7 Tricks to Remembering Everything | Giftie Etcetera: 7 Tricks to Remembering Everything

Monday, January 26, 2015

7 Tricks to Remembering Everything

I have many of my friends completely fooled. They think I am way smarter than I actually am. (My kids and husband think that, too, though I suspect that my husband might be on to my little secret.)

Is this the point where I apologize to my friends for fooling them into thinking I am smart? Or, gasp, maybe this is the part where they admit that they always knew how dumb I really happen to be!

(Dear Friends, please lie to me, not just about my brilliance, but also about my singing voice and my looks. My ego is fragile. Sincerely, Giftie.)

Actually, I just tend to remember things. That doesn't take much brain power at all. The secret to remembering things? Memory tricks!

Improving Memory Recall Tricks Productivity
Memory Tricks: Remember Everything
Try these seven things and see if you can fool your friends, professors, bosses, clients, and family with your apparent genius.

1. Write Notes

Physically writing things down is actually important for recall. Yes, I do look at the notes later, which is the ultimate way to recall them, but even if I never look at what I wrote, I am much more likely to remember in the first place if I: took the time to listen; opened a planner, notebook, or my Surface Pro 3; grabbed a pen; and recreated the information on the page.

This works even if you never look at the page again, as long as the amount of information is limited. 

(For some of the more techno-savvy readers in my audience, typing might seem to do the same thing. If it's working for you, great. Don't change a thing. But studies do show that handwriting is more effective for memory creation.)

One reason I got a Surface Pro 3 is because of the ability to handwrite and not being limited to typing.

Handwriting Memory Pinterest Surface Pro 3 OneNote
Handwriting for Memory on my Surface Pro 3 in OneNote

2. Visualize

If I want to remember something, I take the time to visualize it. For example, in parking lots, I often look around and visualize myself walking back to my car.

TIP: Snapping a picture of the parking space on a smart phone works, too.

Another way to visualize is to make a crazy picture with the information. To remember that Giftie Etcetera is a website about planning and productivity, look at this picture again, this time as a smiley face, with the planner as the face, the glasses as the eyes, and the website address as the smile.

Memory Techniques Visualizing

3. Create Silly Connections

If I need to remember a list on the run, I often resort to silly connections. 

For example, "buy milk, eggs, stamps, and soda" might mean taking the first letters of the words, connecting them, and spelling MESS. 

Or I might make up a song. "I'm gonna buy buy buy buy some milk milk milk milk; I'm gonna buy buy buy buy some milk and eggs; I'm gonna buy buy buy buy some stamps, stamps, stamps; I'm gonna buy buy buy buy some stamps and soda."

(I would identify a tune for singing that song if I had any musical talent at all. I do not. No lies are going to change that reality!)

Maybe I create a story, where I throw eggs and sour milk at my enemies, while stamping my feet and chugging soda.

EXTRA CREDIT - Memory tricks are called mnemonics, and Trick #3 shows the most common examples of mnemonics.

4. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Notice that in my very bad song above, I repeated buy four times. That way, I remember I need four things. I also repeated some of the items on the list until I remembered them. And singing the song over and over makes me recall every word.

(Currently, I am memorizing all of Taylor Swift's latest CD. Yes, I'm forty years old. And I'm only a little bit ashamed.)

Repetition is a completely valid way to memorize, though I find that it works better for physical actions (e.g., putting the key on a hook by the door daily, and even going to correct myself if I forget, until I remember without thinking about it).

5. Work the Material

This one is especially good for students or someone doing a presentation, but if I work with material, I remember it. Outlining, self-testing, organizing the information, or making flowcharts often sets the memories in my brain, whether I intend to memorize the material or not.

The simpliest form of working the material is explaining it to someone. Teaching is, indeed, the highest form of learning.

6. Build a Routine

If I need to remember something on a regular basis, I build a routine by writing down the routine, practicing the routine, and, eventually, mastering the routine.

One concrete example of this is the way that I cook. I set up anything that takes time (e.g., boiling water, preheating oven), set out all ingredients with the stuff to be cooked first closest to the stove, and work to the outer edges of the set up raw food until I am done cooking. Once everything is cooking (with appropriate timers), I start cleaning during that "found time." Since I do this the same way every night, I rarely forget an ingredient or to cook a side dish or component.

Yes, at first, I wrote down that routine, but now I never have to look at it!

7. Associate with an Action

Finally, associating something that I want to remember with an action helps a ton!

For example, I process receipts when I plug in my cell phone upon returning home. I clean the kitchen while cooking. I take my meds when setting my alarm clock. I check my planner while drinking coffee.

These tricks work no matter your age - whether you are 4 or 40 - so try them and see if they improve your life.



Lorna said...

Great post! Thanks

Unknown said...

I have notes ALL over my computer! I don't know what I'd do without my planner, too!

pattygardner.com said...

I do some of those things, too.

I'm terrible at remembering names. So if I really want to remember, I practice saying the name over and over. Then I write the name in my planner with a brief description or fact to help me remember. Then every time I see them, I say their name in my head. It helps a lot!

Josh LaPorte said...

Folks have told me for years that writing things down helps you remember them, but for some reason it seems to be the opposite for me. It is as if, in writing something down, that I've given myself permission to NOT remember it because it is written. Constantly am asked about things and I don't remember anything but that I have something in my planner about it!