The key to improving short term memory is intention. Here are some tips and techniques to get you started. In any given situation, if you perceive the circumstance or information to be important and you intend to recall it later, you can then make your choice to focus on it, interact with it to make it personally meaningful to you. This will take less effort to remember later.
Adding details and repetition are also some of the more usual ways to help you create a personal relationship with that piece of information or experience. You can add details through any of the five senses that is, adding visual, auditory, smell, taste or tactile cues to the information. By creating multiple links to the fact, you are adding a variety of access points to that which you want to remember.
In other ways, repetition is like a well-worn path which you walk over and over again. For example, memorizing the multiplication tables or the alphabet, or even simple tasks that we take for granted, like telling the time. There was a time in our forgotten past that our parents or teachers helped us with telling the time or the alphabets by drilling the information into us, through repetition. Like learning to ride a bicycle, the information is so ingrained in us that we do it on a subconscious level.
Using Mnemonics can also help you remember information better, like the abstract. For example, to remember the "classic" named colours of the spectrum or rainbow (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet), it can be easier for some people to remember the mnemonics "Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain" or "Roy G. Biv" (a made-up name) instead. You can also use a method, in reverse "VIBGYOR" pronounced "vib-GYOr".
Although we tend to remember less as we grow older, as the brain’s processing ability slows down, there is no reason we should not engage in mental activities like playing chess, scrabble, or solving puzzles to keep our mind’s sharp. Learning new strategies can also help the brain to cope with the slowing down and make you mentally-fit.
Here then are some tips on better short term memory.
Paying attention to details, staying alert, and being motivated to concentrate are all states of the mind. You don’t need to take a magic pill or go into deep meditation. All you need to do is to be self-aware of situations throughout the day and it will become a habit. Paying attention takes effort but the effort pays off most of the time. For example, most short term memory complaints have nothing to do with the actual ability of the brain to remember things. They arise from a person’s inability to pay attention on the situation at hand. Can’t remember where you left your keys? Simply pay attention to where you left it. As simple as this may sound, it takes frequent practice to make it a habit. Start your mental exercise in the morning, be aware of how you place your toothbrush, or tube of toothpaste in the morning. Then change it the day after, and try to remember later during the day.
Always focus on the task at hand and block out everything else. For example, if you are studying for a difficult subject, switch off your TV or radio. Any form of distraction will only serve to dilute what you need to remember. Need to write a compelling report or article? Close yourself up in room without any interruptions.
Develop A Plan:
Try to have a time gap in between when you have to learn large chunks of information. This is so that new information do not overlap each other. Having the habit of using mind maps can help you to summarize and recap what you have learnt in an easy-to-see and review plan. For example, when you are trying two new recipes at the same time for the first time, it’s harder to get them right. But if you master one before the other, you will have less difficulties remember the two down the road.
Use Your Imagination
You can remember things better if you attach meaning to them. Spending a little time to make the attachment can make it all worthwhile when you need less effort to recall them later. For example, when meeting new people for the first time, take note of what they are wearing, their facial features, hair, physical attributes etc. For example, a lady named Isabel wearing a red dress. Imagine a big red bell on a tower going ding, dong, ding-dong loudly. It’s A Bell! Difficult words and mathematical equations can similarly be recalled in the same way.
Develop A Habit:
Lets say you parked your car in a mult-level carpark. Make sure you remember which level you parked your car. Is there a nearby pillar? As you exit the carpark, turn around and take mental note of the view. Are there pipes running in a certain way or is there a fire-hose nearby? For example, you parked your car on Level 3 lot B. In your mind’s eye, remember 3 giant bananas. Developing a habit to remember where you place your keys, where you park your car etc, will help you make the most of your short term memory and the efforts are well worth it, considering the time wasted and exasperation you can face without a strategy.
Martin Mak is an memory expert and has developed a program to train your brain to improve memory and accelerate learning. Find out how with his free and popular ecourse at ->