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10 Practical Tips on Improving Your Memory

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10 Practical Tips on Improving Your Memory

As long as there’s a scrap of paper to be written on, anything can be remembered. But why rely on writing everything down when there are easy, natural, and sometimes strange ways to improve your memory? These ten practical tips on improving your memory will definitely stimulate your brain.

1. Play brain games.

By the time you’re an adult, you probably have a routine carved out. Get up, go to work, come home, be with family. These habits work because you’ve done them over and over, and they use the same neural pathways in your brain. Shaking up this routine can stimulate your brain so it keeps developing. Find brain teasers, or do sudoku and crossword puzzles in the paper. There are an influx of websites and game cartridges that will help you use your brain in different ways. Brain games don’t have to be on a computer or handheld device! Taking a new way home from work, visiting different places over the weekend, and reading different types of books will also activate lesser-used areas of the brain. Anything that’s new, fun, and challenging will stimulate your brain.

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2. Eat brain foods.

Food is fuel for the body, and also fuels the brain! Eating a well-balanced diet will not only improve your memory‒it can reduce your risk of dementia in old age. Eat plenty of omega-3s, which can be found in a variety of fish. If you don’t like seafood, try eating more walnuts, spinach, broccoli, and kidney beans. Eat more fruits and vegetables; they’re packed with antioxidants that protect brain cells from damage.

3. Exercise.

Exercising keeps your body in shape, but it also keeps your brain healthy. Losing weight not only restores your body to how it used to look, it also improves your memory function. Walking six to nine miles a week, especially as you get older, helps preserve your memories. It’s been shown that, after nine years of this type of exercise, you’ll have more brain volume than someone who has led a more sedentary lifestyle.

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4. Get enough sleep.

It’s common sense that you need a certain amount of sleep to function every day, but did you know that sleep improves memory? It’s because your brain stays so busy, even while you’re asleep! The brain works on memories, even reorganizing them. Now some of your dreams make a little more sense, right?

5. Chew gum.

A study showed that chewing gum helped individuals stay more focused on a task. They also had improved short-term memory compared with those who didn’t chew gum. Just make sure your chewing doesn’t turn into annoying chomping‒that might disrupt others’ concentration!

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6. Manage stress levels.

Stress makes you feel strung out and hectic, but it also negatively impacts your brain. Over time, chronic stress kills brain cells and damages the hippocampus, the section of the brain that forms new memories and stores old ones.

7. Have a healthy iron level.

Iron deficiency can have adverse effects on brain function, including attention and memory issues. Studies have shown that people who have low iron levels and took memory tests took longer to finish these tests, as well as scored significantly lower than people with normal iron levels. Thankfully, taking an iron supplement easily reverses these negative points. In that same study, people who took supplements scored at a normal level just a couple of months later.

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8. Clench your right fist.

Sounds crazy simple, right? … Or just crazy. But a study was done showing that individuals who clenched their right fists while learning new material, then clenched their left fist when recalling that material, remembered more than groups who didn’t clench their fists at all.

9. Learn to focus.

Multitasking has always been hailed as a good thing, a trait that makes people more productive. But it’s not. Multitasking actually distracts your brain. Trying to juggle too many tasks at once prevents you from focusing on, and completing, one thing.

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10. Sip red wine.

Last but certainly not least! Don’t we always love a doctor-given reason to drink wine? Red wine is rich in resveratrol, which boosts blood flow in the brain and reduces risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Be sure you drink in moderation, since alcohol can kill brain cells. Doctors recommend one glass a day for women, and two for men. If you want to stay away from alcohol completely, resveratrol is also found in cranberry juice, grape juice, peanuts, and fresh grapes and berries.

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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