How can you remember things better than your friends and colleagues? Why are some people better at memorizing things compared to others? Do you have any secret tips for boosting your memory?
As much as we hate to admit it, some people can remember almost anything in detail and better than most people. What’s the secret to memorizing things quicker than others? Or even just having a better memory?
But how exactly do they do it? Is it just something that you either have or don’t have? What if we told you that there are certain things you can do to boost your memory and memorize things faster? Would you be interested in finding out what those things are? Great! Let’s start with the basics. We’ll also look at the psychology behind why these tactics work and the science behind learning in general, so let’s get started!
Is there science behind forgetting things?
Scientists have found that information is stored in cells in different parts of your brain, and all these little bits of information are filed away by making associations between things. When you forget something, it’s often because you can’t find a mental hook to tie together everything you need to recall. Our brains are filled with all sorts of connections, so it’s simply a matter of relearning those links and boosting your memory power.
Forgetting is a natural process
Forgetting something is a natural process that happens to every human being. Our brains have a finite amount of storage space to keep information. If too much new data comes in, we tend to forget things that are no longer needed.
In 2008, Pam Mueller from Princeton University and Daniel Oppenheimer of UCLA published a study showing that, while people are still in a position to memorize something, they stop trying because they think they won’t be able to.
If you want to memorize something right away, you have to make a conscious effort to remember it and not forget it. The more time passes by after you hear or read something, though, the less likely you will remember it.
Hacks and tips to help you memorize easily
As most people know, learning something like a new language or playing an instrument can be difficult, but it is not impossible. If you want to learn something quickly and never forget it, you can take a few steps. By implementing these methods into your day, week, and life, you will see a boost in your memory. People tend to forget things when they least expect them because of multiple distractions coming their way at once.
Pay attention to relevant pieces of information
The key to retaining new facts or skills is paying attention while they’re being presented; if you tune out or get distracted while listening to instructions (like what to do at work), you’ll lose focus on essential points. While working through anything new—whether it’s during training at work or learning Spanish as a foreign language—you should practice focusing on whatever instructions come next without letting yourself get distracted.
Take time for yourself
This may sound cliché, but think about all of the responsibilities you have right now and how many different times during a day someone else tells you what to do or reminds you of what needs to be done.
Get rid of important tasks first so that you can take out time to memorize in peace.
You can easily get distracted by friends calling on your cell phone while trying to memorize vocabulary words, emails popping up constantly while studying for that big test next week, etc. There’s always something distracting us from our primary focus, even if we don’t realize it!
Try to understand what you learn
As strange as it may sound, learning stuff better is a matter of trying to figure out how and why something works. If you can try and relate something to an experience or previous knowledge, then your brain will be forced to remember it better. You’ll be able to recall it later much more quickly. It’s sort of like connecting new ideas with ones already in place.
Remember the first and last items in a series
The next time you need to memorize some information for an exam, give yourself every possible advantage. Because there’s something called the serial position effect, in short, if presented with a list of words and asked to recall them after some time has passed (such as an hour), people tend to remember items at either end (e.g., first and last) more than items in the middle of said list.
Similar patterns interfere with the memory
It’s pretty simple in concept (interference theory); for any skill you want to master, the practice needs to occur outside of when/where you usually use it. Does walking around your house all day before a history test make sense? Of course not! And the chances are that practice at home (where one moves slowly and focuses on fine motor skills) won’t help boost memory. One tends to remember the best things done outside their comfort zone—under conditions where performance matters most. Try a new pattern.
Learn the opposite of things
Mnemonics work by relating something easy to remember (an acronym, sentence, or image) with something hard to remember (information). Our brains love pattern recognition, so if we couple two things that aren’t commonly associated together, they stand out more to us. In other words, if you want a trick to stick, make sure it makes no sense whatsoever, thus helping both parts of the info become memorable.
Bonus tips to learn things quickly:
- Avoid multitasking. Do not move to a new section until you have memorized the old one properly.
- Learn things as if you have to teach it to someone else later.
- Listen to things repeatedly. Skip if this doesn't work for you.
- Don't rush while writing notes. Write it down in good handwriting, this will make you focus more on the words.
- Take breaks whenever necessary, don't bombard yourself with a lot altogether.
- Try to transform what you learned, visually. Try to make funny drawings or figures that help you remember the learning in an interesting way.
- Learn new skills/languages to boost your cognitive abilities.
- If one pattern isn't working for you, change your learning style.
- Make sure you are getting 7-8 hours of sleep.
- Exercise more to keep your brain active.
- Make sure to munch on memory-boosting foods, omega 3 supplements and stick to a healthy diet.
- Make use of technology to understand things better. Watch YouTube, for instance.
- Try meditating and practicing mindfulness to improve your focus.
- Try the double alphabet technique: A = Apple | Ab = Abacus | Ac = Accountant | Ad = Addiction
Related: Why can't I focus?
Focus is a key to memorizing things quickly. It's a three R journey:
Beginners in memorizing often get frustrated when they can’t remember things independently. But by following some tips and secrets to memorizing, you can boost your memory tremendously.
The techniques suggested in this article work wonders and will make learning easier for you than you ever thought it could be. You’ll discover that, with a bit of practice, you’ll be able to learn faster than ever before!