Memory is a weird and wonderful part of being alive. Sometimes it seems we remember all the unimportant, trivial things and forget all the important things!
Well, there are techniques to aid memory and make it more likely that you’ll remember what you desperately wish to recall. Some of these techniques are in use by the military, and proven beneficial. Here are four great ways to remember things.
- Bring it to mind just before you go to sleep. Memory researchers have discovered that thinking of something just before you fall into sleep is a powerful way to reinforce memory. For example, perhaps you want to remember to buy flowers for your spouse the next day when you’re in the supermarket. Well, before going to sleep, imagine yourself walking into the familiar supermarket; then imagine yourself picking up and smelling some flowers. The connection between the two imaginings is solidified while you’re sleeping – and when you walk into the supermarket the next day, you’re sure to think of flowers!
- Create a mental memory tree. This works best with a group of items that are related in some way, for instance the crops exported by a particular country. Instead of simply trying to memorize the list of individual items, think of each crop as hanging on one branch of a tree – perhaps the heavier items on the larger branches near the bottom and the lighter ones on the smaller branches near the top. In a day or two, you’ll find that bringing the tree to mind and thinking of each branch will retrieve from memory the names of most or all of the crops.
- Create a mnemonic association. We’ve all heard of this trick, which works well with names. If you have difficulty remembering the names of people you meet, take a moment to create some association with the name (which is easier with some names than others). For example, if you’re introduced to a Bill Guest, you could imagine him as a hotel worker who would “bill” a hotel “guest.” If you fix this idea in your mind for a moment, it’s very likely you’ll remember the hotel association and then the name the next time you see the person.
- Do a play-by-play. If you sometimes can’t remember whether you’ve completed some regular daily routine, this technique works well. For instance, if you tend to forget whether you’ve taken your morning pill, try talking through the action as you’re doing it: “I’m opening the pill bottle. I’m putting the pill on my tongue. I’m taking a sip of water.” It’s guaranteed that six hours later you’ll remember having taken the pill.
Memory can play tricks on us – but we can also play tricks on memory. These techniques should help anyone to remember a few very important things.