Do you want to memorize things faster?
How come you vividly remember the lyrics of that song you couldn’t stop listening to in college, but you’re having a hard time remembering the name of that restaurant you went to last week? As studies have shown, our brain has its own mechanism of making room for new memories to come. When our brain believes we do not need a piece of certain information, the storage process begins.
If we ever need to recall one particular memory, the brain knows where to find it. Summing it up, there are two types of memory: short-term memory and long-term memory. The thing is, the one we can count on the most is the long one, because it has lived in our minds for a longer time and it is already linked to a bunch of other information.
Supposing that you want to memorize better and faster, you’ll have to understand the mechanism of transforming short-term memory into long-term memory. This process is called memory consolidation. Let’s find out some methods that will help you memorize everything faster.
Sleep on it
Scientists have discovered that during our sleep, our brain’s activity is just as intense as when we are awake. The only difference between the awake state and sleep is that there are more stimuli for our brain to process when we are conscious. That is why, during an eventful situation or in case we need to learn something very quickly, it’s important to prioritize the correct amount of sleep.
It is a general belief, whatsoever, that after a minimum of 7 hours of sleep we are prone to making better decisions and understanding better any new information. If you avoid this advice, you will probably wake up with the well-known brain fog that you can’t wrap your head around, or have difficulty concentrating. After many years of studies, it has been discovered that good night sleep improves our abilities to recall any needed information.
The studies came in a response to understanding how big is the impact on our memory of the lack of sleep and rest, and the result is pretty astonishing. The study has concentrated on two different groups of Harvard students. The students were then divided into two timelines of the day: at 9 am, one of the groups had to memorize one set of words that were semantically related, while the other group had to learn another set of random words at 9 pm in the night.
Although sleep had no significant influence on the process of recalling the words, researchers have noticed that the 9 pm group remembered easier than the other one. The studies concluded that a good night sleep could minimize the chance of memory loss and improve your learning skills.
Write it down
In the times where we always have in our proximity any needed gadgets, why would you even consider writing anything ever again? And by all means, have you seen recently anyone to carry a little agenda and a pen wherever they go, when all you have to do is grab your phone and open notes?
Although writing down information has become less practical than typing it, the correct method that can help you memorize things faster would still be writing it down in the old fashioned way. Why is that?
When you write something down, whether we’re talking about a course or complicated directions of an address, you have to listen, understand and transcribe the information, all at once. As a consequence of technology entering our routine, we are prone to typing anything down to have the most accurate information needed.
But this process is killing our conceptual thinking because we no longer have the need to filter what we hear, we simply copy the words and transform them into written knowledge we are not actively understanding. The process of writing down what it’s been presented to you it’s called encoding.
It’s a complex process in which your brain receives the information from the speaker and summarizes it, giving away what you don’t need and emphasizing the crucial information. Because of this process, you understand better what it’s been said to you and the information remains in your brain for a longer time.
You know those situations when you are at a dinner with your friends, and they start arguing over a political matter? They have a heated conversation, every 5 minutes someone brings a new argument to the table and by the end of the conversation the subject might end with a conclusion or not.
Even though at the beginning of the conversation you were not very familiar with the subject, by the end of it you are actually able to intervene with your own opinion. Have you ever wondered how you did that? It’s called synthesizing the information, and it’s a beautiful technique our brain uses to perceive things better.
It is the healthiest and guaranteed method to use if you want to memorize anything because it relies completely on your ability to process information. There are 3 pivotal tips you can use to improve this method of memorizing, that you do without even realizing. First of all, you need to concentrate on the data that you want to understand and memorize.
This means, basically, ignoring anything else that might interfere with your attention on the subject. Going back to the example we’ve given before if your friends argue over politics, you need to concentrate on their opinions in order to choose a side! Secondly, you need to find out quickly which information is relevant to you. I mean, when you get a new job, which of the names you remember first, your boss’s or your colleagues?
Last but not the least, you’ll strengthen your memory over time and realize you’re getting better and better everyday and synthesizing information. Of course, this means investing everyday in the process by adding up brand new knowledge.
Learn the thing at the end and the beginning of the sentence
There is another method of memorizing things more quickly and organic, and it’s called the serial-position effect. Though it may sound horribly complicated, it’s not that bad and it’s actually efficient. This method was discovered by a German scientist, one of the first to study psychology, called Hermann Ebbinghaus.
He discovered that when in contact with a new sentence, the human brain instantly categorizes the first part and the last part of the sentence being better than the middle items, which are interpreted as worst. When asked to recall a list of things in any order, people tend to recall the things they heard the last.
To get to the point, you can use this method (I mean, it’s scientifically approved after all !) to memorize the things you want more efficiently. All you’d have to do is place the information you want to memorize at the beginning and the end of a sentence, and your brain will do the work!
Be careful not to mix information
Another thing you need to keep in mind about memorizing techniques is trying not to learn too much at once. From a scientific point of view, this advice comes from the theory of interference. Basically, it means that if your brain is deciphering a piece of information slightly similar to the one you already have in your memory, they’re gonna be mixed up.
Remember that episode in Friends, when Monica had to cook for a Thanksgiving 4 different types of mashed potatoes? She had to learn in a very short amount of time 4 different recipes to satisfy her friend’s wishes. But this doesn’t always work and you might end up confusing one recipe with another, and ending up cooking up for your strawberry allergic friend a strawberry pie!
All because your brain couldn’t handle the amount of information you gave to it all at once, so instead of a non-strawberry pie it can easily transform into an any-kind-of-fruits pie. That is why it is strongly recommended to take a break once in a while from all that learning and just take a breath or taking a walk outside. Anything else would do rather than stuffing your brain with too much information, all at once.
Talk to yourself
This trick has been proven to be very useful when you have early Alzheimer. Do you remember when you were little and your mother used to send you to pick up some groceries? Didn’t you use to repeat again and again on your way to the shop the list of things that you have to get? Well, luckily enough, this method that you used as a little kid can still be efficient now.
If you have something that needs to be done immediately and you are prone to forget by the time you get to the destination, just keep repeating in your mind the list of things or actions that need to be done and you’ll see how it works !
Build your Mind Palace
This next method might seem a little silly, but it’s actually extremely efficient. It’s called The Mind Palace. Basically, you have to create a space in your mind where you can storage all sorts of things. If you think about your house, don’t you have a visual representation of your kitchen or your bedroom? A special place where you keep the mail or the towels?
Well, the mind palace technique is very similar to that. For you to memorize better a certain information, you have to give it a meaning in your head. The mind palace is a virtual space or room in your mind that hosts all sort of stuff, you can arrange them as you want and where you want. If you ever need to remember something you might have forgotten, this might be the way to do it. Here are some ways to create your mind palace:
- First, you have to choose a place that you are very familiar with it. It might be the park next to your home, or your office.
- You have to create a map very well established, so you can follow the road in your mind palace and know where to find the info.
- You can try out with a simple list of groceries: try arranging them into your mind palace and see if you remember where to find them
- Take mental pictures with all objects in their places. Exaggerating those images might help.
Another efficient method used by many people with early Alzheimer is the method of chunking the words. Basically, the main principle is based on grouping the words that come from the same context or have the same pattern. For example, you can group a list of groceries by category, utility, color or even if they start with the same letter of the alphabet. It’s a scheme preferred by people who are more prone to be organized, though it is highly recommended for all kinds of situations. It helps you have a clear picture in your mind and a well-established memory.
Whether you believe it or not, our mind is naturally programmed to put data in groups with the same reference, so it might come easier to you to try this than you’d thought !
Make up stories
Once again, this trick might seem familiar to you. Have you ever had to explain a real-life situation to your children or your grandchildren? Isn’t it that in order to avoid any difficulty, you displayed the truth as a fantasy story?
Little lamb got lost in the woods and tried to remember the way back home to its mother. After a while, the little lamb remembered that it rained before leaving the herd, so he believed he’ll find the way back home if he looked for the soaked soil.
But did you know this memorizing technique might help you as well? Sometimes when we’re facing a new type of information and we don’t know where to put it, the best option is to make up a story for it. Apart from being quite creative, it might save you some time and energy from struggling to remember.
Use a tape recorder
To keep the spirit of real-life examples, have you ever noticed how fast it gets stuck in your head that new summer song? Have you ever wondered why is that happening? I know you did, but let me break it to you: our mind is likely to remember a piece of information if we hear it repeatedly. Although this trick is highly recommended for people that memorize audio information better, it can be used in any other circumstances.
Grab a tape recorder and record the information you need to memorize, and after that play it again a couple of times. It’s true it might be a little weird at first to hear your voice like that, you’ll soon get over it and start paying attention to what you’re hearing.
The main principle of this method is that it obliges your brain to do all types of memory work: you first have to understand the information, after that, you have to try it somewhere, then you repeat it loudly, only to hear it again and again. It’s guaranteed you’ll never forget anything again!
This one is easy as it gets. You’d probably have seen it thousands of times in the movies, where someone leaves a little note on the fridge with ”Don’t forget to take the trash outside” or “Don’t forget to smile today”.
Apart from being a well-known but ancient method of remembering daily tasks, we believe it’s highly underrated. I mean, all you have to do is to leave a note whenever you need to remember something. It can be a reminder to pick up the kids from piano class or to go to dinner with an old friend you encountered the other day. Whatever it might be, leaving around the house a sticky note can be a real lifesaver for your memory.
When you have a lot of things going in your mind, the last thing you want to do is memorize it all at once. Even though it is recommended to take a break from learning and focusing on other things, it’s not recommended to make use of multi-tasking. Our strong suggestion would be to leave aside any other tasks you might wanna do meanwhile, and concentrate on that one thing you want to memorize.
Studies have shown that multitasking is highly sabotaging our efficiency because it requires a certain level of concentration that we might need for something else. In the end, choose to do one thing at a time, and you’ll get the results you wished for!
Are you interested in a healthier way of living? Check out this informational article: 11 Amazing Salads You Can Make in 15 Minutes.