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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 May 22, 2019

The Pomodoro Technique: Is It Right for You to Boost Productivity?

The Pomodoro Technique: Is It Right for You to Boost Productivity?

If you spend any time at all researching life hacks, you’ve probably heard of the famous Pomodoro Technique.

Created in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro Technique is one of the more popular time management life hacks used today. But this method isn’t for everyone, and for every person who is a passionate adherent of the system, there is another person who is critical of the results.

Is the Pomodoro Technique right for you? It’s a matter of personal preference. But if you are curious about the benefits of using the technique, this article will break down the basic information you will need to decide if this technique is worth trying out.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management philosophy that aims to provide the user with maximum focus and creative freshness, thereby allowing them to complete projects faster with less mental fatigue.

The process is simple:

For every project throughout the day, you budget your time into short increments and take breaks periodically.

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You work for 25 minutes, then take break for five minutes.

Each 25-minute work period is called a “pomodoro”, named after the Italian word for tomato. Francesco Cirillo used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato as his personal timer, and thus the method’s name.

After four “pomodoros” have passed, (100 minutes of work time with 15 minutes of break time) you then take a 15-20 minute break.

Every time you finish a pomodoro, you mark your progress with an “X”, and note the number of times you had the impulse to procrastinate or switch gears to work on another task for each 25-minute chunk of time.

How the Pomodoro Technique boosts your productivity

Frequent breaks keep your mind fresh and focused. According to the official Pomodoro website, the system is easy to use and you will see results very quickly:

“You will probably begin to notice a difference in your work or study process within a day or two. True mastery of the technique takes from seven to twenty days of constant use.”

If you have a large and varied to-do list, using the Pomodoro Technique can help you crank through projects faster by forcing you to adhere to strict timing.

Watching the timer wind down can spur you to wrap up your current task more quickly, and spreading a task over two or three pomodoros can keep you from getting frustrated.

The constant timing of your activities makes you more accountable for your tasks and minimizes the time you spend procrastinating.

You’ll grow to “respect the tomato”, and that can help you to better handle your workload.

Successful people who love it

Steven Sande of The Unofficial Apple Weblog is a fan of the system, and has compiled a great list of Apple-compatible Pomodoro tools.

Before he started using the technique, he said,

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“Sometimes I couldn’t figure out how to organize a single day in my calendar, simply because I would jump around to all sorts of projects and never get even one of them accomplished.”

Another proponent of the Pomodoro Technique is Sue Shellenbarger of the Wall Street Journal. Shellenbarger tried out this system along with several other similar methods for time management, and said,

“It eased my anxiety over the passing of time and also made me more efficient; refreshed by breaks, for example, I halved the total time required to fact-check a column.”

Any cons for the Pomodoro Technique?

Despite the number of Pomodoro-heads out there, the system isn’t without its critics. Colin T. Miller, a Yahoo! employee and blogger, tried using the Pomodoro Technique and had some issues:[1]

“Pomodoros are an all or nothing affair. Either you work for 25 minutes straight to mark your X or you don’t complete a pomodoro. Since marking that X is the measurable sign of progress, you start to shy away from engaging in an activity if it won’t result in an X. For instance…meetings get in the way of pomodoros. Say I have a meeting set for 4:30pm. It is currently 4:10pm, meaning I only have 20 minutes between now and the meeting…In these instances I tend to not start a pomodoro because I won’t have enough time to complete it anyway.”

Another critic is Mario Fusco, who argues that the Pomodoro Technique is…well…sort of ridiculous:[2]

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“Aren’t we really able to keep ourselves concentrated without a timer ticketing on our desk?… Have you ever seen a civil engineer using a timer to keep his concentration while working on his projects?… I think that, like any other serious professional, I can stay concentrated on what I am doing for hours… Bring back your timer to your kitchen and start working in a more professional and effective way.”

Conclusion

One of the best things about the Pomodoro Technique is that it’s free. Yeah, you can fork over some bills to get a tomato-shaped timer if you want… or you can use any timer program on your computer or phone. So even if you try it and hate it, you haven’t lost any cash.

The process isn’t ideal for every person, or in any line of work. But if you need a systematic way to tackle your daily to-do list, the Pomodoro Technique may fit your needs.

If you want to learn more about the Pomodoro Technique, check out this article: How to Make the Pomodoro Technique More Productive

Reference

[1] Aspirations of a Software Developer: A Month of the Pomodoro Technique
[2] InfoQ: A Critique of the Pomodoro Technique

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