10 Simple Tips to Improve Your Memory with Little Effort
These days, with all the information being thrown at us from every angle, it’s impossible to remember everything we learn.
But it doesn’t have to be this way! It turns out that there are several things you can do to make it easier to retain what you’re learning and even improve your memory over time.
Here are 10 tips that might change everything you know about learning anything faster!
1) Say loudly while learning
Research shows that simply speaking out loud—or sub-vocally if you’re feeling a little shy—while learning can dramatically improve memory.
In one study published in 2009, researchers found that subjects who were forced to read aloud remembered information 26 percent better than subjects who didn’t speak.
If memorizing lots of new information is a big part of your job (think legal assistants), it may be time to get used to talking to yourself and turn it into a habit.
The research found that learning via something called retrieval practice—in which you actively recall information in your mind, rather than simply reviewing it—is just as effective as restudying, even if you repeat retrieval practice only once.
2) Use Visual Cues
A study published in Neurobiology of Learning and Memory found that people who used visual cues to remember things remembered 15 percent more than people who used verbal cues.
In other words, don’t use mere rote memorization; instead, associate what you’re trying to learn or retain with a visual cue.
For example, if you need to remember your mother’s phone number, don’t just say it over and over again until it’s stuck in your memory; try drawing pictures of all 10 digits and associating each one with a picture.
With little effort and practice, you’ll find yourself remembering much more than ever before!
3) Teach someone else
If you want to remember something quickly, it’s a lot easier if you teach it to someone else. This is called elaborative encoding and is a really effective way of sticking information in your long-term memory.
For example, instead of just reading up on how to improve your memory. Try explaining some effective methods (after all, you now know exactly what they are!) so that they make sense in context. Then test yourself—can you recite them without referencing your notes? If not, then you haven’t really understood how they work; go back and find out more!
4) Get the Right Environment
With a simple tip or two, you can improve your memory and focus dramatically. Getting out of bed and into nature is incredibly effective. One study found that students who walked outside during breaks in between lectures remembered 50% more of what they had just learned.
If you can’t go outside, open a window and let some fresh air in—it has been proven to help memory retention by approximately 40%. An easy way to improve your concentration is by chewing gum – yes, chewing gum!
One study found that participants performed better on attention-related tasks when they chewed gum compared to those who didn’t chew at all.
Gum-chewing caused their heart rate and blood pressure to rise slightly which helped them pay more attention.
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5) Practice, Practice, Practice
It’s common sense that repetition is important for learning anything, whether it’s a new language or how to properly throw a football. It may seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget just how important practice is in regards to learning and improving your memory.
The more you do something, especially if you do it often, the better your brain will get at memorizing information and recalling facts quickly. To improve your memory as quickly as possible, practice every day on things you want to remember.
6) Test Yourself
Don’t wait until you need to know something before you start learning it. Start improving your memory and learning faster today by constantly testing yourself on things you want to learn or improve.
You can increase your retention of material by taking quick quizzes that test what you just learned, then testing yourself at periodic intervals over a longer period of time on things you’ve already been exposed to.
8) Drink Coffee (Seriously!)
If you’re up against a big deadline, make yourself a pot of coffee. People who drink at least three cups of coffee each day remember more words than those who don’t indulge as often.
Caffeine causes your brain to release norepinephrine and dopamine, two chemicals that may stimulate memory recall. It may also help block stress hormones that inhibit memory formation, according to Harvard Medical School.
7) Be Positive
When you’re studying for a test, reading for an exam, or trying to commit something to memory, set yourself up for success by first paying attention to your mood. If you’re in a bad mood or distracted when you begin working on improving your memory, then your efforts are going to be far less effective than if you were in a great mood and well-focused.
9) Reward Yourself
The brain loves incentives, so it’s no surprise that scientists have discovered that rewarding yourself for a job well done will help you remember new information.
Studies show that if you offer your brain even a small reward like an M&M for each set of facts you learn. you’ll remember about 40% more than if you hadn’t offered yourself any sort of incentive. Give it a try and see what happens!
10) Sleep Well Before Studying
Scientists have known for some time that a good night’s sleep improves memory and learning, but now they’re figuring out why.
In a recent study from MIT, researchers found that a poor night’s sleep can reduce levels of glutamate—an important neurotransmitter that helps new information stick in our minds.
What Does This Mean for You? If you want to improve your memory, then getting enough sleep is essential.