Living in a microwave popcorn era ruled by social media and instant gratification, and trying to keep the unbelievable amount of information available to us daily, is about as easy as catching rain water with a teaspoon. Sure, you might retain some. But you’re bound to lose most of it.
With a mysterious organ like the brain, depositing valuable information into your memory bank takes patience and self-control. From clever tricks to subtle lifestyle changes, let’s take a look at some of the best methods to remember anything you learn. They can really take your memory to the next level.
- Memory Palaces
- Adequate Sleep
- Spaced Repetition
- One on One Private Tuition
The memory palace technique is an active process of combining locations with items in your mental inventory. This codes your brain into easily recalling information. You might want to help yourself remember names, languages, or academic material. Regardless, the memory palace technique can keep your mental agility sharp by attaching new information to familiar locations.
The perfect place to establish a memory palace is where you spend the most time. Certainly, for most people, this could be their home, job or all of the above. The foundation of the concept is to establish some structure to the free-flowing memories that cloud our minds. For some people, downloading all learned material into a textbook isn’t enough to stimulate them. Turning your environment into a memory palace can inspire you to engage with new information. Especially in a way that doesn’t feel like traditional nose-in-book learning.
A woman learning Spanish but struggling to memorise, could practice the memory palace technique by combining objects and places in her home with Spanish words/phrases they’re associated with. For example, for the front door, she may attach a post-it note with the spanish words for door, open, front or enter.
Acronyms have been an easy and reliable way to recall information for a long time. Since they are incredibly difficult to forget, it’s a tried and true method that keeps long-form information in neat and organised mental packages. Simply put, it’s way easier to remember NASA than the National Space and Aeronautics Administration.
Common acronyms taught in school are ROYGBIV (colours of the rainbow), or PEMDAS (order of operations). They gave us examples of how to creatively use the technique when memorising for exams and assignments. Furthermore, you can easily modify them to compliment any new information you’re trying to soak into your memory.
Now, this may be obvious and unsurprising. But the culture of night-owls and pulling all-nighters has seen plenty of people ignore the importance of a good night’s rest. Believe it or not, sleep is a very necessary method to remember things you learn. It’s as useful as active studying when trying to retain new information.
Sleep supports the second stage in storing memories known as “consolidation”. Without consolidation, recalling information accurately and creating links between memories is nearly impossible. If you cannot guarantee you’ll get your minimum eight hours of sleep, even naps as short as six minutes are proven to help boost your memory in a pinch.
Of course, the act of memorising is already quite stressful for the brain. Therefore, desperately overloading yourself with information without allowing yourself rest is a sure-fire way to keep you and your brain in a perpetual state of confusion. The exact opposite outcome of what learning should look like.
The concept of spaced repetition is a process built on your human ability to forget. It allows you to observe the time-frame where you’re most likely to forget information. Plus, test the full extent of your memory.
Spaced repetition is a timeless method that promotes the user’s long-term memory. It does this by encouraging you to recollect information in intervals just before you forget. The easiest way to practice is to use flash cards or modifying notifications on your smartphone that serve as reminders to test yourself.
For example, say you were revising information for your practical driving test. Every five minutes you tested yourself until you could confidently recall the information. You then repeat the same process while adjusting your time-frame, allowing more time between tests. The spaces between each test will grow. As would your capacity to remember what you learned. Until the information is eventually cemented into your memory. This is spaced repetition.
Meditation is like sleep without commitment. It is an extremely effective way to consolidate information while also supporting your brain’s ability to focus. Multiple studies have observed mindfulness meditation’s role in converting short-term memory into long-term memory. Researchers showcase how meditation allows your mind to concentrate on minor details that you may overlook over the course of a day.
Multiple research studies have shown a significant increase in the thickness of the Hippocampus (the area in the brain responsible for learning and memory) in participants who meditated daily over an eight week period. Sessions as short as ten minutes are proven to significantly improve brain function and the overall quality of memory in people who meditate daily.
Rhyming techniques are commonly known as one the most powerful memory devices. It is a fun and effective way to improve memory recall. Typically, we can recite a three minute song word for word. But we would struggle with random lists of five to six words. One of the fundamental reasons is behind this is that rhyming keeps information in our brain linked through sound.
Linking important words together with memorable rhymes is like creating a shortcut in your brain. One that can effortlessly keep track of specific memories. Let’s say you recently secured a new role in a new company and wish to limit the amount of times you forget a co-workers name. In this case, rhyming could be extremely helpful.
For example, you want to remember the name of your tall hypothetical co-worker named Stan. So, you could call him “Mountain man Stan” or “Six-Foot-Wingspan Stan”. No matter how silly and outlandish these rhymes can get, they consistently make memorising a more interesting and unique experience. So don’t underestimate their potency.
One on One Private Tuition
Another method to help you remember what you learn – one that some often overlook – is one on one tuition. Having someone with the knowledge and ability to deliver information coherently is arguably one of the most effective ways to retain key information. Learning is meant to be a collaborative experience. Having someone to relay information back and forth with can streamline the process of understanding what you wish to learn.
Thankfully, there has been a rise of online learning platforms like Learn&Co. Thus, anybody can conveniently access tuition. Tuition that promises reassurance by addressing concerns. Also, by providing insights catered to you and your individual needs.
Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to retaining information you’ve learned. Maintaining a healthy memory requires an active brain, taking care of yourself and genuine interest in what you want to learn. Remembering isn’t hard. Just using a few of these techniques could see a remarkable improvement in how your brain functions. Plus, keeping all the valuable information you need to make learning a positive experience.
Don’t be the one to miss out on brand new learning opportunities. Find out just how much these methods can help you remember anything you learn, with us at Learn&Co. Our top-shelf tutors specialise in keeping the learning experience light and digestible. For people of all ages and learning styles.