Studying for an important exam? Preparing for a big presentation? Or mastering a speech that you need to give to your staff?
A good memory can help you do well in school and at work. But how do you sharpen your memory? It’s actually not about having a high IQ or a ‘gift’ for remembering names and facts. Everyone can have a good memory, if you just use these key skills.
Actually, our brains are wired to forget a lot of information. With all of the stimuli in the environment (and the information we get from TV, the internet, and conversations with friends) our brain needs to screen and ignore 99% of what it sees just to be able to function. It focuses on what matters, and promptly filters out the ‘White Noise’ of information that it interprets as irrelevant to the problem at hand.
So if you want to remember something, you have to consciously focus on it. Tell yourself, ‘This information is important.’ Try forming a question (kind of like giving a search dog a scent) so it actively looks for particular data.
When you’re tense or anxious, you have a harder time recalling information or even thinking clearly. Your mind goes blank. This often happens to students at an exam, or even professionals at important meetings.
Study relaxation techniques (like meditation or deep breathing) to help you relax when you’re in high pressure situations. IF you know you’re going to be nervous, memorize something that will jog your memory—usually just remembering the first phrase or the first word is enough to get you through that mental block. You can try a mnemonic device or just knowing, by heart, the first minute of a speech. Outlines or mind maps with key words can also help your recall. (Read our other tips on preparing for a test.)
Just repeating something to yourself, over and over again, can help you remember this information. Make reviewers or record tapes and listen to it again and again in the car. Practice saying it aloud as you go about your daily errands—while making breakfast, jogging, dressing up.
It’s easier to remember something if it’s connected to other things we know. For example, if you’re memorizing facts for a history test, you can make an analogy: ‘The political situation in the Europe before the Second World War was a lot like what was happening in Iraq…’ If you’re memorizing a speech for the company get-together, use your own personal anecdotes. Make the information as ‘close to home’ as possible.
photo from netsyscon4hr.wordpress.com