A good memory can make the difference in many contexts; at school, university or work. Whether we want it or not, knowing how to memorise often keeps us out of trouble. How would you feel if you could prepare for an exam in just a few days? Memorise a work report in a handful of minutes? Remember the names of everyone you meet? (and you know how much this counts for interpersonal relationships).
How to memorise?
If you learned how to speed read, now it is time to improve your memory. There are 3 memory techniques for remembering more information in less time and forever.
Our brain is programmed to memorise millions of pieces of information every day, without us even realising it. This memorisation is immediate (around a millisecond) and permanent. But why can’t we remember small pieces of information?
Improving your own memory means being able to better access memories you already have.
Think of web 2.0: what was one of the most efficient techniques for cataloguing and organising millions of files uploaded by web users? Tags. Small keywords to associate to an image, an article or a video to identify them in the internet ocean.
There is a memorisation technique that uses so-called “mental tags”. This is how it works.
Every time you have to remember names, dates, numbers, facts or concepts, follow this strategy:
Sometimes you do not have enough time available to study or memorise. Maybe you have to prepare for an exam in a few days, or you have to remember important information without being able to write it down or… you simply want to remember the number of a girl you met at the club and your phone is dead!!!
In these cases you can use a technique called “immediate memory”. Here are the 5 stages to apply it:
Your grandfather remembers a poem learned in primary school and you discovered yesterday on Facebook the name of your classmate in secondary school? Remembering information for years is not so difficult, you just have to apply a simple technique of mental revision. It’s great if you want to learn how to study for A-level exams, university exams, or any other test that you will have in life:
These techniques were part of my university studying method; I’m certain that, if you know how to apply them with dedication, you will also attain surprising results.
Our lives are always full of distractions. Think about it, try to count how many times in one day your work or your leisure time are interrupted by the screen, TV, social networks, SMS, Whatsapp messages … Faced with our freelance commitments with deadlines looming, these deviations, distractions and time losses have a big negative impact on our actual ability to concentrate.
If all this leaves us with a lack of sleep, or a decrease in interest, staying focused on your ultimate goal can be very difficult. Fortunately for us, there are some simple techniques that can come to the rescue, small lifestyle changes that can make concentrating more easily achievable.
Faced with a large project, it is easy to lose sight of the ultimate goal. It is important to keep reminding yourself that every piece of work planned has to be accomplished. Never let up in the face of a possible bug, never forget your ultimate goal. Whether it’s a personal project or a project for a client, it is important to write up a general picture of the situation, developing each point step-by-step.
The really hard part is finding and maintaining concentration. Most of the time, it lives within your own state of mind. A small lifestyle change that you can test is trying to work early in the morning, with less distractions and a fresh mind. If this test is effective, try to carve out time for the most important steps at this time of day. If it isn’t the morning, try other times where you can combine these operations with your life, and most of the time you’ll have to compromise. This will create positive psychological routines, in order to focus the objectives that await us better.
Proper time management is a crucial step for staying focused on tasks. A heavy work load can discourage us before we start, and this daunting prospect is certainly not a good incentive to be productive. It is good to allocate the most important steps of a project to periods of time where you can make sure (or at least vaguely) = dedicate the right mental focus to it. To ensure that work is done properly and in order to give correct deadlines, it is good to draw up a series of deadlines by dividing up the steps of your project.
It might seem like a contradiction, but it is only by taking breaks that you will be able to maintain the right level of concentration. Every hour that passes in front of the video, you can and should take a 5 or 10 minute break, since it is necessary to rest and unwind. It is hard to stay focused for hours at a time and the quality of your work will always suffer. The mistake that we web workers often make is letting ourselves lazily surf the internet for a few minutes, thinking we will disconnect by visiting each social network or sports results websites. These are not real breaks, get up and leave the desk cyclically, look for a coffee or a healthy newspaper to read, even go outdoors.
Short breaks are designed to maintain high concentration all day, but it is advisable to define how longer breaks are different from others to avoid becoming automatons attached to the keyboard. Set aside a time of about 20 minutes in the middle of the day to have a healthy nap or simply lie down. These “half-asleep” activities can sometimes help you see issues from different perspectives, perhaps by finding the key to the problem right in the middle of your nap.
Even the most prepared and determined people can suffer from a certain lack of concentration. You may feel completely lost in front of a lack of inspiration or simply when you are unable to focus on a problem that needs to be solved. Some small good habits can make a difference, helping to encourage higher concentration thus bringing a higher level of quality to your projects and your own gratification.
University exams, job interviews, personal projects: in all these contexts, a trained brain is a critical factor of success. Logic, calculation skills, memory and attention are not innate gifts, but skills that you can develop with the correct training.
Here are five resources for training your brain, while having fun:
One of the most famous brain trainers on the Internet, Lumosity was developed by researchers at Stanford University. With 10 minutes’ training per day, thanks to targeted exercises, you will find your brain more responsive and lucid.
Unfortunately, Lumosity is not free, and you can try it for free for only 15 days; but quality often comes at a price.
2. Rapid mental calculation
One of the most effective exercises to keep your brain in good shape is rapid mental calculation. Calculators and computers have almost caused this skills of ours to disintegrate, but then we find ourselves clumsy when faced with a simple multiplication sum during a job interview! The Internet offers many free resources and techniques to develop your rapid mental calculation abilities. Here are a few:
3. Brain challenge
It has been shown that, to keep our brains in good health, 10 minutes a day is enough. Supermarket and post office queues; journeys on the train or bus; and, in general, anything considered “dead time”: these moments are perfect for your brain training. If you have an iPhone, you can use Brain challenge. This application for Apple products offers you dozens of exercises targeted to develop many mental abilities, with detailed graphics and excellent usability.
You know those cuboids of paper and card that you hated so much at school? Books are one of the best resources for expanding the horizons of your mind, keeping it fresh and responsive. A book can motivate you, can make you smile, can make you fall in love, can fascinate you, can make you dream and, above all, can make you grow.
5. Something new
If, in a few years’ time, you do not want to find yourself with two tired and bored neurons left, there is no better cure than doing something new every day. No one is suggesting that you should scale Everest on Thursday and surf in Brazil on Friday, but something small: change your route to work; talk with a new acquaintance; eat a dish you have never tried before; learn a new language; _____________ now start thinking of something new to do… and fill in the blank!
There are many ways to get the most out of our brain. You can improve your memory, increase your focus and concentration, enhance your creativity, strengthening your logical thinking. This can be done by young people, when brain capabilities are being developed through the creation of new connections between neurons, but it is a realistic goal even for those who are already adults.
Undeniably, the ageing process which every individual is subjected to implies a weakening of memory functions, so that many experience having difficulty in remembering names, places and things. This is a natural path and must be accepted with serenity. On the other hand young people and adults should have a memory that operates in an optimal manner.