11 Easy Memory Hacks

By Damian Davila on 1 October 2014 0 comments

Every single day, week, and month you have to keep track of deadlines, appointments, numbers, and bills, and as you try to juggle so many things at the same time, you often cannot remember key things when you need them the most. It's time to stop lamenting your bad memory and do something about it. (See also: How to Improve Your Memory (And Maybe Even Get a Little Smarter))

Here are 11 easy lifehacks to boost your memory and improve your chances to recall key data.

1. Use the Visual Peg System

A great way to memorize phone numbers and numerical passwords, while keeping them private, is to associate each number to a visual "peg." For example, you can use rhyming pegs, such as hive for five and tree for three. By associating numbers with visual pegs, you can memorize numbers better and keep a card in your wallet with those passwords. No one else other than you is going to understand that a drawing of a vine, a hive, a tree, and a shoe stands for your PIN 9532.

2. Tell a Story

If you're terrible at remembering a list of errands or action items for the day, here is how to fix it. Tell yourself a short story involving those items. There are three important reasons why storytelling makes you more likely to remember that list:

  1. It grabs your attention, which is necessary for your brain to encode information.
     
  2. Provides action items to your working memory, increasing your chances of storing information.
     
  3. Facilitates repetition, which helps you retrieve the list of errands faster.

3. Say It Out Loud

Researchers have found that people who study a list of words by saying the words out loud have a better chance of remembering than those who read the same words silently. The science behind this memory hack is that by saying things out loud you are storing not only the written word but also the spoken word.

And you don't have to shout out loud; even whispering improves your chances of memorizing something.

4. Get Plenty of Sleep

There are many reasons why sleeping is good for you. Here is one more: sleep improves and strengthens your memory.

When you sleep, you tend to dream about things that are important to you. It is not a coincidence that you tend to dream about important upcoming events, such as a big project deadline or an upcoming baby shower that you're planning. This is your mind allowing you to focus on those events. (See also: 7 Ways to Sleep Better in Fewer Hours)

On top of sleeping more, you should also listen to music or audiobooks related to what you want remember during long snoozes or even short naps. Appropriate background noise doesn't disrupt sleep and helps you recall the info later.

5. Walk Six Miles a Week

If walking 10,000 steps a day sounds like too much work, how about just six miles a week?

A study has found that walking 72 blocks a week helps improve gray matter volume, which is necessary for good memory. An important note: 72 blocks is the sweet spot, walking more than that doesn't lead to greater gray matter.

6. Publicly Commit to Deadlines

By putting your reputation on the line, you increase your chances of remembering a deadline and committing to it. Having the threat of public shaming or disapproval works as a great motivator. You can publicly commit to a deadline in front of a group of peers or friends, but if you're really active on Facebook or Twitter, using those channels works just as well.

7. Ignore Stereotypes About Age and Memory

As you grow older, there are enough things to worry about. Worrying about your memory shouldn't be one of them. Older folks that are constantly reminded of stereotypes about age and memory fall victim to a self-fulfilling prophecy. Studies show that older people who pay attention to these stereotypes perform worse in memory tests. Keep your golden years truly golden by avoiding people that reinforce negative stereotypes about your age and ability to remember. This will not only keep you positive but also prevent any unnecessary memory handicaps.

8. Chew Gum for 30 Minutes

Chewing gum while performing a task allows you to better focus on a task and improve your ability to recall information from memory. Studies indicate that no fancy gum is needed — any will do. You have to chew the gum for at least 30 minutes while doing the task because the top benefits are reaped between the 20 and 30 minute time interval. (See also: 11 Surprising Benefits Of: Chewing Gum)

9. Clench Your Right Fist, Then Your Left

Get a grip on your memory by clenching the right fist at the right time. Australian scientists figured out that a mere 90 seconds of hand clenching improves the activity of your cerebral hemispheres. Boost your memory with this easy hack:

  • While memorizing something, clench your right fist.
  • When you need to recall that piece of information, clench your left fist.

10. Smell Rosemary

The scent of rosemary essential oil is a great memory booster. Studies have shown that inhaling this oil helps you remember events and be aware to complete tasks at particular times. Additionally, smelling rosemary essential oil has other health benefits, such as stress relief, immune system boost, and aid with respiratory diseases.

11. Get Offline

If you want to improve your chances of remembering something, close the computer and concentrate on memorizing. Our working memory can only carry up to three or four items. If you try to write an email, read Facebook posts, and remember the time that you have to pick up the cake from the bakery, you're setting yourself up for disaster. Not only will the person asking you to remember something appreciate the gesture, but also you will actually keep your promise to remember.

What are you favorite memory hacks? Don't forget to share them in comments!

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