Make Memories Stick

Ditch the post-it notes and try these strategies to keep important facts from slipping your mind. 

Use Your Senses

When you’re laying down memory, use as many senses as you can. Years ago many primary school students easily memorized a long list of prepositions by learning to sing them to a familiar tune. They were processing input along several tracks at once: cognitive, visual, auditory and motor. After 50 years the memory is still there.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Repeated exposure strengthens the brain’s electrical pathways and greatly improves recall. Remember how many hours you spent memorizing multiplication tables? Give new learning the time it needs.

Put It in Context

Put new information in context. It’s much easier to remember something meaningful than something abstract or random. For the best retention, associate new learning with something you already know. The more linkages you develop around a piece of information, the greater the likelihood that one of them will jog your memory.

Sleep on It

Adequate sleep is important in two ways. First, your mind works much more effectively when you’re not tired. Secondly, preliminary research at Harvard Medical School indicates that most people need 6-8 hours of sleep-at least two cycles of deep sleep-per night, for their brain to go through the chemical changes needed to integrate new skills or facts into long-term memory.

Reduce Stress

Stress, whether in the form of anxiety or depression, can be a major impediment to your memory. It can interfere with concentration and weaken your motivation to learn. Become a Creature of Habit
Make things easy for yourself. Pick one spot to leave your glasses, keys and wallet. And park your car in the same general area whenever you go to the shopping centre.

Focus on One Thing

Focus on one thing at a time. Face it: you can’t remember every fact that comes your way. Decide what’s really important to remember and pay close attention when this new information is presented.

Be an Active Listener

Hearing is not the same thing as listening. Some people find it useful to jot down notes or ‘play back’ the gist of what they’ve just heard, as in ‘Let me see if I understand you correctly. You want me to…’

Eliminate Distractions

When you were younger, it may have been easy to study with the television on or with the radio blaring. Now that you’re older, you probably have to eliminate distractions for best mental performance. Some people find they need total quiet in order to concentrate.

Drink Plenty of Water

Make sure you’re getting a minimum of eight glasses a day, more if you drink caffeinated beverages. Dehydration can cause numerous problems, including an electrolyte imbalance that can affect your brain.

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