14 Best Ways To Improve Your Memory In The Age Of Distractions
Many of the things you call memory problems, such as forgetting your phone on the nightstand or losing your car keys, are pretty normal and can be solved with some better memory strategies. The problem is that, thanks to smartphones, humans today have shorter attention span than a goldfish. There was even a research in Canada which showed that the average human attention span today is only 8 seconds. This means that I have probably lost you after my first sentence, but I will continue anyway.
Luckily, there are some simple life habits you can develop to improve your memory in the age of distractions.
Here is what you need to do:
1. Sleep Right.
Go to sleep early. That means go to bed around 10 PM and wake up at 6 AM. I know that there’s been lot of talk about how much we actually need to sleep, but trust me, get a good 8 hour sleep if you want to have a good memory. If you’re used to going to bed late and you don’t feel sleepy at 10 PM, just go to your bed anyway. You can start reading some boring technical book that will definitely make you drowsy. Works for me every time. Keep doing this continuously and you will get the habit of sleeping right every night. Also, wake up at the same time every day. Trust me, this is one of the best ways to improve your memory. At least most important one.
2. Eat Good Breakfast.
Eat a good breakfast every day. Avoiding excessive carbohydrates and sugar, especially soon after waking. Completely eliminate trans fat. Your brain consists of good fats to protect your neurons. Trans-fat is the bad kind that will replace the good fats in your brain. This will severely hinder the functionality of your neurons. So, ditch the fast foods!
3. Manage Your Stress
Stress can be really bad for you, so you need to know how to manage it. Humans are the only mammal that can experience stress from thoughts alone which can even lead to chronic stress. Best way to manage your stress is to eliminate any sources of it. Obviously this isn’t always possible, so at the very least, find a constructive release. Try a cool hobby that will calm you.
4. Solve Mathematical Problems.
Engage in mentally tedious tasks. Make habit of solving mathematical problems every day. You can even play mental exercise games like Luminosity on your phone. Better than Facebook!
5. Build a Memory Palace.
This is a thousand year old trick that is one of the best ways to improve your memory. The theory is, that it is easier to recall something if you have visual memories about it, even if the visualized memory is not actually real.
6. Meditate Daily.
Start small and meditate for one minute in the first week. Do it no matter how many thoughts intrude your brain in that one minute. Just keep going, because being thoughtless is not really the aim of meditation. It is the pinnacle of practicing meditation.
7. Read Relevant Books.
Read books about memory and thinking skills. For example, Edward De Bono: The Six Thinking Hats or Joseph O’Connor: The Art of Systems Thinking: Essential Skills for Creativity and Problem Solving. You can also follow interesting exercises in Betty Edwards: Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.
8. Enjoy Nature.
Nature has a magical effect on humans and one of it’s beneficial effects to us is improving our memory. In one study people who walked around an arboretum did 20 percent better on a memory test than those who went for a walk around busy streets. Interesting, isn’t it? If it’s a problem for you to leave the house, don’t worry. Although the effects aren’t as powerful as when you’re out camping in the nature, you can just look at pictures of nature.
Don’t say you can’t, because this is really important. Exercising will release brain chemicals to help you focus. So, go running. This is one of best ways to improve your memory.
10. Reduce Your Distractions.
Try reducing all the distractions. Allocate few hours every day where all your notifications are off. That means no emails, no Facebook, no Twitter. Don’t read blogs that helps you with memory improvement!
11. Stop Memorizing Junk.
There is a lot of junk in our lives that we need to remember every day. We need to remember to do the laundry, clean the garage, buy some stamps, write a thank you note. These are minor junk things that you shouldn’t be wasting your precious time trying to keep them in short term memory. Don’t waste you brain capacity trying to track all these things. But how to remember them then? Make a to-do list and make that a part of your normal schedule.
These days we are filling our lives up with different distractions, such as social media. We are dividing our attention and then wonder why we can’t hold onto information for long periods of time. When you multitask, you divide your attention between two (or more) things and you will never be as effective as focusing on only one thing at a time. Monotasking is a new multitasking.
13. The 30 Seconds Rule
Saying ideas aloud in our own words is probably the most powerful tool we have to transfer information from short-term to long-term memory. So, just repeat everything you’ve learned aloud. This was my favorite method when I was a student.
So, these are 14 simple habits, methods and strategies that you can use to improve your memory in these days when distractions are all around us. Try it. What can you lose?