Our brains have limitless memory capacity. However, recall – actually accessing the information in our memories – is the sticking point.
Something as simple as remembering a name can show you're an active listener and be seen as a sign of respect. It can create a certain level of comfort, especially with someone you've just met, making it a helpful tool in forming new business relationships.
Some people may find that they remember visual information best, while others may find that they remember auditory information best. Some people seem to have a photographic memory and can remember everything they see.
However, it is possible to train your memory so you can remember more than you ever thought possible. There are also several apps and techniques that can help you remember almost anything.
Benefits of Memory Techniques
There are many benefits to building up your memory capacity. Here are a few:
Improved Work Performance
When you implement memory tricks in the workplace, you can better remember the information you need daily. This can help you be more efficient and make fewer mistakes.
Reduced Stress and Anxiety
Memory techniques can help you recall positive memories during a stressful situation to potentially reduce anxiety. When your nervous system is calmer, you can be more at ease and focus on the present moment to get through challenges.
You can gain great relationship-building benefits when you remember things about other people, especially specific details. This can make friends, family, and employees feel valued and appreciated.
7 Ways to Remember Things
If your memory could use a boost, you're in luck.
1. Use visual association.
This memory trick works for two reasons. We naturally remember visual cues better than words. Also, the more senses you involve in learning or storing something, the better you'll be at recalling it.
Say you need to remember to submit a proposal to a client by 10 a.m. You might commit your task to memory by visualizing your proposal on top of an alarm clock that reads "10 a.m." The trick here is to make the picture as vivid as possible. Imagine an alarm clock, with the time flashing and alarm blaring, and focus on it so that it becomes fully real in your mind.
2. Utilize the chunking technique.
The chunking technique is a memory trick our brains use to divide large pieces of information into smaller, more digestible units.
The three main stages of chunking include grouping, finding patterns, and organizing information by meaning. For example, you might better memorize a phone number in three separate chunks instead of one long string of numbers.
3. Stick to routines.
If you build a daily routine in areas where you lack memory recall, you'll probably remember things better. For example, if you have a terrible habit of misplacing your keys, try creating a routine of placing them on a hook right by your front door as soon as you get home.
We naturally remember visual cues better than words. The more senses you involve in learning or storing something, the better you'll be at recalling it.
Soon it will become a habit, and you'll always know where your keys are when you're heading out the door.
4. Use rhymes and songs as memory techniques.
Rhymes can be a powerful way to boost your memory. If I ask you where the rain in Spain stays, you might answer: "Mainly in the plain." If you saw My Fair Lady you're immediately recalling the song, "The Rain in Spain."
Creating your own quick and easy song to jog your memory can be helpful and fun. For example, you can create a song to remember a short list of tasks that you need to complete or a short grocery list. You can even make up short jingles when you learn new things for work or school, and it can help you remember details about people.
5. Use acronyms.
One popular technique is mnemonic devices. This technique involves creating a simple, memorable phrase or image to represent a larger piece of information. The phrase “Every good boy deserves fudge” can be used to remember the notes on the lines of the treble stave (E, G, B, D, F).
6. Use memory tricks to remember names.
If you remember a new acquaintance's or coworker's name, you demonstrate they are important to you. It's worth spending some time creating specific memory tricks to remember names, which can help people remember you in and outside the workplace.
Here are a few:
- Repeat a person's name back to them when they introduce themselves. Repetition helps embed new information into your mind. Repeat it more later, either aloud or directly, to help it stick.
- Focus on a few of the person's specific features that will help you remember them. Maybe Gayle wears glasses, or Barry has brown eyes. This is especially helpful if you meet more than one person with the same name. You can create the association and practice it in your mind.
- Another helpful strategy is to try to connect the new information to something you already know. This way, the new information is less isolated and easier to remember.
- Associate their name with something concrete from TV, history, or your personal experience. For example, when you meet someone named Richard for the first time, you might picture them with a crown on their head. When you meet a person named Helen, you imagine them on a ship laying siege to Troy.
7. Download an app to help you remember things.
Extra help remembering things is just a download away. There are several apps that can help improve your recall and keep important events and information in the palm of your hand.
Automation Apps & Devices
IFTT (If This Then That) is an app that can connect to other apps and help you establish a routine for yourself. For example, you can automatically schedule a "happy birthday" email or text to your contacts on their special day if they're set in your Google calendar. When something happens on one service, it can trigger an action to occur on another. It's like having a personal assistant. Similar apps include the Apple Shortcuts app and Automate for Android. You can also utilize various smart speakers to create automated routines in your home and office.
Password Storing Apps
There's no need to remember all of your passwords. This is where a password app can help. Apps like Google password manager, LastPass, and the iCloud Keychain can safely store information like your usernames, passwords, and Wi-Fi password. It can also store personal data like your name, address, and credit card information.
Evernote, Google Keep, and Apple Notes can be helpful for remembering things like grocery lists, birthdates, or notes. You can create checklists, save photos, and even scan documents in these applications. You can sync the app to your other devices like your iPad or laptop so you always have them with you.
While these tricks and tools can't guarantee a perfect memory, they can help you feel less stressed and more productive and at ease. You can start by trying one or two and seeing if it makes a difference.
A version of this article was originally published on September 05, 2013.
Photo: Getty Images