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8 Ways To Compensate For Your Terrible Memory

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8 Ways To Compensate For Your Terrible Memory

If you have been described as having the memory of a goldfish, then that is not a good sign. Furthermore, if you keep forgetting that your sunglasses are on your head, or worse, that your keys are in your hand, then you are really in need of this list of memory tricks. Save yourself the frustration of forgetfulness and start using these 8 ways to compensate for a terrible memory.

1. Sing a song

Even if you have a terrible memory, you will be surprised by how well you are able to sing along to that song on the radio. You may even have that song you absolutely hate stuck in your head right now; no matter how hard you try, it has made a permanent home in your head. With the addition of a melody, the brain has a better ability to retain words. Take a tune you love and replace the lyrics with whatever it is you are trying to remember

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2. Acrostics & Acronyms

You probably know what Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge stands for, as well as the FBI’s full title. Come up with your own acrostics and acronyms. The letters do not even have to make sense. The mere act of narrowing down your list to a few letters that you can string together is an incredibly helpful way to remember.

3. Mental pictures

The mind does better with visual memory than with auditory memory. Rather than try and remember simply what you hear, create visual pictures in your mind for the words and/or tasks that you are to knock off your to-do list.

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4. Set an alarm

Your alarm clock is not only good for getting you up in the morning. If there is something during the day that you need to be prompted about, set your alarm for that time. You most likely will forget to check the calendar on your phone during the day, so this is a great “third-party” assistant for your memory.

5. Password relief

Nothing is more frustrating that typing in the wrong password a bunch of times and then getting blocked from your account. Thankfully Safari and Google Chrome have password manager systems that will keep a hidden log of your usernames and passwords. Use these tools or keep a logbook of passwords near your computer to save yourself the frustration.

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6. Tell a story

A similar effect to song lyrics is the use of story. Everyone loves a good story. Go back to your childhood days and recover that highly imaginative mind. Create a story around the list of items or the tasks that you need to remember. The more vivid and ridiculous the better. Make your avocados eat a fish that is filled with bread to remember those three simple grocery items.

7. Write it down

Researchers have shown that students who take notes have a far better retention rate than those who simply sit and listen. The act of writing something down causes your mind to process the information and engage at a deeper level, thus strengthening your neural memory connections. Post-its are still ever-popular because they are so effective. Carry some small post-its or a notepad with you wherever you go.

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8. Novelty

You are probably very familiar with the old “string on the finger” trick that your grandparents swore by. The idea behind it is to create a novel trigger for you to remember what the task you intended was. Some people will put a little toy in their pocket, so that when they pull out Spiderman they are reminded about that phone call they need to make.

Give your brain a good piggy-back with these memory techniques today. You may even be surprised by how your memory gets stronger in the process.

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More by this author

Thai Nguyen

Thai's a Mindfulness-Meditation Coach, a 5-Star Chef and an International Kickboxer.

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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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