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Published on November 5, 2019

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

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

How to improve memory is a common question that’s brought up once we hit that 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 develop ourselves.[1]

True, as we get older, things don’t always work the way they are supposed to. But maybe we’re looking at this all wrong. Maybe it’s not because we’re getting older, but rather 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 to improve our learning and memory.

Why Is Our Memory Not Good Enough?

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 that stuff and it 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 is to get sleep. So it’s no surprise a lack of it will harm memory.
  • Depression and stress – Depression will normally cause people to lose focus and not pay much attention. This state of mind eventually turns to people losing their 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. Lack of which will cause memory loss.
  • 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.

How to improve memory can first be as simple as avoiding these causes and considering the following:

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These are all great things, but we can always do more. The number of causes of memory loss isn’t subject to those causes. There will still be lapses in memory and other factors.

Thankfully, the tactics I’ll share below will help in mitigating those factors.

How to Improve Memory 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 by this point, our brain has developed millions of neural pathways. These pathways give us the ability to process and recall information quickly. The speed in which we can solve problems, 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.

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

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“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 further you give your brain a workout the more 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. How 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. It takes exactly eight seconds of intense focus for us to fully process a piece of information and keep it to memory. So pay attention.
  • Tie information in with 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. The same can be said about the information on any subject.
  • Rehearse the 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

At the same time, research has shown that working out our bodies also promotes memory growth.[3] Specifically, exercising affects our plasticity. Plasticity is more or less the ability for our brain to change its structure as it develops and grows.

In other words, exercise can open our minds to changes. Not always dramatic changes but changes to our habits and routines as well. Exercising can also promote new neuronal connections which in turn help solidify new habits in the first place.

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 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. Not to mention there are some people who know this but simply can’t get good sleep for whatever reason.

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First off, 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.

That being said, some of us are in the camp where we can’t get enough sleep. In those cases, consider the follow techniques prior to sleep:

  • 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.
  • Avoid blue light for an hour before going to bed. People are glued to their tablets, computers, phones, and TV. This suppresses our brain’s production of melatonin – the brain drug that makes us sleepy.
  • Cut back on the coffee. Sure some 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 see what happens.

My other article about building a night routine can help you sleep better too: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

5. Socialize and Be with Others

Another way on how to improve memory is being with friends. There are all kinds of studies that highlight the benefits of being around friends;[5] most important is the cognitive benefits including improving your mood and reducing your stress.

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

6. Eat the Right Foods

Another way on how to improve memory is by having the right foods. I mentioned a diet above, but not the specifics of the diet. According to the Mayo Clinic, a healthy diet is 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. Research shows that eating fish that are high in omega-3 is good for your brain.[7] So coldwater fish like salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, or halibut are excellent choices.

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

Drinks also play a role as I mentioned, alcohol can 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. Some medications also affect our own memory even if they are designed to treat a particular health problem. 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.

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

But 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!

More to Boost Your Memory

Featured photo credit: JESHOOTS.COM via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

How Setting Personal Goals Makes You a Greater Achiever The Lifehack Show: Overcoming Anxiety Through Personal Agency with Dr. Paul Napper How to Delegate Tasks Effectively (Step-By-Step Guide) What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide) When You Never Stop Learning, These 5 Amazing Things Happen

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

10 Highly-Desired Skills You Can Acquire By Self-Learning

10 Highly-Desired Skills You Can Acquire By Self-Learning

When you look past the swarms of shallow content, the internet can be an extremely helpful database. Never before did we have access to such a vast amount of knowledge, and it is distributed for free. With the right sources, each and every one of us has an opportunity to acquire a decent level of expertise in any particular field. It is also worth mentioning how a lot of tutorials are now uploaded in video form, allowing us to learn much more efficiently, due to the fact that we retain more information from watching a video than from reading a book.

Passion for self-learning is truly great, since we are, in a way, always perfecting our skills and constantly improving. In addition to self-improvement, you can easily acquire useful skills, and become competent enough to earn a good income. Another advantage of self-learning is attention to detail. People who took the time to educate themselves about a certain topic did it because they loved it, and managed to turn their hobby into a professional skill. They are, in the majority of cases, their own boss. They take special care of their customers, and not because someone else ordered them to. Of course, sometimes your skill-set will require you to work for someone else in order to efficiently monetize it. However, thanks to self-learning, you may be able to advance to a better position within the company much easier.

Finally, even if you don’t have a passion for certain jobs, do not be afraid. When you fully invest your time and effort into mastering something, it eventually becomes interesting. As long as you advance at a normal pace, you are highly unlikely to back off from self-learning projects.

Here are some great suggestions of skills anyone can acquire, and in time make some profit within the next few years.

1. Become a self-made handy man

Due to the vast change in lifestyle, and various advancement in technology, modern job descriptions usually involve a lot of sitting and typing. It is quite rare to be a proficient handyman, considering how these skills were usually passed on from our mentors face-to-face. Moreover, our educational system has conditioned our minds to regard these professions as something only underachievers take up. This is wrong. These skills are actually essential for a normal life.

So, if the ambition of your parents stirred you in a different direction, and you had no chance to learn how to be a handyman, you can go through some tutorial videos to learn how to do some basic tasks. You can also learn how to repair items – as long as the job you have to do is simple enough.

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Once you have fully mastered your handyman skills, you can start charging for your services. Believe it or not, there are job platforms that are specifically designed for handyman and people who are in need of house projects.

2. Learn photo and video editing

The art of photography and video making are skills that will rarely be left underutilized. As long as you are creative, and have a sharp eye for aesthetics and composition, you can become extremely successful in this area. Once again, these skills are compatible with self-learning procedures. There are plenty of tutorials on how to manipulate videos and photography. If you don’t find this line of work appealing, or you don’t really like to pay attention to details, I strongly suggest that you do not attempt to master these skills, since the whole thing will start to irritate you pretty quickly.

Photo and video editing is extremely slow at the beginning. It is only once you are fully acquainted with the different software that you can do achieve greater speed and efficiency. Then again, you can grow to love these hobbies, since your progress is clearly visible, and you will always strive to bring your photography editing skills to the next level. Job platforms like Upwork or Elance are the best places to start you career as a freelancer. IT firms which develop games and posters are constantly employing people with these skills. When you look for a job, there is no need for prior academic qualifications. All you need to do is show the sample of your work. This is definitely a plus.

3. Learn how to blog or vlog

Blogging is a great hobby. If anything, you will hone your writing skills and find your particular style, allowing you to eventually advance to blogs of greater quality and higher authority. Bloggers are really popular, since they offer valuable insights, tips, and hacks for people who need them. In fact, the tutorial videos and articles that are mentioned here all come from bloggers and vloggers. Because of their usefulness, some become popular enough that they are approached by companies to do product reviews.

Now, becoming a minor celebrity is not easy, and relying on celebrity status to make a profit is foolish. Luckily, even regular bloggers with good writing skills are noticed. Their services are financed by small business owners, so you can easily operate within your own niche. Also, there are sites like CareerAddict that are willing to pay for a quality post, so you can build your portfolio and get paid in the process. When it comes to self-learning, I strongly recommend finding a niche you are comfortable with and blogging on the subjects that are close to heart.

When we see a channel with a ridiculous amount of subscribers, we always wonder if we could pull the same thing off. Making videos on a topic you love and getting money for it is a dream job, right? Well, you don’t have to be a professional in order to get there; however, solid video editing expertise is also required. You will also need to know how to be a good performer if you want to make your show more enticing.

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Another important aspect of blogging and vlogging is how you present the information that you have. You can be an expert data-wise, but if you are unable to efficiently transfer your knowledge or get your point across, you won’t be able to attract a massive audience audience.

4. Learn to be good at a particular video game

Becoming an active member of the gaming community can be a true gold mine. Personally, my dream was to get paid for playing video games, but realistically speaking, it would only result in me hating what I do for living, since it becomes your obligation and really takes all the fun out of it. Now that is only my opinion, plus it only applies to extremely popular games with competitive play, mostly MOBAs (like League of Legends and DOTA).

A great deal of people who stream their gameplay experience and make “Let’s Play” videos are making good profit out of the hobby. The website called Twitch is filled with streamers and some of them receive ridiculous amounts of money. However, you do not work for anybody. Basically, people donate their money as they watch you play. If you are considering this option, do not bother with mastering the games which are already popular, find what’s the upcoming trend in the industry and begin with it immediately. You’ll have the best chance of attracting visitors.

5. Software and hardware hacks

This one is really self-explanatory. We heavily rely on our computers, so both software and hardware problems present quite a challenge. Due to the sensitive nature of the stored data, we choose not to try anything, and immediately call for help. Well, self-learning can eliminate this feeling of powerlessness, and knowing your way around the brain of the computer will always be useful. This does not apply only to computers – smartphones, tablets, and consoles are devices that we use all the time and are afraid to fix ourselves.

In other words, buy an external hard drive and store all the essential documents there, so you’ll have no fear if something goes wrong. If or when something goes wrong with your PC or other device, just browse the web for help, people have definitely experienced the same problem before. Find solutions and try to fix it yourself. If you are going to pay someone to do it, attempt to fix it yourself first – you are already paying, so why not make it a learning experience.

I did not have much experience when it comes to PC problems, but have conducted more than enough experiments on my Xbox. I always used a forum for figuring out those problems. Trust me, once you are capable of fixing these problems you become a hero in your neighbourhood, and your reputations starts to spread. One day you can definitely charge for those services, or provide great tutorials on the topic.

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6. Become an expert on a particular subject

This one is closely connected to blogging and vlogging. A high level of expertise will be helpful, especially if you pick a field which was not explained thoroughly so far. Now it is also important how you present your subject matter, because if it isn’t fun, people won’t stay on your channel for long. This is what being an expert is all about. Finding the best way to explain something to someone who has no idea about the subject. We all love to learn, but if we are unable to understand the subject it becomes tedious. I recently started to watch crash courses on YouTube, and I was sad I did not have this during elementary school and high school. I found most of these subjects tedious, but now I just go through the videos one after another. I can’t help being amazed by how good they are.

Another good example of this sort of channel is Extra Credits. They are really good at giving tips for game design, as well as covering interesting events from history. In other words, find what you love, delve deep into that topic and provide some constructive criticism. You should try to incite good debates and introduce some new points of view. If you love a particular book series or TV series, express your theories or find other good fan theories, and make videos to incite engagement among the community. These kinds of efforts are always noticed, and people in a similar niche are always willing to help you get noticed. When it comes to self-learning these channels are outstanding and the community is indeed friendly.

Experts are always needed. By having proof of your expertise, you can find a job more easily. A lot of firms rely on their websites as marketing tools, but Google made sure that spam material is no longer regarded as a viable link. In other words, you need to have truly useful information on your site, the type of information an expert can provide. I recently stumbled upon a great blog on one website. You can actually find out a lot about law and rights and how it works. This is a topic people usually neglect to study, we only memorize a few rules which we see in crime and lawyer TV shows. There is another section about criminal psychology, which is a topic I personally find extremely interesting.

These were all examples how one topic can provide a myriad of unique content ideas for vlogging and blogging, as long as it is tackled in a correct manner. So, do your research, become an expert, show your expertise, and you will surely get noticed. Use the links as your guidelines to adequately transfer your knowledge on video or text.

7. Start inventing your own recipes

We have all seen those shows on 24 hour food channels, and yes a lot of meals look delicious, but when I look at all the ingredients they use, it just seems like too much trouble. Wouldn’t it be so much better if one could come up with a recipe for a delicious meal made out of things that are most commonly found in the fridge and cupboard. If there is one thing people love it is easy and delicious solutions, and this is quite hard to pull off.

You do not even have to be a professional cook to be famous, take a look at the Epic Meal Time channel. They rely on excessive use of bacon and other ingredients high in cholesterol, but their meals are simply awe-inspiring. You do not need to learn how to cook simply to have your own show, and there are many more advantages. Believe it or not, cooking can be helpful if you want to travel the world. There are many programs in search of cooks who are willing to prepare food for passengers on a cruise. The job is exhausting, but the pay is good. Plus, you get to visit all sorts of interesting locations.

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Cooking is one of the best examples of self-learning. After all,  you can’t become good from reading a recipe – you have to try it on your own, add a personal touch, and experiment with ingredients before you find the perfect balance. Here is a good place to start learning, it’s called the Cooking ChannelOnce you master some of the meals, you can add your personal touch to them.

8. Learn some artistic skills – illustration or photography

These skills are best combined with the previously mentioned photo and video editing. Being a designer and drawing what you want is great, but working for clients can be bothersome. It can be difficult to transfer someone else’s vision to the screen or a piece of paper. We live in the era of comic books, video games, and movies packed with special effects – good illustrators are always welcome. Once again, this is a dream big scenario, more down to Earth solutions include working for IT firms or designing covers for books and albums. Still, it is an impressive skill that can be attained through self-learning. Once again, rely on tutorials to aid you in your progress, and learn how to be a self-made graphic designer.

With all this new technology, photography is much easier now than it used be. Plus, with all the filters and different lenses, high quality photography takes up significantly less time. However, you’ll still need some sort of guide to get you started and a good camera, of course. After that, you can let your imagination and inner artist guide your actions. People are always willing to pay money for good photography. They need it for articles, blog posts, commercials, posters, web sites, etc. A good photographer is also hired to take pictures and record special events, making this another good choice for a self-learning career.

9. Learn how to code

If you know how to code, create, and maintain websites, you’ll have job in no time. It is hard to master, and will take some time. It is also not as interesting to master as other skills, but the pay is great. WordPress is the most learner-friendly platform. Everyone will tell you to start with this one if you are new to programming. In order to be good at coding you will need to learn programming languages, but after numerous drills, you’ll get a hang of it. I really love that one saying, “Programming is like writing a book… except if you miss out a single coma on page 126 the whole thing make no sense.” Unfortunately, this is quite true, and once you start learning you’ll see why people pay good money for this job. It’s not impossible to learn on your own, but buckle up for one uncomfortable ride.

Also, coding will not get the job done on its own. You’ll need to be a solid web designer to create a website that someone would buy. We have all seen poorly designed sites and did not bother to check what they were about, since no one is impressed with sloppy work. Once you master coding, go through some web design guides, and build your own website as a portfolio. You can start as a freelancer, and you’ll be able to find a job offer rather quickly. In other words, if you are looking for a high-paying self-learning skill to master, you can’t possibly go wrong with this one.

10. Learn how to present what you are capable of

Finally, in order to get the job and be chosen over your competitors, you’ll have to know how to present yourself. After all, you only got one shot at a first impression. Find out how to build your resume, find out what is required of you as an employee, and how to adequately express yourself during a job interview. You can be brilliant, but if you lack certain qualities of a good employee, you’ll have a hard time monetizing your skill-set. We commonly feel nervous during these situations. However, if you can manage to navigate through the interview correctly, you can score your first job.

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