Memory makes up who we are as we move through our lives. It’s understandable, then, that retaining our precious memories is important. The good news is there are some ways to improve memory that we can all practise in our daily lives, which will help us keep hold of information for longer. These ways to improve memory can help stretch your mind, boost your mental abilities, help you study and even lead to a more fulfilled and happy life.
Here are five ways to improve memory.
- Ways to Improve Memory: Use Mnemonic Devices.
Simply put, mnemonics are devices that help you remember something through easy-to-remember prompts. ‘Richard of York gave battle in vain’ — to remember the colours of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet) — and ‘lefty loosey, righty tighty’ — to remember which way to turn screws — are prime examples.
Here’s another by which to remember the spelling of the word ‘mnemonic’:
You can make up your own for remembering anything. Rhyming words and sing-song are often effective tools in memorisation mnemonics.
The second of CoE’s best ways to improve memory is the Memory Palace, popularised by Sherlock Holmes and Hollywood depictions of mentalism. While they might make memory palaces seem complex, like most recall techniques, they are simply constructed using associations and prompts. In fact, your memory palace needn’t be a palace at all. It can be any location that you can picture in detail; a room in your house, your local library, or your office. You can even create a fictional location in which to store your memories.
When you have your place, you can use it to organise your memories. For example, you might choose to store knowledge on the planets – Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune – in a magazine rack. You could picture yourself adding the Leicester Mercury newspaper, followed by a copy of Vogue (for the V of Venus), the News of the World (or Earth), a Mars bar wrapper, and the Sun newspaper (the initials of which spell out Saturn, Uranus and Neptune). You can even add in a Disney comic featuring Pluto if you’d like to include the dwarf planet in your memory palace.
Yes, this may seem exhaustive when a simple mnemonic might enable the process of memorisation. But the benefits of having a memory palace are great. In principle, it is a never-ending space and thus your memory capacity, through the endless connections in your memory palace, is potentially unlimited. Likewise, the more you familiarise yourself with this memory system, the easier it is to store more information. Your magazine rack could be full of knowledge about space – at your fingertips for retrieval.
Forgetting someone’s name can cause a great deal of social embarrassment. Upon meeting a new potential friend, set an intention to remember their name, make a conscious effort to do so and concentrate hard on that detail. Try to repeat their name in conversation multiple times. Finally, use association to link their name to a memorable detail about them. You can even come up with a little mnemonic.
If you’re not numerically minded, worry not. There are ways to improve your memory for numbers by tapping into your talents for pictures instead. First, visualise the numbers from 0 to 9 as images in your mind. For example, the number zero could transform into a tennis ball, one might become a wand, and two might be represented by a swan. Repeat these until they feel like an innate language unique to you that you can recall with ease. If you have to pay a bill for the sum of £120, you can recall this otherwise generic number instead as an image in your mind of a magic wand held by a swan playing with a tennis ball.
Important dates can be tricky to remember — but they provide fun ways to improve memory that can be applied to other numerical situations. A top tip with dates is to drop the century and make up a mnemonic to remember the remaining years with confidence. For example, the Boston Tea Party happened in 1773. So, drop the century (which can be deduced with some level of logic) and memorise the year ‘73. We like the rhyme ‘heavenly tea’ to help recall this event. Try it with the American Civil War which began in 1861. So, drop the century and remember the ‘sticky gun’ which rhymes with the year ‘61.
Uncover More Ways to Improve Memory
Implementing ways to improve memory is a complex task that also requires a deep understanding of how the brain works, and how memory is encoded, stored, and transformed from short to long-term memory. If you would like to further your studies of the mind and harness even more ways to improve memory, our free diploma course is a great place to start. It covers the benefits of physical fitness, meditation, mindfulness and getting a good night’s sleep, visualisation, repetition, note-taking, chunking, numeric and alphabetic peg systems, false memories, and even exaggeration as a tool for remembering.