The human brain is a fickle thing. It’s imperfect and susceptible to change. For this reason, it’s important to keep it as healthy as possible to allow it to function at its best. This is especially true for the memory, which affects our beliefs, mindset and day-to-day activities. Using these twelve tips and tricks for how to improve your memory will allow you have the best memory you can.
1. Write it down
Writing is an action that involves concentration, hand motions and careful movements. On top of that, the rise of computers and keyboards has made the traditional pencil and pen-work rather rare now. The fact that you’re doing it signals to the brain that the subject matter is important, making it more likely that you’ll remember it later on.
2. Associate it with something
One of the oldest tricks for how to improve your memory, and one that’s popular in educational settings is to pair knowledge with one of your senses. For example, smelling a certain fragrance while studying will create a connection in your head. This will make re-smelling that scent help you recall the information you want to remember. This works with taste, touch and the other senses as well as location and environment.
3. Focus on what’s important
If you’re memorizing large amounts of text, this is one of the best methods to use. Take a highlighter and search for the main points and any details that are crucial to your understanding. That way you’ll be utilizing the writing technique as well as this one. Study what you highlighted as it’ll be much easier than cramming in the whole text.
4. Focus on your material in general
Don’t attempt to multitask; leave aside all other activities and give all your attention to memorizing your material. Put it off until you can do this if you need to, but be sure not to fall into a procrastination hole. Set a time to start and stick to it.
5. Get some exercise
It’s well-known that thirty minutes of exercise a day is good for the body. But it also gets blood circulating to the brain, making you more alert and making it easier to remember important information. Even light exercise helps and can be a good starter for more intense activity, if you’d prefer.
6. Eat brain food
There’s no specific food that’ll target your brain and help with how to improve your memory, but there are various foods you can eat that’ll make it more active. These include but are not limited to: fruits (due to their abundance in glucose), salmon (due to its abundance in omega-3), leafy greens (for their antioxidants), chocolate (also for antioxidants), chewing gum (for maintaining attention by keeping the mouth busy) and more. A good diet in general leads to a better brain but these foods will discernibly help.
7. Have a good sleep schedule
Getting a good night of sleep is imperative to memorizing any important information. For one thing, sleep improves brain function right off the bat. But having a consistent amount of sleep is correlated with increased focus, increased energy and, therefore, increased brain activity. If you need a reason to fix your bad sleeping habits, take this one.
8. Repetition, repetition, repetition!
Human brains are hardwired to treat things which happen more often as having greater importance than things that happen rarely. This was good for our survival but can be equally helpful for how to improve your memory. The more often you encounter information, the more likely you are to keep it in mind. For this reason, it’s necessary that you learn and re-learn it so that it has a better chance of sticking in your brain.
9. Find patterns in the info
Just like the human brain is wired to recognize repetition, it’s also designed to recognize patterns. If you can find something repetitive or repeated in what you’re trying to memorize, that will definitely help. If there is none, assemble it in a repetitive way. For example, make multiple flashcards or stick a sign with info on it in a place you frequent. The exposure to it more than once will signal to your brain that this needs to be remembered.
10. Follow your learning style
Do you learn best in a laid-back environment or a structured one? Do you learn best by viewing something or listening to it? Do you need white noise or absolute silence in order to get something done? Use that as a guide for where you want to memorize this information. If you use the association with the senses tip from earlier, be sure that and this one don’t collide in such a way as to make your experience unpleasant.
11. Emphasize your intentions
The more you intend to do something, the more you’ll want to do it. Because of this, it’s important to remind yourself of your reasons. Are you trying to pass a difficult test? Are you trying to keep stuff in your mind for an important job interview? If you ever feel worn out or need a reason to continue on, do this step. It’ll keep you motivated and keep what you want to remember in your mind.
Likely what you’re trying to memorize isn’t going to hurt you if you can’t recall it later. Even if so, panic isn’t going to help; it’s more often going to impair your focus. Chill out when you need to. The less anxious you are, the more able you will be to complete your daily tasks. Learn some techniques like deep breathing, meditation or grounding yourself in your current situation. When you’re ready, you can go back to learning again.
Have you found good ways for how to improve your memory? Share them in the comments!
Hi! I'm Tyler and I'm a sophomore student at the University of Vermont. I'm an English major and I'm minoring in French and Linguistics. I'm particularly interested in reading, writing, philosophy and the natural world (although the Internet is somewhere I hang out often too).