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12 Simple Ways To Improve Your Memory

12 Simple Ways To Improve Your Memory

We all have our days of forgetfulness, but sometimes a bad memory can become frustrating, especially when key dates and important notices are forgotten.

Instead of just playing memory-promoting video games, there are also plenty of other everyday non-intrusive things that can be done to help improve that memory of yours.

Here are 12 simple ways to improve your memory:

1. Look At Nature

Whilst walking through nature may be more beneficial, there are also benefits to be had in just looking at images of nature. The process allows for your mind to de-clutter, which then helps with memory storage and processing, allowing for improved memory recall.

2. Exercise

Whilst we spend time focusing on our ab crunches, we rarely think about the benefits we are receiving on a cognitive level when it comes to exercise.

Studies have found that running increases levels of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which supports the health of current and existing neurons, whilst also helping with the creation of new cells.

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Weight lifting has been shown to increase levels of a protein known as insulin-like growth factor, which also promotes cell division and growth. It is also thought to help fragile new-born neurons survive their early stages.

Now you’ve got a double reason to hit the gym tomorrow!

3. Sleep

Rapid Eye Movement (REM) consists of four stages that help, in part, with the active state your body goes through during sleep:

  • Stage 1 – Your eyes are closed but you can be easily awoken.
  • Stage 2 – Light sleep that is accompanied by positive and negative waves, which represent muscle tone and muscle relaxation periods.
  • Stage 3 and 4 – Deep sleep stages, also known as deep-wave, or delta sleep.

The whole REM cycle is designed to regenerate tissue and strengthen the immune system. However, on a cognitive level the process is vital for the storage of information in the long-term memory.

A key factor with REM sleep is that it also places a bias on the information that caused more stress or has been repeated several times throughout the day. A key example would be the practice of a sport. If a move is repeated over and over again, a little of it goes into muscle memory during the event. The majority of the muscle memory is completed during REM sleep.

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4. Chew Gum

Whilst chewing gum doesn’t directly improve your memory, it does help your ability to focus and ultimately retain extra information.

Chewing gum has been known to boost mental alertness by 10% within individuals, which could be incredibly beneficial during a study session or lecture.

5. Music

What exercise does to our body, music does to our brains. Music “tones” the brain for auditory fitness. Music training tends to give you the ability to assess the relevance and predictability of an auditory signal, and this also includes speech. Because of this musicians have the ability to remember more auditory content.

6. Visualize

This is actually one of the secret methods that many of the World Champions of Memory use when attempting to memorize a deck of shuffled cards.

By simply associating key information with a memorable feature, person, action or color, you can begin to use memory recall for the memorable item, which then leads to the visualization of what it is you’re trying to remember.

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7. Doodle

This should be considered in much the same way as chewing gum: whilst it doesn’t directly influence memory or storage, it does help to make your mind stop wandering away from the primary task.

Even though an experiment that was conducted didn’t have any final, conclusive evidence, it did show that doodlers have 30% improved memory recall.

8. Drink Green Tea

Due to its key ingredient, an organic molecule called EGCG (an anti-oxidant that helps to combat age-related, degenerative illnesses), green tea has become a recommended beverage that people should consume multiple times a day.

For the full benefits of the anti-aging anti-oxidants, matcha tea, which is the full green tea leaf ground into a powder, contains 137 times more anti-oxidants than regular green tea and should also be considered as part of a daily diet.

9. Seek Help

The biggest strain on our cognitive functions are life stresses, including anxiety and anger. Both of these can cause the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory to degenerate. Another key problem that originates from these stresses is depression, which can sometimes be misdiagnosed since one of its symptoms is also an inability to concentrate.

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If you can find the source of your problems now and work to resolve them, you’ll be saving your cognitive functions long-term, as years down the track these stresses can have profound effects.

10. Stand Up

Ensure that you’re getting up and moving around throughout the day, especially whilst at work. Our bodies need oxygen to circulate through them to deliver our energy; however, when you’re in a seated position your body goes into a resting period. Our brain will go into momentary lapses of concentration after prolonged periods of sitting down.

11. Study Sessions

Rather than going into a marathon library session, it has been shown that by regularly studying in small chunks that include rest, people were able to remember more and also had improved memory recall.

Because the sessions are short and regular you then have the time to store and process the information during break periods. Long sessions with no rest don’t allow for proper memory process.

12. Learn Before Bedtime

The day has its distractions, and it tends to make learning and concentration an incredibly difficult task. However, if you fit in a study session or learning session right before bedtime, you’re unlikely to become distracted by everyday occurrences.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, 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.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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