The speed of recall, the accuracy of recollection, and memory retention – all of these are aspects of our minds’ functionality. Each showcase how well our mind is working for us on a day-to-day basis.
Some people have fabulous memories, while others can’t remember what they went into the kitchen for – again! But, the good news is that you can improve your memory’s function considerably, and with relative ease.
The human mind is not a muscle, but it can be exercised like one. And as with any other form of exercise, the more you do it, the more benefits you’ll receive. These tips and tricks will help you gain the skills necessary to exercise your mind, improving your memory as you practice.
The Man Who Holds the Record for the Best Memory in the World
The name “Alex Mullen” – it’s not a household name – but it should be. Why? He’s the man who holds the record for the World’s Best Memory. Alex Mullen won the World Memory Championships for three years straight, beating several competitors who also have exceptionally sharp minds.
Alex surprisingly claimed that there’s nothing particularly special about his memory – noting that he wasn’t born with an above average recall, nor any other notable skill. Instead, he claims he was able to gain his impressive skills through practice. One memory exercise, above many others, is Alex’s favorite – it’s called the creation of memory places.
Create Memory Places
The use of memory places to improve recall has been around since ancient Rome. This is one of the best techniques known to improve memory – and anyone can learn this trick. The trick is based on the fact that our brains are extremely adept at remembering locations, and linking memories to a location.
Creating, and using, a memory place follows five simple steps.
- Pick a place that you can easily remember – that will be your memory place.
- List all of the important details of the place that you can remember.
- Familiarize yourself with the chosen place until it’s extremely well ingrained in your brain.
- The next step is to associate the memories you want to recall easily with details of your memory place.
- Lastly, just close your eyes and visit your memory place whenever you need to record or recall certain memories.
Try Visualization and Stop Forgetting Why You Entered a Room
Everyone’s gone into a room to do something, only to forget what they went into the room to do. If you haven’t, count yourself lucky. If you have, well, you’re among sympathizers. It’s a very frustrating situation.
But why does this happen?
The act of entering another room has a tendency to ‘reset’ our short-term memory, making us forget what we went into the room to do. This is caused by the way the human brain tends to work, as our memories are often linked to the place we’re in at the time the memory is created. If the memory is removed from your short-term memory before it can be committed to your long-term memory, it’s lost. The memory improving technique known as visualization is the best way to remember things when changing rooms and is useful in a ton of other situations.
How it Works
The concept of visualization is simple; it works by picturing in your mind the thing you’re about to do. For example, if you’re going into the kitchen to grab your purse, take a moment to create a clear picture of what you’re about to do before you actually go into the kitchen. This works because our minds are better at recalling objects than concepts (i.e. “purse” rather than “I need my purse”).
But this technique works on many more things than just remembering why you went into the kitchen. Visualization can be used in nearly any case where you need to remember something in your short-term memory. Picturing what you need to do before changing your surroundings can really improve your short-term memory.
Try Recalling Things in “Chunks”
Human short-term memory is very limited, able to hold on average between four and seven individual pieces of information at a time. When our short-term memory is taxed with more than its limit of individual items, it naturally begins to replace older items with newer ones, usually without us ever noticing.
For example, if you were to try to remember a string of numbers, it will be easy to recall the first several digits at first. As you try to remember each new digit as it comes up, you’ll likely start to forget the first digits, winding up only remembering the final few in the end, rather than the entire string.
The best way to improve the number of things you hold in your short-term memory is to remember things in chunks. To use our previous example, rather than remembering each digit individually, you can instead remember multiple digits at a time as a single piece of information.
The best example of this would be memorizing phone numbers. The average phone number, including area code, is 10 digits. However, we typically remember phone numbers by memorizing more than one number at a time (i.e. ***-***-****). This is remembering things in “chunks” and can be applied to many things, such as lists or any other string of items. It’s an amazing way to broaden the number of items that you can commit to short-term memory.
No matter which technique you use, practice is the best way to increase your mind’s ability to recall and retain information. Who knows – maybe after some practice, you’ll be the next record holder for World’s Best Memory.