What did you eat for lunch on Tuesday? When’s your best friend’s birthday? Where did you go on vacation last summer?
That’s doesn’t necessarily mean you have a bad memory. It could simply be that you’re not using it right, says Annie Murphy Paul, blogger and author of “
The Cult of Personality Testing,” in a recent LinkedIn post.
Here are three strategies from cognitive science and psychology that may help you to remember better:
1. Be conscious of the limits and capacity of your “working memory.” That’s the “mental holding area that contains the facts and concepts you’re thinking about at any one time,” Murphy Paul explains. She says most humans can only store about four facts or ideas at a time in working memory, but we can pack more in by organising all information we need to remember into three or four categories.
2. Expose yourself to the information you need to remember in brief sessions, spaced out over time. This technique is far more effective than trying to cram a lot of information in a brief period of time. Murphy Paul suggests that you set your electronic calendar to send yourself a weekly or biweekly message containing the material you need to review.
3. Try to absorb what you need to remember using several learning styles. Murphy Paul says that while there’s little scientific evidence to support the idea that we have distinctive learning styles, “we do all learn and remember best when information is presented in multiple modalities.” The next time you need to remember something, read it out loud, watch a video about it on YouTube, and have someone else explain it verbally or act it out physically.
“The next time you complain about your ‘bad memory,’ remember that its only flaw may lie in the way you’re using it,” she concludes.
Click here to read the full LinkedIn post, which offers additional tips for sharpening your memory.
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