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14 Ways You Haven’t Tried To Improve Your Memory

14 Ways You Haven’t Tried To Improve Your Memory

We all deal with memory loss to some degree: some forget where they put their car keys, others forget why they went out shopping, while others even forget their names. In case you are not under a severe hangover or a student-with-sudden-memory-loss-due-to-exams, you need to identify the cause of your memory loss and combat it with proper, effective methods.

If you are found healthy and doing well, but still have problems recalling things, here are 14 effective and easy ways to improve memory and boost your academic/professional productivity.

Use mnemonics

hand mnemonic write

    As the computer uses binary code to store data and retrieve it in a user-friendly way, the human brain is recording data in a certain pattern, bringing it back later in a specific form. Mnemonics use exactly this feature and help you store information in a specific code, allowing you to recall it in a friendly form. Sounds complicated, right? Well, it is not. When you use a mnemonic you will use a simple rhyme or abbreviation to remember information. To do that you will use already known images, data, smells and other things to link new data to the old. For example, HOMES can stand for the names of the Great Lakes and it is easy to remember, so you would find it easier to remember Huron Ontario Michigan Erie Superior in this form, rather than individual lake names. A mnemonic can be anything, not only a word, so feel free to use your imagination and work your way up to master this memory improvement technique.

    Learn something new

    girl learning for improve memory

      Memory is like a car: if you don’t use it, you lose it. To improve memory and help your brain stay focused all the time, learn something new as frequently as possible. There is no recipe for a long life, but all people who lived more than the average had this one thing in common (among others, like a healthy diet): they used their mind all the time. Learn a new dance, a new language, a new game – anything appealing to you and it will help you improve your memory and acquire new skills in the process, as well as friends. And being social is very important as you are about to find out later in this article.

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      Get enough sleep

      cat sleeps to improve memory

        As keeping your mind active improves the pattern making function in your brain and keeps the neurons busy, sleep stores all the memories. As you fall asleep, the brain switches from the acquiring state to the storing state: during the rapid eye movement (REM) sleeping phase you classify all the events from that day and link them to other memories and knowledge you already have.

        Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, studied the process of brain loss in elders and found memory impairment is linked to poor sleep. At the same time, another study proved naps help children boost their learning power. Connecting the two results you have one major conclusion: you need to get enough sleep to boost your memory, no matter what age you are. This means you need eight hours of sleep as an adult, but depending on each individual, you may need a couple of more (or less) sleep hours. The best way to remember the information you need to learn is to review it just before you go to bed, as this will sediment all the data.

        Focus on fitness (and other exercises)

        girls running marathon

          A study conducted by Dr. David Jacobs at the University of Minnesota, concluded people who follow a regular cardio exercise routine in their young age have better memory in their middle ages, namely after the age of 45. This study is nothing new, as practicians all over the world already noted exercises like swimming, cardio fitness, running and other related exercises help people beat memory impairment in the long term. To improve your memory and keep your mind focused as you age, exercise your body, as well as your mind. You should pick cardio over other type of exercises, as increasing your heart rate increases blood flow towards the brain.

          Watch your diet

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          berry cupcakes

            The term “brain food” is not new: there are foods which improve your memory and keep your mind alert. A new study conducted at the University Hospital of Basel, Switzerland, showed green tea is one of these super-foods. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in nuts, ocean fish and olive oil were studied and proved to be effective memory enhancers, so eat those regularly. Other foods to include in your diet on a regular basis: eggs, tomatoes, red wine (use with caution), capers, blueberries and turmeric. Previous lesser known studies revealed that vanilla, rosemary and sage are also great aids when you are looking to improve memory. Vanilla is used in aromatherapy for memory enhancement. Chewing gum is another proven way to improve memory, as multiple studies revealed it increases your heart rate and releases certain scents, both of which trigger memories.

            Meditation and better breathing

            meditation statue

              Meditation is very popular these days, promoted as a wonder-cure, but there are real benefits you can enjoy. First, meditation can speed up your heart rate, thus, bringing more blood to the brain, which also brings more oxygen, making it function at top rates. Second, it helps you relax and focus on you for an hour, which has amazing long-term benefits for brain power, as well as overall health. Most meditation techniques and exercises include deep breathing which is another way to improve memory and relieve stress. By practicing it a couple of minutes a day, you will have better posture, a positive mood and you will feel more energetic. Plus, they are both FREE!

              Enjoy nature

              enjoy the nature to improve memory

                A walk in the great outdoors is very helpful when you look to improve memory and enhance your cognitive power. Researchers from the University of Michigan tested this theory on subjects who were asked to take a walk in nature, then remember a list of items. Another group was asked to walk in the city, then asked the same question. Those who enjoyed the walk in the garden had a better memory of the list by a staggering 20%. But researchers didn’t stop here: they put people to test again, this time showing them pictures with natural scenery and urban landscapes. Guess what: the results were the same! Next time you forget something, open your computer and watch green forest landscapes and your memory will come back.

                Play, play, play

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                playing chess on the beach

                  Computer games are great, but they hardly improve your cognitive functions. Logical and strategy games however, can help you improve memory and focus, while you also socialize and have a great time. The best picks in terms of memory games are chess, Sudoku and related games. The Gray cells in your brain will thank you for those gaming hours.

                  Use neuro-linguistic programming (NLP)

                  man levitating oranges

                    The concept of NLP is rather new, but it is very effective, as it can teach you how to overcome your limits. The basic logic behind NLP is that human limits are drawn by each individual, so they can be beaten by auto-suggestion. Spending time alone, asking yourself what is the cause of your memory loss and figuring put what you really, really want, may help you relieve memory loss and improve your brain power. This works pretty much the same way as a placebo. A study even showed people who were told repetitively that aging alters their memory actually scored lower than their counterparts, who were told there was no link between memory loss and the aging process. Meditation is a great prelude to NLP and they both work great with a better diet, aromatherapy and exercising.

                    Use your sense of smell

                    fragrance to improve memory

                      Perfumes are great not only because they smell good, but also because they help you remember things. Aromatherapy is one of the most accessible ways to improve memory. And there are many studies which proved it is highly effective: Saint Louis University School of Medicine from Missouri is the place where researchers tested the effectiveness of rosemary and peppermint. They used substances with the same antioxidants concentration on mice and found out rosemary increased the focus power and had positive effects for preventing memory loss due to aging. Peppermint had the same benefits, so next time you need to learn math, stock up on peppermint gum.

                      Press those buttons

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                      acupuncture doll

                        Acupuncture has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries, with excellent results in almost any field, so there is no surprise it works in improving memory. Each part of your body is crossed by nerves and energy channels. You can stimulate those points with the help of a very thin needle or by pressing them with your fingers. To stimulate your memory and bring back important information press your temples gently, but firmly with your fingers for a couple of seconds. This will relieve stress and help you remember where you put your car keys.

                        Visualize memories

                        visualize glasses

                          A study conducted at the University of Helsinki proved what many students already knew very well: humans have a powerful visual memory. Matching certain images with new information can help you access that information by seeing the image again. In other words, one can use a particular image to recall past events and data. This is why you get tears in the corner of your eye when you see your old skaters or view old photos.

                          Stop multitasking

                          One of the biggest lies in the history of human kind, in terms of productivity is multitasking. Despite the fact that all companies look for this skill in future employees, it actually cuts down a lot on the actual number and quality of things one can accomplish during a given time. To improve your memory and become productive stop doing more things at a time and start focusing on one thing on a time. Start your day with the most important task, then have a small break. Resume your work and at noon deal with the emails, leaving the simplest tasks for the last working hours. If you have meetings, schedule them at the first hour of the day, as waiting is a great memory stealer.

                          Get social

                          friends having fun

                            Socializing is great for your brain as well as overall mood. Never underestimate the power of a good talk, even if it isn’t very interesting. A simple gossip session can improve memory, as it stimulates multiple parts in the brain. To have great memory, you need to keep your synapses – the connection paths between the neurons – active and talking does exactly this. Moreover, you can pair other activities in this list with this last gem, to reap even more benefits from them.

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                            Last Updated on March 21, 2019

                            11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

                            11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

                            Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

                            You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

                            But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

                            To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

                            It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

                            “What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

                            The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

                            In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

                            Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

                            1. Start Small

                            The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

                            Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

                            Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

                            Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

                            Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

                            Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

                            It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

                            Do less today to do more in a year.

                            2. Stay Small

                            There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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                            But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

                            If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

                            When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

                            I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

                            Why?

                            Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

                            The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

                            Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

                            3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

                            No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

                            There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

                            What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

                            Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

                            This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

                            This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

                            4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

                            When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

                            There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

                            Peter Drucker said,

                            “What you track is what you do.”

                            So track it to do it — it really helps.

                            But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

                            5. Measure Once, Do Twice

                            Peter Drucker also said,

                            “What you measure is what you improve.”

                            So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

                            For reading, it’s 20 pages.
                            For writing, it’s 500 words.
                            For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
                            For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

                            Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

                            6. All Days Make a Difference

                            Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

                            Will two? They won’t.

                            Will three? They won’t.

                            Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

                            What happened? Which one made you fit?

                            The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

                            No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

                            7. They Are Never Fully Automated

                            Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

                            But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

                            What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

                            It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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                            The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

                            It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

                            It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

                            8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

                            Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

                            Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

                            When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

                            The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

                            Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

                            9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

                            The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

                            Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

                            You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

                            But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

                            So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

                            If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

                            This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

                            The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

                            Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

                            10. Punish Yourself

                            Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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                            I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

                            It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

                            You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

                            No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

                            The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

                            But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

                            11. Reward Yourself

                            When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

                            Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

                            The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

                            After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

                            If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

                            Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

                            If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

                            In the End, It Matters

                            What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

                            When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

                            And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

                            “Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

                            Keep going.

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                            More Resources to Help You Build Habits

                            Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

                            Reference

                            [1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
                            [2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
                            [3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
                            [4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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