can Use

Whether you’re five or ninety five, the internet has a lot to offer. Particularly when the topic is education, the resources on the internet are endless. Best of all, many high quality sites are completely free. From history to coding, excellent, free online education awaits on the following 23 sites.

1. Coursera

Coursera is a website that partners with universities and organizations around the world. This brings a wide variety of topics and perspectives to one searchable database.

Coursera is a powerful tool for free online education and includes courses from many top universities, museums and trusts. This gives the site an extremely wide range of in-depth courses.

Coursera is extremely useful if you’re looking to study many different topics, or want courses from different schools and groups. However, the free courses are now quite limited, so you’ll have to

2. Khan Academy

Partnering with many post secondary schools, Khan Academy offers a useable, well-organized interface. Also curating many courses from around the web, Khan Academy offers impressive depth on many different subjects.

Among the more well-known educational sites, Khan Academy is also incredibly user-friendly, which may make it easier to keep learning goals. If you’re looking for a free online education, you can’t go wrong with Khan Academy.

3. Open Culture Online Courses

If you are struggling to find exactly the material you are looking for, try Open Culture’s listing of free online education courses. The page highlights 1000 lectures, videos, and podcasts from universities around the world.

The site features a lot of material found only on universities’ private sites, all in easy-to-browse categories. This means you can find hundreds of university courses without having to visit and search each university’s site.

Open Culture’s list features courses from England, Australia, Wales, and many state universities around the United States. It’s a very helpful resource for finding many courses in one area of study.

4. Udemy 

Udemy’s free courses are similar in concept to Coursera’s but additionally allows users to build custom courses from lessons.

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Working with many top professors and schools, the site mixes the customizable platform of other sites with a heavy emphasis on top-quality content. This is another site, however, that mixes free and paid content.

5. Lifehack Fast Track Class

Lifehack believes in skills that multiply your time, energy, and overall quality of life.

In this rapidly changing world, traditional education skills just don’t cut it anymore. You can’t afford to take years learning a skill you’ll never really practice. Besides offering some paid courses that will help you become a better self, it offers a list of free courses which aim to train some of the Core Life Multipliers including:

These are cross-functional skills that work across many aspects of life.

6. Academic Earth

Another site with courses from many different schools is Academic Earth. Much like the three sites above, Academic Earth brings together top notch courses from many different sources and focuses on offering a wide variety of subjects.

Academic Earth lists courses by subject and school, so it might be easier to find what you’re looking for.

7. edX

Another great option for free online education is edX. Also bringing together courses from many different schools, the site has impressive, quality information for everyone. edX covers a great range of topics from universities such as Harvard, MIT, and Berkeley, meaning a high-quality, free online education is entirely possible here.

8. Alison

Unlike the previous sites on this list, Alison is a free education site offering certification in some areas. Alison offers courses mainly in business, technology, and health, but also includes language learning courses.

It’s a great option if users need a professional certificate for their learning, as Alison also offers school curriculum courses.

9. iTunesU Free Courses

A very convenient place for free online education is iTunesU, because it integrates seamlessly with your iPod or any app-ready Apple mobile device. On an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, users download the iTunesU app.

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Desktop users can access iTunesU on the upper right hand corner of the iTunes Store. iTunesU is also convenient because the store is categorized much like iTunes.

Users can search learning materials in many different ways, including by genre and topic. However, courses are often a mix of free podcasts or videos and paid content.

iTunesU does include courses on a variety of topics, but it does not integrate with Android, Google or Windows mobile devices.

10. Stanford Online

Your hub for all the online offerings from Stanford University, Stanford Online offers self-paced and session-based courses. While Coursera features some courses from Stanford, many classes are only available via other hosts. Some courses require iTunes, but most are completed in your web browser.

Stanford Online is a great site for high-quality courses, though the topics are somewhat limited compared to sites partnered with more than one school. If you’re looking for free courses, make sure to mark the “free” option on the left-hand side.

11. Open Yale Courses

Open Yale Courses echoes Stanford Online, in that it offers only courses from Yale. While the site is similarly limited to topics taught at the school, Open Yale Courses offers a lot of videos of actual campus lectures. The availability of videos makes the site a great option if you’re looking for quality courses but learn better by watching than by reading.

12. UC Berkeley Class Central

Much like the other schools on this list, UC Berkeley has a variety of free online education options. The school has slightly fewer courses than the schools above, but it includes some supplementary lectures, webcasts, and RSS Feeds, making it easy to keep up with the topics you choose.

13. MIT OpenCourseWare

Similarly, MIT offers a variety of free courses. The school has a comparable number of courses to the schools above, and it includes very in-depth course materials on the subjects available. MIT also offers free RSS feeds, a convenient way to continue learning.

14. Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative

Carnegie Mellon’s free online education site is comparable with the other school’s on this list. However, Open Learning Initiative also covers a smaller range of topics, but for the topics that are covered, impressive, in-depth material is available.

15. Codecademy

Codecademy is a website dedicated specifically to teaching coding. Where other coding sites follow an example/practice session workflow, Codecademy includes a live practice window. This means you can practice coding while still viewing the lesson material.

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The courses at Codecademy are well-written and easy to follow, and the website is organized very nicely. Codecademy features a centralized dashboard where you can monitor your progress, and it organizes lessons into complete modules. This lets you learn an entire language without needing to pick the next course manually.

16. Code

Code is another website focused on coding and app writing. A site with high-quality courses, Code also features learning options for kids.

In addition to kid-friendly courses, Code offers free online education classes on a wide variety of technology topics. These classes include app writing, robotics, and Javascript.

Most of the courses are also geared in a such a way that they can be useful in a classroom setting. This makes Code a great resource for harder to find coding topics, as well as various learning settings.

17. University of Oxford Podcasts

The University of Oxford features many different podcasts. Most are public lecture series or lectures from visiting professors, with several different recordings available.

The advantage to this particular site is that podcasts are organized into series, making it easy to subscribe to multiple lectures on one topic. This is another great site for thoroughly in-depth lectures.

18. BBC Podcasts

For the more casual learner, the BBC offers a wide variety of podcasts on many different topics. Most podcasts are updated weekly and focus on everything from finance, to sports, to current events.

Through the World Service line of podcasts, there are also many in different languages. The focus of these podcasts are less in-depth and theory based, which may be more accessible to the average person.

19. TED-Ed

Another great destination for more general learning and free online education is TED-Ed. From the same people that brought you the all-encompassing, motivational web series comes a site chocked full of educational videos. Most include impressive animation, and all are ten minutes long or less.

Not only is TED-Ed an excellent site for the curious, but it also includes supplemental materials and quizzes on the videos. This makes the site extremely useful in formal education settings, as well as in entertaining ways to brush up on new discoveries and topics.

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20. LessonPaths

LessonPaths is another great tool for those looking for a more usable and convenient way to access learning material. On this site, users create link playlists of their favorite learning materials from other sites. Users then rank these collections, making it easy to find many different high-quality, accessible sources on a given topic.

21. Memrise

Another impressive free online education site offering ease of use and convenience is Memrise. Available both on desktop and as an app, Memrise is a particularly powerful tool if you are studying a language. The site encompasses many other topics as well, though some of the course material is user generated content.

Part of what makes Memrise special is their integration of games into the learning materials, mixing learning with entertainment.

22. National Geographic Kids

The kids site for National Geographic is another site that makes free online education applicable for younger users. For those looking for kid-friendly education, a large variety of games, puzzles, videos and photos keep kids interested on this site.

National Geographic Kids doesn’t organize learning into courses, making materials available by topic and medium instead. This makes National Geographic Kids a good option for those looking for a more casual learning environment.

23. Fun Brain

Fun Brain is another great option for kids looking for free online education, as it focuses on games and fun puzzles. Particularly focused on math and reading, Fun Brain’s game-based approach can be valuable if the child in question struggles to pay attention.

Fun Brain offers rewards and challenges as well, and it is another site aimed at a casual learning experience for kids K-8.

The Bottom Line

With so many amazing free online education resources, everyone has the ability to boost their skills and knowledge. Whether you’re interested in picking up some interesting trivia for your next party, improve your resume with some coding or business skills, or become a more well-rounded person, these resources are perfect for you.

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Featured photo credit: Dai KE via unsplash.com

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